My Time In San Francisco
In 2015, I did my internship in San Francisco and lived there for five months. Maybe you’ve read my weblog about how lucky I was to get a last-minute email from a social enterprise and all the “worth-it” hassle of getting my paperwork done on time.
“So, why San Francisco?”
I didn’t do any research, nor did I plan to go there. I only knew for sure that I wanted to go abroad to gain a unique experience as I did in Iceland. I was so determined to want to go abroad that my surrounding became aware of this as well. I first planned to do my internship in Europe, until a classmate approached me and told me about the beautiful and awesome city of San Francisco.
I didn’t think too much about it as my mindset shifted from somewhere in Europe to San Francisco. So, I went on LinkedIn, clicked on the job tab, saw a social enterprise looking for a communication and development intern, wrote a kickass motivation letter, did a Skype call and got the position, obtained my J-1 Visa, and on my way.
In this blog, I’m putting the emphasis on my travel experience, and not my internship experience. What you can expect further in this blog is a taste of travelling in San Francisco.
Arriving In San Francisco
I arrived in San Francisco at the end of August. I was excited and maybe a bit anxious by the thought of starting a new life, in a new place, much bigger than the Netherlands. Nonetheless, I was glad to be there. Whenever I close my eyes, I could still go back to that moment I stepped out of the aeroplane and into the sunny and windy San Francisco.
So, from the SFO’s airport, I took a cab to where I was staying. During the whole ride, I was looking outside as far as I could to take in every shape and colour. The scenery left me speechless.
Being In San Francisco
During my stay, I realised that San Francisco is home to a little bit of everything. With far-reaching landscapes on every hill, beautiful beaches, year-round free concerts, amazing public parks, and some of the best food, music and art in the country. It’s easy to be lured by the siren song of San Francisco, a stunning, creative, organic, funky and wild city.
“It’s a mad city, inhabited by perfectly insane people whose women are of remarkable beauty.” – Rudyard Kipling
San Francisco has its landscapes, architecture, icons, and especially its unique personality. This personality revealed to me as I saw people walking around casually in yoga outfits, sipping their organic, sustainable, and dripped “just for you” cup of coffee from Blue Bottle. The same personality asked me if I needed help when I couldn’t find my way around the city. At the same time, this personality can be the crazy person talking for no reason as I was walking down Market Street.
I’ve learned that in its past, San Francisco has grown from a lust for gold and a desire for a better life. It stood up for equality, not only in the sense of toleration but also celebration. It’s such a diverse city. You can go fine dining at one of the city’s respected establishments one night and spend the next sampling the freshest dim sum in Chinatown. You can wear a suit by day and dress down to attend the urban art galleries at night.
I fell in love with San Francisco. Because no matter who I am, there is a part of me that can fit in here. It’s a stunningly beautiful city where boredom doesn’t exist, with endless possibilities, and everyone is accepted. Both then and now, San Francisco is loud and proud.
A Taste Of San Francisco
Whenever someone asks me about San Francisco, I think of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf. These are amazing places to spend your time, but there are many more places to explore. At Fisherman’s Wharf, you can bark at some sea lions at Pier 39. While you’re there, make sure to try a bread bowl of clam chowder and eat a Dungeness crab.
Alcatraz exceeded my expectation. Its audio tour is world class and you get magnificent views of San Francisco from the water. The Golden Gate Bridge is overwhelming and mysterious when it’s foggy. Go under the bridge to get an amazing view.
Talking about views, if you want some amazing outlooks on San Francisco, Coit Tower, Twin Peaks and Alamo Square are the places to be.
Via Filbert Street, find your way up the Coit Tower and if luck is on your side, you can see or hear flocks of wild colourful parrots that make their home there. For some magic, go to Twin Peaks at sunset and watch the city shine as the sun reflects off on the financial district. Oh, don’t forget to make your way to Alamo Square and see the contrast of the 1890s painted ladies Victorians and San Francisco’s breath-taking skyline.
When the sun shines brightly over San Francisco, put on a pair of sneakers because you need to go to Dolores Park to start a walking tour. From there, walk down Valencia Street all the way to 24th Street, you will see the remaining elements of a once fully Hispanic and Latin American neighbourhood in the hardship of gentrification. The beauty and grit of this area have not disappeared, and the murals and street art are as lively as ever.
Golden Gate Park is a great place to explore, especially on a Sunday as it’s somewhat closed to car traffic. It has everything and more, from roller disco to lawn bowling. On Thursday nights, experience Nightlife at the Academy of Sciences to while enjoying a drink inside of an epic museum watching the cosmos or maybe befriend a gorilla.
Of course, let’s not forget farmers market specifically on Saturday mornings at the Ferry Building. Have a chat with the local farmers, enjoy the food, and much more.
Let me know if you want more intel on places to explore in San Francisco.
Leaving San Francisco
Even though San Francisco has been an amazing experience, I did long to go home to the Netherlands. However, there is one reason that made leaving San Francisco extremely hard for me: I met my girlfriend there. I have been in a long-distance relationship for a few years. At first, I was sceptical about it, but it turned out that a long-distance relationship can actually work.
In my next blog, I will share my experience on a long-distance relationship about what one can expect from it.
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