Just over a week has gone by since I moved to San Francisco. I now officially live here. It’s so weird for me to think that way, but I have a house and a bus pass and everything. The first week was insanely busy and exciting and full of new experiences.
My mom and I drove up a day early and made the drive in less than 5 hours, even though the GPS told us it would take at least 5 and a half. Take that, technology. Even though I’ve been wanting to do this program since before I started at Westmont, I was full of anxiety before I left home. The view of the cityscape across the bay as we drove in finally got me really excited. Move-in was pretty hassle-free. I’m living with Kristen Wiersma on the third floor in what is I think the smallest room in the house (we didn’t exactly have the best spot in the housing lottery) but we made it work and it’s cozy.
Monday we spent the whole day on a walking tour of several districts. We started at the top of Bernal Heights which had a great view of the whole city and both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. We first walked through the Mission District, which has a strong Latin influence. Lots of murals to look at and overall a very colorful place. It’s definitely not just Latin though. We stopped for lunch at a Mediterranean place called Ali Babba’s Cave, where I had my first chicken shawarma (I still don’t know what this is, so don’t ask). We then walked through Castro, which is where a lot of the gay community lives. It’s kind of a fun place but with some eye-shocking shops with names like Does Your Mother Know? I stopped for a cookie at a place named Hot Cookie, which has a lot of….suggestively shaped cookies, but mine was just regular type. We finished up walking through Haight, which is where the hippies are and is just across the Panhandle from our house. There are a lot of smoke shops and basically everyone smokes pot and no one cares. Some guy jumped out at us and shoved a hair pick in our faces. Haight is also the home of Amoeba Music.
Tuesday was mostly a bunch of orientation stuff, but that night we went to a Giants game. It was my first time to a major stadium so that was really exciting. Also because the whole place was full of excited fans it made me more excited to be there. I even have a favorite player. His name is Buster. But I still think baseball is boring.
Wednesday we met with 20 supervisors for possible internships. All the organizations sounded great, but none of them really clicked with me. Also I feel like I could get involved with a nonprofit at any point in my life. I set up an interview for Tuesday (tomorrow) with one called Girls on the Run, which is a nonprofit that builds self-esteem in young girls by getting them involved in running. There’s a huge event in December that they need lots of planning and organizing for, so that’s what I’d be doing there. But where I really want to intern is THE EXPLORATORIUM. Three words: interactive science museum. It sounds totally awesome! I could intern in either private event planning or community outreach. Basically I would take any internship I could get there. I have an interview on Wednesday. I’m supposed to have at least one more set up but I’m not really interested in other places, so what’s the point?
Thursday was basically a free day that I spent perfecting my resume and contacting people about interviews. Friday we did a service day at St. Anthony’s, which provides a number of services for the homeless living in The Tenderloin. The Tenderloin is this really run-down area of the city where there’s a lot of homeless, a lot of drug-use, and a lot of sadness. I spent the day at a senior day center, hanging out with a bunch of old Chinese and Korean ladies. It was GREAT. My group of 5 got there and started with the macarena and proceeded to play far too many rounds of dominoes. The best part was chair aerobics. We worked out with an awesome video from the 80s that taught us how to stay fit while sitting down. That’s my kind of workout! The lady I was sitting next to then volunteered me for karaoke, which was fun and terrible at the same time. After our time there was up we headed back to the dining room at St. Anthony’s for lunch. I sat with a woman named Stacie. She told me about how it was to live in the Tenderloin and her children who live with their father and how she used to race cars and her friend who is also homeless but has art in a gallery and she was really really great to talk to.
Saturday we had another city exploration in small groups. We thought it would take a few hours but it ended up taking all day. My group went to Clement Street, which has an awesome bookstore and a boutique called April in Paris. We then took a 45-minute bus ride to Chinatown. The main street had almost no Chinese people – it was all tourists. The shops weren’t even selling Chinese things; they had stuff like California license plates. One street over was real Chinatown, with almost no white people (we felt very out of place) and no English being spoken. I saw a lady selling a dead baby shark on the sidewalk. Our last visit was Little Italy, which had a lot of little restaurants that smelled soooo good. Also by our bus stop there were 4 strip clubs and an adult bookstore on one corner.
And that’s my first week in San Francisco. I’m really excited about this semester. The other students in the house are great and we all mesh well. I’m not usually a city person but I think I will love this place.
If you want to send me mail (hint!) email me for my mailing address.