We live in an ethnocentric country and we go to school in a snooty state. Just because America is such a superpower, the goings-on in other continents are not superfluous to us.

The international news section in newspapers all over the country is shrinking exponentially each year due to its low demand by Americans. With such a focus on our daily lives and routines, in the few segments of spare time we have left, many people, myself included, just want to hang out and relax, so we fail to stay up to date on world affairs.

This summer something was brought to my attention that made me truly second guess the priorities of constituents in my motherland. The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania found in a national survey of 1,514 adults that only 15 percent of Americans can name the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court (John Roberts), yet 66 percent can name at least one of the judges on Fox’s “American Idol.” This truly makes me sad.

When I studied in New York City over the summer, I met people from all over the world. With this opportunity, I began to question the “life experience” I am getting here in San Luis Obispo where a diverse group of people consists of a Southern California native, a Bay Arean and perhaps someone from another Western state.

I’ve lived in California my entire life and many of my friends and acquaintances have as well. Because we all have somewhat similar backgrounds here, I’m not learning as much as I could be from the people around me.

Jay-Walking is a segment of “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno in which fairly basic questions such as “Who is the vice president of the United States?” are asked to people on the street. On most occasions this is filmed in Southern California, and usually the answers are disastrous.

As Californians, we often fail to remember that there are 49 other states in this country. We have wonderful weather, a beautiful coastline with stellar waves and access to a plethora of “herbal medicines.” What else do you need, right?

Don’t get me wrong. I love this state and I will most likely live here the rest of my life, but I now know there is so much to learn from people outside of this state and especially outside of San Luis Obispo.

California is one of the most racially diverse states in the country, yet statewide demographics are not reflected in San Luis Obispo. After moving here from the Bay Area, I realized that cultural diversity is not thrown upon me here; it is something I must seek out.

I strongly encourage people to expand their horizons in their four, five, or six years here. Instead of checking out what’s hot tonight on Foothill and California boulevards, or obsessing over what to wear for the 10 nights of Halloween, pick up a free copy of The New York Times and read more about the war in Iraq, drive to Cayucos and peruse one of its many antique stores and buy an inexpensive, classic book, or stop by the Study Abroad office and try to take advantage of an opportunity you most likely won’t get after college.

California is great and so is San Luis Obispo, but there is more to life than this little college bubble we live in. Go explore your options.


Rachel Gellman is a journalism junior and a reporter for the Mustang Daily.

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