Having lived in New Jersey all my life, I was eager to get away from the East Coast and excited to come to Santa Clara University on the West Coast. I wanted to experience all that the grand state of California had to offer: the endless sunshine, palm trees, authentic Mexican food, and chill vibes of the people. However, as the weeks in college fly by, I can’t help but be nostalgic for the things that make up New Jersey. Below is a list of what I miss about New Jersey and what I can’t wait to come home to!
1. Fall in New Jersey.
I love fall. Everything about it, from the visits to the pumpkin patches, the fall scented candles infused with pine and cinnamon, and the increase in temperature. The coming of fall meant bringing out my closet full of flannels and cozy socks, my favorite, navy blue, J Crew quilted vest, and of course, my leather boots. But what I love most about fall is the changing of the colors of the leaves – the red, orange, yellow, and golden hues. It’s one of the most beautiful sights. However, as I’ve discovered recently, fall in California is not the same as fall in New Jersey (obviously).
While a few of the leaves did fall and change color on Santa Clara’s campus, it was nothing to the extent of fall in New Jersey. Moreover, I love fall because of its greater significance. To me, fall signifies time and its passing. The leaves are dying, simply to be reborn again in the spring. However, with little to no sense of the changing of time, it sometimes feels like time isn’t affecting me. The lesson here is that there’s nothing like the beauty of fall in New Jersey, metaphorically and physically, so appreciate it while you’re there.
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While we’re talking about seasons, I gotta say that I deeply miss the snow as well. I was that kid who never got tired of snow days, and growing up, I would sled down my front porch steps and play around in the snow until my fingers were numb with coldness. As I grew older, snow days meant Netflix and chill, an activity I was just as content with. The first snowfall was always magical, and even though some people complained about how dirty and ugly snow got on the side of the road, I never ceased to see the beauty of snow, in all its forms. Yet, like the fall foliage, snow is nowhere to be seen in Santa Clara’s winter. I love when my California friends talk about “how cold it is” when there’s a slight breeze in the 60 degree weather. They don’t know what it’s like to have cold weather and snow. (Sadly.)
3. Dunkin Donuts
Now, back in high school, I was never a Dunkin kid; I didn’t stop at Dunkin every morning on the way to school, like some kids. At most, I probably went to Dunkin once a month to pick up Munchkins for a club meeting. Nonetheless, I miss the familiarity of the pink and orange lettered Dunkin Donuts sign and the accessibility of good donuts in every town. I love how the Dunkin slogan is, “America runs on Dunkin” yet the closest Dunkin to Santa Clara is in Half Moon Bay, 38 miles away!!! (Aka Too. Far. Away.).
It also amazes me how my West Coast friends do not know what a munchkin is and they ask me to explain it (munchkins are donut hole treats!). Without the convenience of a nearby Dunkin Donuts, I now appreciate it a lot more. I’m a loyal Dunkin Donuts fan and donuts from other donut stores just don’t compare.
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4. Fantastic Diners
Growing up in New Jersey, I took diners for granted, as they were just there in every town.
Diners are the perfect place to grab cheap, fast, and tasty food and they’re the go-to hang out place for breakfast at midnight. Although all diners have their own unique character, I love how they all still have the the familiar atmosphere with friendly waiters, great food, and the chitter-chatter ambiance. Yet, unlike New Jersey, there fails to be a diner in every town in California. Not even chain diners like Perkins! The closest thing California has to a diner is Denny’s, which is honestly just sad. California needs to hop on the band wagon and implement more diners. ASAP.
Like good bagels. Thankfully, Santa Clara has a Cramer’s Bagels located across from the Santa Clara entrance at Palm Drive, which are pretty good for a non-East Coast bagel. But at the same time, nothing compares to those bagels from your local bagel store. In New Jersey, good bagels are simply standard.
6. New Jersey wildlife.
I’m an animal lover in general, and I miss looking outside my yard and seeing the abundance of bunnies, chipmunks, deer, as well as the fat beaver that occasionally visited along with its plump possum friend. Although Santa Clara has an abundance of squirrels, I miss the variety of wildlife that I used to see in my New Jersey suburban yard. Plus, the squirrels at Santa Clara are so friendly and adapted to human life, I don’t even considered wildlife anymore. They’re more like university pets. Which is a good and bad thing. They’re not afraid of people and sometimes they come WAY too close for comfort. I can’t wait to come home and see all the New Jersey wildlife again. I just love looking out my kitchen window and seeing the “backyard regulars” like the family of deer and rabbits that reside nearby. They’re too adorable.
7. New York style pizza!
You’re probably noticing a trend here – that I love food and really miss the food of the East Coast. But seriously, there’s nothing like the big, rich, oily and super tasty New York style pizza that is big enough to appropriately fold in half when eating. Mmmm.
8. New York City
San Francisco is amazing but there’s no place in the world like New York City. Living only an hour train ride from NYC, I would go there once a month, so I was accustomed to going to the city often. I miss the hustle and bustle of NYC life, the vibrancy of the city, and the uniqueness of all the people, streets, and sites. Great food, interesting people, and cool events, going to the city was always an adventure. And the enormity of all the city buildings; it’s looking at these grand architectural sites that always made me know that anything is possible. San Francisco is a city, but it doesn’t compare to the city of New York. NYC is simply one of a kind, and no city in the world can replace it.
Don’t get me wrong: I love living in California and will say that California offers amazing food like boba, poke, and authentic Mexican food, all of which you will not find in New Jersey (Seriously, our version of Mexican food is Chipotle). Additionally, as an environmental studies major, I’m thankful for the sustainable culture that is present here (compost bins and reusable bags are the way to go!!!) Plus, I love spending time outside, so the perfect weather – not too cold, not too hot – is perfect, given that I have the opportunity to study outside all the time (without humidity too!). But there are just some things California does not have, and for that I’m grateful. It simply makes me appreciate the things I miss about New Jersey more and I can’t wait to come home for winter break!