Off-Third: Bay Area students are wasting our time

It’s time to stand up against the drawn-out responses to “where are you from?” of our Bay Area peers.


Susan Behrends Valenzuela

Students from the Bay Area take too much time to explain where they’re from. How hard is it to just say “California?” (Staff Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

Alexandra Cohen, Deputy Opinion Editor

NYU is a global institution, which means students hail from one of three places: Los Angeles, New Jersey and the Bay Area. Upon meeting someone, you’ll typically ask their name, their major and where they’re from.

A student from Los Angeles will tell you exactly what part of LA they’re from, unless they’re not actually from LA — then they’ll tell you quietly that they grew up in Pasadena or Orange County. They’ll also tell you exactly how close they are to the beach or Rodeo Drive and which nepotism baby they went to high school with. The Crossroads kids will tell you all about their nights with the Apatows, the Harvard-Westlake kids will go on about Apple Martin and any Oakwood kid will tell you about how they smoked weed with Lily-Rose Depp. 

Jersey kids will tell you the name of their town that ends in “-town” or “-wood,” then clarify with South, North or the mythical Central, and finally explain to you their distance from the beach or the city. Adorably, students from New Jersey think that the average NYU student knows what their small town is; pretentiously, students from the Bay Area assume they don’t. And that’s my beef. 

A real conversation with a student from the Bay Area: 

“Nice to meet you. Where are you from?” I ask innocently, expecting the name of a major city or a suburb of [insert major city].

“I’m from this really underground galaxy called the Milky Way, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it,” they respond. 

“Oh, I actually have heard of it, where in the Milky Way are you from?” I ask, stupidly expecting more specificity. 

“Planet Earth, it’s the third one from the sun,” they say, demonstrating the sort of knowledge one can only receive from an ultra-competitive Bay Area high school. 

“Yes, I know it well. Where on Earth?” I ask. I’m now three questions into this conversation and still haven’t gotten a crumb of an answer yet.

“I’m from the Western Hemisphere. It’s a little niche, but it’s home.” 

“Oh sick! Where in the Western Hemisphere exactly?” I ask.

“I honestly doubt you know it, but this continent called North America,” they reply. I am livid at this point, but I’m already in too deep. 

“Yes, it rings a bell for sure. Where in North America?” 

“The United States, low-key super embarrassing,” they say with an obnoxious smirk. 

“Where in the U.S.?” I am no longer giving cute commentary. I am now on a mission to get to the end of this unnecessary introduction. Silly me for asking where they’re from, silly me for just absolutely needing to know for my own satisfaction. 

“This state called California, the third-biggest state,” they say. Again, that Bay Area school system knowledge really shows through. 

“Oh, no way, me too!” Except I don’t force people to beg for my geographical origins. I simply say “Los Angeles” and move on. 

“Where in California?” I shouldn’t feel like I’m prodding, but I do. 

“Northern California. North is the top of the state,” they say, and I’d like to kick them to upstate New York. 

“Yes, I’m familiar with the compass. Where in Northern California?” I ask — finally, a bit closer to the answer. 

“Actually, the Bay Area,” they say, as if they’ve given me a street address, not an area that’s around 550 square miles. Most people might stop there, satisfied with a mediocre answer. Why wouldn’t they? What do I have to gain from learning where you’re from as an ice breaker in our small talk? 

I have a deep history with the Bay Area — my mother is from there. This means that she also takes about ten times longer than necessary to tell people she’s from Burlingame, California, and that my beef is personal. It also means that I know a lot of people from the Bay Area and I’m ready to play the connection game — people from Los Angeles are obsessed with finding out who you know that they also know. What am I if not a native Angeleno?

“Oh, where in the Bay Area?” I ask, finally expecting to complete my mission and feel the short-term satisfaction of solving the mystery of where this random stranger is from. 

Finally, they mutter whatever unnatural name their hometown has. Sometimes they test my knowledge further by telling me they’re from the East, South or North Bay. Eventually, they’ll tell me that they’re from Marin or Berkeley or Menlo Park. 

Truly, it is not that hard to start specific and clarify with how far you are from San Francisco. 

We all have our little hometown acknowledgement quirks. An international student’s bio looks a bit like a passport got Instagram — it’s a line of abbreviations typically consisting of the most populous cities in the world. Students from the South try to justify the fact that their parents work in oil by adopting an ideology of extreme Marxism. Students from flyover states have to constantly try to be relevant. Students from Long Island and Westchester have to accept that they’re not from the city, no matter how close they claim to live to it. Students from LA have to grapple with the fact that they’re actually from the second-best city. 

We are all victims of the Bay Area NYU student, but I guess they’ve earned their superiority — after all, they did all endure the traumas of Bay Area high school.

Off-Third is WSN’s satire column. Views expressed in Off-Third do not necessarily reflect those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

Contact Alexandra Cohen at [email protected].