First impressions of life in the OC

Not one to rely on 1st impressions, I still do have them. Having been here for 3 weeks intermingled with 2 weekends of travels, here are my impressions so far after moving into our new apt home this past Monday sans furniture:

Freeway driving on wider roads either exceeds avg flow of 70 mph or is jammed with traffic

Lots of time spent driving just to get around (can’t walk to get around, tho’ people do walk or jog for exercise) to cover the wide expanse of Orange County, not to mention even more time to get around SoCal places like LA or inland empire as they call it

Sunny weather year round makes for lost sense of time’s passing and sunburns come easy – just a few hours will get you to being near well done

No reason to eat at franchises when there’s so much local flavor and ethnic variety (I still use Yelp to vet the places)

Using a Blackberry makes for shorter emails and shorter blog posts

And, keeping an eye on the sad news of Korean hostages in Afghanistan, one already impatiently killed. has latest updates. Not much dialog in the blogosphere. Anti-Christian sentiment being reported on and, home of citizen journalism.

* Sent via BlackBerry Curve by AT&T

[update] rats, the attempted post via my Blackberry was all garbled gobblygook; had to make corrections above from sent mail folder… sigh

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  1. Cam says:

    You spoke way too soon about OhmyNews… a citizen reporter wrote a nice piece titled:
    Kidnapping Elicits Hateful Comments
    [Opinion] We should be praying for the South Koreans’ safety not denigrating Christianity and Islam

  2. joe says:

    completely agree with your observations on the effects of non-changing weather on time’s passing. along with that, the lowrise buildings and the flatness of the land makes me feel like i’m going really slow when driving, because many times the horizon is visible. also, places are just farther apart here. they have such a weird effect on time’s passing.. my eastcoast-ness is still rebelling inside. sounds like you’re really enjoying exploring So Cal. what churches will you be checking out? or is there a church you will be settling at already?

  3. djchuang says:

    Joe, the time factor is limiting me on how much exploring I can actually don around SoCal, there’s so many places and neighborhoods to check out, but it takes a lot of driving around, and being in an Xterra with high gas prices, it’s a costly venture 🙂

    I know there are so many interesting churches around here, so that’s going to be a difficult decision. And even though there are many good churches, I have a hunch that more churches are still desperately needed in the OC. I’m deliberating how many weekends a year I should set aside to do research (as a part of my current job) vs. how many weekends to participate at a home church where my tithes and offerings will primarily go. (as an aside, traditional churches are mostly concerned about how its members are connected in thru volunteerism and financial support, to keep everything else up and running……) So, Joe, where do you church?

  4. Rachelle says:

    Since I’m the driving factor behind our move to OC I feel I should comment. I favor the driving in SoCal precisely because there are no trees to block your view and the horizon line is always visible making me feel free and expansive. You can see and feel the sunrise and sunset. I feel like it makes me faster, not slower. I also enjoy all the billboards and being able to see stores directly off the freeway; it would drive me nuts in MD that I couldn’t see any actual stores and had to find the nearest fast food off the symbols on the road signs. I still will maintain that driving in SoCal is more fun, faster, safer due to the wide lanes and good signage and more visually-engaging any day than the East Coast! I’m writing this from Westchester County in NY where the roads are horrific and poorly designed.

  5. bert says:

    so weird.. since I just moved away from the OC last year, and am in DC for the summer. We swapped… Seems like you are adapting famously.

    Just a couple of comments.
    re: traffic. Wider roads are one thing, but more alert pedestrians/drivers are prevalent in the OC. And most people actually park correctly within their lines for fear of door dings on their Mercedes. (how many high-end vehicles do you see there? I’d say 25-30%, especially as you get closer to Southcoast. HOV lanes and light-limited freeway merge ramps really do help. And PCH might be the most unnecessary traffic ever.

    re: food. Try Alberta’s off of *THE* 5 on Newport blvd in old town Tustin.,+tustin,+ca&ie=UTF8&ll=33.740632,-117.821953&spn=0.00778,0.012853&z=16&iwloc=A&om=1
    Or El Farolitos in Fullerton (come very VERY hungry)
    I’m assuming I do not need to direct you to the good Asian places right? =)
    but do eat some Rubios. It’s a chain but the fish tacos… O I miss the fish tacos =)

    re: churches. It feels like there is the greatest percentage of mega/niche churches in the OC. I had a very difficult time finding a comfy “mama bear” type church. New Song is just too gigantically huge for my tastes, though seeing a stomp-esque service performance was very memorable and unique.

