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ORANGE COUNTY COMMENTARY

Appetite's Eastern, but Her Heart Still Beats Pacific Time

September 22, 2002|DAISY YU

Though I've been on summer vacation for four months, my stomach is still in sync with the daily meal cycles of Boston University's dorm cafeterias. With Lobster Night, made-to-order sushi and unlimited self-serve ice cream, whose wouldn't?

It's 4 p.m. here in Orange County, but the growling in my belly tells me it is dinnertime. I'm no longer a student at BU, but just for fun, I like to Instant Message my friends back East and ask them about the daily menu at Warren Towers, my old dorm.

In May, I decided not to return to Boston University. Instead, I've become a commuter Anteater at UC Irvine. I'm living at home and I'm loving it.

Finally, I have my own bathroom and my own room. And, now that I have my own car, the weekly grocery shopping isn't an all-day excursion.

My decision to return to UC Irvine meant going against the flow, since California is one of the largest feeder states to the private university system on the East Coast. At BU, the Class of 2006 has at least 250 Californians, almost equal to the amount of students from such nearby states as New York and Connecticut.

Attending a university on the other side of the country can be very appealing to Southern California students. Many feel the need to get away to completely separate themselves from the environment they've known all their lives.

However, after a year or two, the excitement of leaving friends and family behind often fades. Traveling back and forth during the winter, spring and summer breaks takes its toll. Most students live out of their suitcases since their computers and personal items are in storage.

Because flying home for three days is just too expensive, Thanksgivings are usually spent alone in a hotel room with takeout food. Unfortunately, many of the larger dorms close over the holidays. For a student so far away from home, East Coast university life can become very lonely.

UC Irvine states on its Web site that about 20% of its 2001 transfer class was not from California community colleges. That leads me to believe that many transfer students find that they would prefer to live at home and commute to school rather than choose a campus where they would be forced to live in a dorm and begin the whole college process again.

Ironically, almost all of the friends I made at BU were from California. One of my closest BU friends lives in Fullerton and made the decision to leave the East Coast behind and attend UC Santa Barbara, her original first choice.

At BU, native Californians had a tendency to stick together. My friends and I could always tell when someone was from California, whether it was the way they dressed, the way they spoke or the selection of CDs in their backpacks.

Many Californians find it difficult to connect with the Boston-East Coast mind-set. Personally, I'd never been an Abercrombie & Fitch customer, nor had I been to any Dave Matthews concerts.

Furthermore, I didn't pronounce the word 'car' as 'cah.' On campus, I felt like a walking vacation brochure for Orange County. Even in January, I still had my natural tan and I wore flip-flops when it rained. While Roxy is a household clothing brand in Southern California, most people at BU thought that Roxy was my name and that I was obsessed with personalizing all of my clothes.

Although my transfer to UC Irvine will make my home life and my social life much easier, my academic route of study is sure to suffer. At BU, I was well on my way to finishing my English major requirements as well as my general education requirements. In fact, I was even looking into an art history or visual arts minor because I had two whole semesters of free choice electives. But now that I am at UC Irvine, I'm starting from scratch. It's as if my hard work at BU was simply a waste of time and $60,000. I'll be lucky if I graduate simply as an English major in two years at UC Irvine.

Yet I have no regrets about the time I spent at Boston University. I still adore the campus, and the professors I had for the past two years were enlightening and helpful. The life lessons I've learned being away on my own truly have no price tag. Whether my credits transfer or not, the Astronomy 104 course I took as a freshman or the Caribbean fiction lectures I participated in have helped me become a more rounded person.

Nonetheless, I'm glad to be back in Orange County, where I can have dinner with my family every night and wear Roxy tank tops without getting stares. It's the greatest feeling to know that I am home for good.

*

Daisy Yu of Huntington Beach is a UC Irvine student.

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