First Week Living in San Francisco

I crafted a message to share with some friends and family in the Summer to give everyone an update on how I was handling my first week – below are some snippets:

Hello friends!

It’s been a hectic past few weeks – well months actually – as I packed up my life in Vancouver, but here I am in San Francisco! My first time ever leaving Vancouver!!! Thank you all for your friendship and support during this time of transition 🙂

Leaving Vancouver and Crossing into the US

Crossing the border was fairly straight forward – we had all our paperwork prepared earlier for the airport and once we got to the airline counter, we even got upgraded with extra legroom. I firmly believe that it is always worthwhile to ask nicely with a smile!

Timely encounter: An old friend who left Vancouver years ago to work at Apple noticed us at security and followed us into the airport lounge and we got to all catch up – Things were starting off well!

The only setback was when we arrived at the airline gate and realized: Either our plane is invisible, or the timing of departure is completely wrong!

There was no plane we could see at the gate!

Well, 40 min later we got on and arrived around midnight.

My top 3 To-Do’s upon arrival on Day 1 were:

  • 1) Get my Social Security Number (You need this for everything – eg. Health Insurance)
  • 2) Get a phone plan and
  • 3) Sign up for a gym membership!
I accomplished all 3! And even attended my first Canadian Tech event the following day.

I then shared my new contact details with friends: I was grateful to be staying with a friend of a friend named Kim! One of our good friends used to live with her and they’ve remained really close, and now we had taken her place! Kim has a sweet little rescue dog named Lumen that kept us company.

Next To-Do: Meet People! Make friends and business contacts

A few work contacts suggested that I absolutely had to get involved with this C100 group that supports Canadians, with the mission to help Canadian Tech Entrepreneurs Build Successful Companies. It should be a good group to get to know to build connections for future work and for my own passion projects!

Timing worked in my favour as they were having an event the day after I arrived! So I took the Caltrain down from SF on Day 2 for their C100 networking event. (I even wore my CANADA jacket that was given to me as part of my Tel Aviv University Trip a couple months ago)!

So … a bit about distance and proximity in the Bay Area :

This event was in Palo Alto (this is where the Facebook, Googleplex, tech offices are close to..). I learned firsthand that Palo Alto is a significant trek from SF. Here’s what it looks like on a map:
https://goo.gl/maps/V7B2tnRrP1B2
At least I wasn’t the guy who didn’t realize his LYFT bill would end up being $60USD+ !!

While commuting to Palo Alto, it wasn’t super clear how to transfer trains and two other women looked lost and asked me for help. I said I was new to the city and when I mentioned I was from Canada, they gushed, “You Canadians are SOoooo Friendly and Nice!!!!” and then, after when I apologized for not knowing which train to take they both laughed, “Oh! She said sorry!! So Canadian!”

SF Observations

I told these 2 women how I heard that people from California are friendly…! They both turned to look at each other, and paused, and said, “No. You definitely won’t find people as friendly as in Canada”. Oh!Well, at least they were managing my expectations, and were being friendly with me.

I then asked them about their experience in the city and they shared some insightful commentary (note: they had been in the city for 1 year, one was from New York and the other from the Mid-West):

  • People in SF may come off as “rude” /not having manners. Generally people won’t hold doors for you (unlike in the Mid-West/NYC) and the reason for this, is to avoid offending someone. ie. in case someone were to react that “they don’t need to have help with opening doors, and that you were being presumptuous to think so”. Another way to put it is “freedom” vs “protocol”.
  • People don’t say “You’re Welcome” after you Thank them. They sort of just shrug and say “uh huh” or “yep”.
  •  You will see paper forms that have “preferred pronoun” as there is a lot of sensitivity around this.
  • Since SF is a transient city with lots of expats, people connect over when they arrived to the city, so you end up making friends most easily with other newbies who are looking to explore new things and places in general, versus bonding and meeting people with the same interests.
  • Lots of events and festivals. Apparently SF is home to one of the largest races called Bay to Breakers which became famous for people being drunk and wearing costumes. Sometimes people run this wearing…nothing.


Stereotypes: 

We exchanged stories about stereotypes.. and apparently in New York, a lot of people bond over a “shared negative experience”

So, you might be standing in the streets and something weird happens, and 1 person comments on it while making eye contact with someone nearby. Then, they wait to gauge the other person’s reaction. If person 2 says something like, “oh yeah that was real shady”, then they both connect and bond!

Some SF Pictures: 

1) Blue skies in the Financial District in SF.

2) Hilly streets – views of the ocean and Alcatraz!

3) Inside a Lyft! So glad they have car sharing here! More on new apps in a later post!

4) Bastille Day Party (hence the French outfit theme – stripes, moustaches and blue – works also for World Cup gear!). My sister who lived in SF was actually the one invited to this party, but she transferred the invite to me! Thanks sis!

5) Windy weather at Civic Centre  – definitely learned I need layers and I’ve brought a coat everywhere!

First week off to a good start!​

I invited my friends to stay in touch with me via IG: @poymeetsworld and was excited to read so many replies and updates from all over the world.

I will endeavour to document more of my expat journey in San Francisco!

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