Matthew Busick is a Content Developer at Knewton.
Bicoastal: (adj.) Living or working on both the east and west coasts of the United States.
When I tell my friends that I’ve dreamed of being bicoastal, they look at me as if I’ve revealed something highly personal or inappropriate. Maybe it’s the rootlessness that they find appalling, or my refusal to pick a side in the perennial East-West wars. The truth is that both coasts are different enough to be interesting yet similar enough to make me feel right at home on either. I grew up in California, went to school in the Northeast, returned to San Francisco for three years, and am now working at Knewton in New York.
As a flip-flopping migrant, I can recognize the small quirks that make each coast unique, as well as the alarming similarities that span three thousand miles and bridge our culture together. In my eyes, San Francisco is where you go to “check out,” New York to check in. Easterners argue about which politician deserved to win an election, Westerners about which actress was robbed at the Oscars. Californians insist on using “hella” un-ironically, and Bostonians still believe saying “wicked” is acceptable. But differences aside, we all enjoy a good game of Ultimate, and whether we admit it or not, all Americans have at least some Lady Gaga on their iPods.
Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for travel. My best friend in college refused to apply to any law schools in California, telling me, with a shudder, that he couldn’t imagine living anywhere “west of the Rockies.” I reminded him that I myself came from the mysterious West and that a fair number of our friends even hailed from (gasp!) other countries. That was different, he explained. New York was the center of the world and, as such, asserted a gravitational pull on travelers everywhere. It was easy to be drawn in but virtually impossible to move away. “Much like a black hole,” I wryly observed.
Unfortunately, this sentiment is not unique to New Yorkers. Californians balk at the idea of leaving the Golden Coast, Southerners only cross the Mason-Dixon Line with caution, and I’ve heard that those in the Midwest believe the rest of us are off our rockers. When it comes to colleges and grad schools, however, this sort of thinking can severely limit your options. There are excellent institutions of learning all over this great nation, and tying yourself down to one locality, or writing off vast regions of the country as uncharted (with a medieval “Here Be Dragons”), will cut out what could potentially be an enriching and eye-opening experience.
In fact, I often tell my students to see distance as an advantage rather than a drawback. The point of school, after all, is to learn. The more you can get out of your so-called “comfort zone,” the more you’ll have opportunities to learn and grow. I’m not saying that everyone should pack up, kiss their friends and family goodbye, and move out tomorrow. There are often very good reasons for staying put, or at least close. But if you attend a college fair and fall in love with a campus or get a business school brochure in the mail that catches your eye, don’t let distance scare you away. Employers always say they like risk-takers. A big move shows that you’re not afraid of embracing the unknown.
There are times when we feel called to travel far and wide in search of adventure. Knewton is here to help you answer that call, from the comfort of your own home.