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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Touching down in “America’s Finest City”

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My greatest fear is flying. It’s illogical because airplanes are the safest form of travel. I’ve gotten better over the years, but that sense of a slight panic upon liftoff gets
my nerves going every single time. However, no matter how timid I may be on a plane, I am always ecstatic when the announcement comes for the flight attendants to “prepare for landing.” I know that this phrase signals home. I know the descent of planes into “America’s Finest City” by heart. They say it’s one of the most difficult airports to land in because the pilot has no option but to cut straight through the city. And when I mean straight through, I mean that you go directly over the world famous San Diego Zoo and practically land on a five-lane freeway. It’s intimidating just watching from your seat, but surprisingly I’m never nervous landing here. I love San Diego so much that my fear of flying vanishes when I see the landmarks of the place I was born during the flight descent.

Upon coming to Carleton, I met a lot of people who think that everyone from Southern California is tan, (I am definitely not) loves the beach (I really don’t) and can surf like a professional (I’ve never set foot on a surfboard). They also always assume that you’re from Los Angeles. But in reality, I hate Los Angeles. There’s a musty orange and brown cloud of pollution that surrounds the entire city. It’s noisy, it’s big, it’s chaotic, and for me it doesn’t really give anybody a great glimpse of what Southern California is really like. Please excuse my attack on Los Angeles because there are definitely boroughs that I enjoy, but what I’m trying to get at is that San Diego is something completely unique and different from Los Angeles.

There is no smog, it’s not overly-crowded, and most notably there is a different, as they say in Southern California, “vibe” to San Diego. People are calm. And I mean really calm. I’ve never seen anyone in San Diego get heated about anything, unless it’s about a subpar burrito. It’s entirely taboo to honk your horn unless in an emergency. Flip flops are the year-round shoe of choice. People sit outside at Mexican restaurants for the entire afternoon with their adorable dogs soaking wet from the morning trip to the beach. People are also friendly, but not in the Midwestern way. You don’t know everyone’s business and they don’t know yours, which I greatly appreciate.

But there’s also sometimes a sense of nonchalant conversation, that things you say go one ear and out the other. However, now whenever I come home for break I eagerly await my interactions with San Diegans.

I think what I love most about my hometown, however, is the immense variety of things you do for all ages of people. Growing up in San Diego was an absolute delight (thank you so much, Mom). I had annual passes to the zoo, Wild Animal Park, Seaworld, and Legoland. Yes, it is a theme park filled with giant legos and lego-themed rides. I could walk around at night with my dog and not worry about anything. I lived a block from my elementary school. I could draw chalk-cities at the end of my street without anyone giving it a second look. I could go to the wooded dog park at the end of my street and pretend to be Pioneers with my friends. What San Diego gave me was a childhood of complete freedom.

But for people my own age, I think that there’s even more to treasure. San Diego is the birthplace of California, and because of this we have an expansive Old Town. You can see people churning butter on the weekend and purchase old-fashioned candy from the general store. And you also get to eat the best Mexican food outside of Mexico, which is only twenty miles away. Or you can visit the infamous “Whaley House” and get spooked by a ghost or two. There is also my favorite part of San Diego: Balboa Park. Built for the World’s fair, it’s an expansive park of Spanish-style buildings containing countless museums, a “world” village with mini cottages, an immensely calming Japanese Friendship Garden, and a beautiful old theater. Honestly, there’s no better way to describe the park than the corniest term I can think of: magical.

San Diego is a home to a large variety of people from many places. Spanish is probably as commonly spoken as English. We’re the home to the navy and proud of it. We have two of the best animal parks in the world. And, oh yeah, we have what everyone visiting raves about, the eternally 70-degree weather. I don’t think that I will ever call Carleton home. That title will always be reserved for San Diego.


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