Thanksgiving is right around the corner! For a lot of us, this means spending time with family and reflecting on what we are grateful for. As a newcomer to the West Coast, only being here for 6 months, my perception of gratitude changed. When I arrived, people would welcome me to the “better coast,” which the East Coaster in me bristled at and brushed off as ‘they don’t know any better’. But over time, the West Coast has grown on me, and I realized there are some pretty unique and amazing qualities about the Bay Area in particular that make me grateful for moving here (other than just the sunny weather!).

To list a few examples: 

  1. Here in the Bay Area, we have access to abundant communities with unique opportunities, such as the booming tech industry and all the resources that come with it. Access to world-renowned subject matter experts and scholars. Having workshops led by CEOs of large companies and a small enough audience that you can carry a conversation with them afterwards. Getting one-on-one advice about any lucrative career you are interested in.
  2. Being in the Bay Area provides the chance to be part of discussions about the future that people in other parts of the country may not have access to. To give a more specific example, in Maryland it would be rarer to find someone who works at a large tech company like Google. Here in the Bay Area, they come a dime a dozen. When I first moved here, as cliche as it sounds, I felt like my phone came to life. I didn’t even know what an electric car sounded like until I moved to the Bay Area. I am grateful I have the opportunity to see behind the scenes of how things work, and therefore have a better understanding of the products and services that I use everyday.
  3. Terms like athleisure start to make a lot more sense here where people value work and  also value fun! Though the 9-5 can be grueling, most people have enough expandable wealth to travel over the weekend or have a nice dinner here and there. From previous personal experience, if I wasn’t “100% about the grind,” I felt like I was slacking. I am grateful that in the Bay Area people also give importance to their leisure time. I found that people were interested in my activities outside of work as well.
  4. The East Coast has places that are true gems, and more opportunities to explore beyond the state borders because the distances are shorter. Still, in California, there seems to be an endless list of places to explore within the state, with diverse landscapes, weathers, and things to do. For example, I was able to visit Lake Tahoe over Labor day weekend and its gorgeous sites. I got to watch a dragon dance in Chinatown in San Francisco, which was only an hour drive, whereas on the East Coast, it would be a four hour drive up north to New York.
  5. Other places might have limited options in terms of Muslim communities to choose from, but here in the Bay Area, the Muslim community is vast and diverse. Fun fact! There are 90 masajid in the Bay Area. You read that right, 9-0. It’s a revolving door of new people coming in and out of the area with diverse experiences and a hunger for community and sharing their stories. You can see this in the plethora of events and programs such as the Quran Quest that brought people across the Bay Area together. I often go to Muslim fomo to find out the events of the day.

Although I miss the distinct change in seasons and affordability of the East Coast, I found that the West Coast has inclusivity and a culture of “come as you are” that I appreciate. So, this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the special experiences I gained and the awe-inspiring people I met along the way at different events.