Kitsap Sun Intern’s First Impressions of South Kitsap

Let me introduce Angela Lu, our intern, at least through March. She is living in South Kitsap during her stay with us. Here she shares her honest impressions of South Kitsap.

Angela says:
First impressions of SK

The very first split second I saw South Kitsap — Port Orchard to be exact — was on the evening of January 2, 2009. All I could see of the city was what my headlights and the few bright lights of local eateries would shine light on:
Trees.
Dark roads.
Fred Meyer (which I’m completely new with)
A few stores and parking lots.
More trees.
A place like nothing I’ve seen before.

Maybe my thoughts and opinions would make more sense if I tell you where I’m coming from. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, which is half an hour (more like an hour with traffic) from Los Angeles. After graduating high school, I went to Northwestern University near Chicago to study journalism. And that is what led me here, to place I’ve never heard of, to intern for a quarter for the Kitsap Sun. After three months I’m headed back to Chicago to finish my junior year in college.
So coming from LA, which is currently 70 degrees right now — not making comparisons or anything – I’ve never seen so much green, so many trees, and so much fresh water. It really is a sight for sore eyes. What I’m used to in LA are endless roadsides and highways of just concrete, grass dying of heat, and strip malls every five feet. What I’m used to in Chicago are buildings that stretch up to the sky, blocks upon blocks of commercial districts, and so much wind and cold that you count the opportunity costs every time you walk out the door. Hence, SK was a huge change in every way. For more visual people, here is the comparison of SK and LA.
(KEY: X’s are trees, O’s are developed areas.)

SK: XXXXXXXXXOXXXOXXXXOOOXXXX
LA: OOOOOOXOOOOOXOOOOXXOOOOOO

Get the pictures? Good. That’s why I find it strange when I hear people complaining about the increase of commercial developments in Port Orchard and the rest of Kitsap. It’s hard for me to relate these complaints because I still see a lot of small business and compared to other places, Port Orchard is a forest with a few inhabitants.

I’ve really enjoyed getting use to the slower pace of life, the stillness and silence of nature, and finally being able to hear myself think. But for me, there’s a thin line between that and boredom. I can see how people come to live here to take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, but I wish there were more things to do here.

Everything I’ve said isn’t anything new to the residents of Port Orchard, but maybe looking at your town from a fresh pair of eyes will help you see what you’ve gotten used.

My suggestion (which doesn’t mean much) for Port Orchard is to install streetlights. While driving on Sedgwick east past Bethel anytime after the sun goes down (which nowadays is really early), it is so dangerous because you can’t see anything more than 2 feet in front of you, or less if you’re blinded by the headlights of the car coming in the opposite direction. Especially for people who have been spoiled by well-lit streets their whole lives, or teenagers just learning to drive, it would really help to have streetlights along the road, maybe even the secondary streets if I’m not asking too much.

Also going down to Bay Street felt like stepping back to another era. I know Bay Street has strong ties to its past, but maybe if the street could be renovated as to keep its historical value, provide more than just antique stores, it could attract more visitors, as the street has been mainly deserted when I went. And it would be nice if the library could be brought more up-to-date. Then again, I know funding right now is hard to come by, but one can dream right?

Another big difference from where I’ve been before is diversity. I’ve noticed that any talk about race causes comment wildfire on this newsite, but I’m just going to say what I feel. My whole life, I’ve always been surrounded by a lot of diversity — of people who look like me (Asian-American) and people of all different cultures and nationalities. But here, I see a lot less of it, and it makes me more conscious of the fact that I’m not white even though I was born in the US and it is the only place I call home.

Sometimes its so important to step outside of one’s comfort zone, of what one has grown accustomed to, and for me, that is what I’m doing. Coming to Kitsap is really a different and new experience for me, especially because I’ve never really been the “new kid in town” before, except for going to college, but that was different because everyone was a newcomer. I’ve seen such beautiful sights — the sun shining off the inlet as I drive down Highway 3 on my way Bremerton, tall proud trees lining the road like majestic soldiers and a filmy layer of fog cloaking the Olympic mountains. But I still miss lighted 3-lane streets, shopping malls and cafes five minutes from home, and people out and about at night.

Maybe it’s when we’re somewhere new that we found ourselves.

3 thoughts on “Kitsap Sun Intern’s First Impressions of South Kitsap

  1. Welcome Angela 🙂
    We’re a community of committed volunteers, so if you have any spare time and would like to avoid boredom 🙂 we can hook you up. Any amount of time, day of week, a variety of opportunities!Shoot me an email, sally.santana@wavecable.com

  2. Well this is a few months late to reply and she’s probably gone, but if you get bored in Port Orchard you can always hop on an hour ferry to Seattle(the asian population is like 12 percent over there, and there is quite a bit of diversity). The great thing about Port Orchard is its away from the city, but close enough to one for comfort.

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