  6. djchuang says:

    Bert, thanks for the tips! I’m guessing you’re just in DC for the summer, and you’ll be back here in the OC soon after? When you get back, we’ll have to trade notes about churches.

  7. bert says:

    Sorry boss =(. I’m not for sure going back to the OC. After the summer, I’m in NC for about 6 months for MBA school, then to China for study abroad. Don’t have a full time position locked up just yet, but I’m pretty sure I’m migrating to the Pacific Northwest. We shall see =)

  8. Alex says:

    Hi DJ, I’ve been an avid reader of your blog but this is the first time posting. I think we have a number of mutual friends. I grew up in NYC in Queens and relocated to SF in 1989 to do my residency. After 14 years in SF, we’ve relocated down to Southern Cal and we live in Torrance with my wife Faith and kids. Although I haven’t lived in OC, we do make our way over there maybe once a month (theme parks, relatives). Have you thought of living in Torrance? It’s close to the ocean with pretty good schools. We’re halfway between LAX and Long Beach airports. Since I lived here (now just past 4 years), I’ve really grown to love SoCal. We live within 15 minutes of my in-laws, brother in laws family. And yes, my wife was the driving factor for our relocation. We’re active at Victory Fellowship which is one of the church plants from Cerritos Baptist. We’re almost 10 years old. I am also somewhat of a church connaisseur in my travels and have always been interested in developing Asian American ministries. I am Chinese American and my wife is Japanese American from down here in the South Bay. Growing up familiar with Chinese churches in NY but had alot of fellowship with Messianic, Dutch reformed, Presbyterian and teaching Sunday School at a small Korean church in Flushing. I think I had a pretty broad view of the body of Christ. I went to many different churches in San Francisco, many Chinese, but others more multi-ethnic. I settled at the first church I connected with, Golden Gate CRC (where Jon Ro’s father-in-law was the founding pastor) and committed myself to the community there but I think that took a bit of time. I remember the different “in between” times when I was looking for “something” in a church even though I wasn’t physically wandering between churches but I was feeling unsettled inside. I think it was one message I heard from Wayne Ogimachi at The Lord’s Gate which really spoke to me challenging me to commit to a “church I could love”. That at the time through prayer was Golden Gate even though there wasn’t an English pastor at the time. After making the commitment I think I felt the weight come off. Looking back, I clearly see God’s provision and blessing in my life. Likewise, when we relocated here to Torrance, we have found a church we love and are excited to see God moving in our community. I would really enjoy meeting up with you to trade notes on churches and love to have you, Rachelle and Jeremiah come visit our church ( ). Transitions and change are exciting times (or what my friend Kenji calls “Liminality” ). I enjoyed following your cross country trip. It reminded me of my 9 day drive from NY to SF, staying two nights at Wheaton College with Jon Ro (when he never met me before) and spending some time in Albuquerque, Gallup, and the Grand Canyon. DJ, you should check out the many multi-ethnic churches that are sprouting up all over the South Bay area.

    One comment regarding freeways is I notice that there is a different sensibility with regards to the environs and time if I am commuting back and forth to work vs. driving somewhere for pleasure. Time passes more slowly during commutes. But the journey seems more enjoyable and the horizons seem more beautiful if I’m driving for something not related to work. Just my 2 cents after my ramble.


  9. djchuang says:

    Alex, thanks for taking the time to provide a thoughtful (and thorough) commentary about SoCal. I’d enjoy getting to chat with you about freeways, churches, and travels. I’m not sure when we’ll go up to Victory Fellowship, but I did look at the website, and looks likes good things are happening there.

  10. dead cow says:

    welcome to oc, dj. hope you’ve enjoyed the less humid weather and socal lite churches here. catching up with your blog and hoping to read more about your reflections on asian american church culture here.