I found this sentence in The Longest ride
Marcia was from Charlotte, born and raised only a few hours from Wake Forest. Sophia could still remember Marcia's bewildered reaction when she said she had grown up in Jersey City. For all intent and purpose, Sophia might as well have said she'd been raised on Mars.
I have few questions regarding this sentence -
What is the meaning of "a few hours from West Forest"?
It's not very clear why "Sophia might as well have said she'd been raised on Mars"?
Thank you in advance.