Apr05

My First Month in San Francisco

I can’t believe yesterday was the last day of my fourth week in San Francisco! Saying goodbye to New York seems like only yesterday. To be honest, there have been many times I felt so lonely I questioned what I was doing here. I wanted to write many blog posts – like about how to get used to always being cold, about how scary but necessary it is to make the first step to meet friends, about how I got past my sugar addiction in three weeks, or even just a entire post of honest emotions. But I haven’t, because something else always takes my attention. I’ve been busier than ever. If I look back, maybe not every day has been an adventure, but I’ve been reassured many times that I did the right thing moving to San Francisco. This post is just a summary of my life in San Francisco so far!

Week 1

shops, sea lions, Alcatraz Island, yachts

  • I spent my first three days exploring alone because I have a very “permeable” personality and wanted to develop my own feelings for San Francisco rather than on what someone else likes or dislikes. It took two for me to fall in love with the city.
  • I headed downtown on my first full day – the public transportation is $40 cheaper than New York’s subways but is a lot slower.
  • Pier 39 is one of the most well-known locations in the whole city. It has touristy restaurants that reminded me of Cancun and is mostly famous for hundreds of adorable sea lions lying in the sun.
  • The other piers are surrounded by yachts in the water similar to Hong Kong. You can see Alcatraz Island from any of the piers and it’s almost always covered by Karl the Fog (just like the rest of this city, really).

This is the view from the main tourist lookout.

  • I managed to find the one bus that goes to the Golden Gate Bridge, so of course had to take a selfie with it. The bridge is so much more magnificent than my photo could portray.
  • It’s EXTREMELY COLD anywhere near the bridge. Be warned.
  • It’s pretty cold here any time there’s no sun. I spent my first few nights under my comforter watching Netflix – I was too cold to do anything else.

Japanese Garden & Japantown

  • I live near Golden Gate Park, which houses the Japanese Tea Garden featuring Japanese style flora and some Japanese architecture. It was still winter so there were no flowers.
  • There’s a lot more Japanese culture here in general than anywhere else in the US (hence San Fransokyo if you’ve ever seen Big Hero Six). Japantown is built in a more modern Japanese architecture style, and sells just about anything from Pokemon dolls to kimonos to adorable stationery.

This is the only location in San Francisco, at Fisherman’s Wharf!

  • I finally tried my first In-n-Out! For those of you who don’t live in the US, it’s a fast food chain in the USA West Coast (and parts of the South), and always in competition with fast food chains in the East Coast. My verdict – it’s so much tastier than Five Guys, sorry East Coast. I ordered right from the secret menu – the Neopolitan milkshake is the best!

The most beautiful hiking trail

  • There’s a hiking trail about 2 miles from my house called Land’s End. You can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance for the entire trail, but it’s dangerous to get good photos because the paths are narrow and there are no railings on the edge of the cliffs.
  • The trail begins at Sutro Baths, the ruins of a former swimming pool. The view down the stairs to the pool with the Pacific Ocean behind it is absolutely breathtaking. The end of the trail is Baker Beach, right at the foot of the bridge, with nice views of the mountains north of the city.
  • On Sunday I attended Church #1. A guy in New York connected me with his college friend who invited me to the church’s newcomers lunch. Initially I felt anxious because being in a room full of 100+ strangers reminded me of when I first started graduate school. But I made some new gal pals! The church is mostly Asians, aged 20 – 35.

A true palace for princesses

  • We had unexpected warm weather a few days later. I did not come here prepared for that so I put on the only dress I had to go check out the Palace of Fine Arts, a fancy Greek-inspired monument where people take romantic photos. The whole area is a park with a lagoon and grass on small hills. It’s a lovely place to relax! I caught two ducks on a date, and even a swan swimming in the water.
  • Among the houses I spotted what could only be a Barbie doll dreamhouse. It’s glamorous! Pink and feminine on one side, gray and modern on the other!
  • Warmth doesn’t last – it got so cold I had to go home and change into my sweater and jacket to attend Church #1’s community group that evening. The church has many community groups located throughout the city that meet on different days of the week to accommodate schedules. I chose to go to one of the co-ed groups because I wanted to meet and interact with guys in a safe group environment.
  • It seems like nobody here really wears jackets – everyone I’ve met wonders why I’m not durable in the cold when I’m from New York. Because we have heating all winter!

Week 2

  • Things got real in my second week. I could only bring one suitcase of clothes so weekly laundry was unavoidable. My house doesn’t have a dryer so I have to hang dry everything and that’s a workout.
  • The fruits in California are so much fresher and cheaper! I started adding many fruits to my daily diet which essentially began my sugar detox. I live down the street from some Hong Kong style bakeries and cafes, so I have an endless supply of cakes and milk tea to spoil myself with. Milk tea is unsweetened, but the only sugar I would eat every day is a little bread in the morning, then resist cravings by eating fruits and drinking water to mimic the taste of sugary drinks.

Hipster ice cream shop

  • I finally started meeting up with my very few connections here! First, I got ice cream with a girl who I met on my trip to St. Louis a year ago. It was a coincidence she lives in San Francisco! She takes the best photos, so we had a mini photoshoot right there in the shop.

Chompers!!!

  • As we were walking to the bus stop, we saw a cute little Corgi waddling towards us. Little did I know he has 100k followers on Instagram!!!
  • There’s a Corgi Con in June. I will most definitely be attending.
  • I hope Chompers will be there. He’d better be! <3

Japanese Miso soup bowl

  • That night I got hotpot with two girls I met from church. I never liked hotpot because everyone wants different food with different flavors, but the restaurant’s personal hotpots changed my mind with their pre-filled veggies, noodles, and meats.
  • One of the girls works at Yelp, which is how she found the place. I’ve always checked out restaurants on Yelp before eating at them, but I’ve never used the app before because I was so familiar with New York. It was all about to change …

A very New York vibe going on here

  • The next day I met a friend of my friend from New York. She and her husband are also from New York! We explored Union Square and Chinatown while drinking Boba Guys because we were lucky and didn’t have to wait in line.
  • Union Square and the surrounding downtown area, especially the Financial District, really remind me of New York! The architecture style is almost identical. I felt very much at home.

Chinatown!

  • San Francisco’s Chinatown is built on a hill and very cute. Look at how creative those street lamps are! It’s a bit of a climb to get up there though.
  • I still have a New Yorker mentality getting to places. I think I can just get off the train and walk if my destination is under a mile. Every time I get to discover the hard way that it’s an uphill walk. How come this city is so bumpy?!
  • The bumpiness also makes train rides highly uncomfortable. The main transportation here is this strange contraption that is a hybrid of a train, a bus, and a cable car. So, it’s a train because it has three connected cars, it’s a bus because the outside looks like a bus, and it’s a cable car because of the trenches and power lines it runs on.

Ooolala

  • This week was actually spring break, so a friend from NYUniversity flew over to visit his girlfriend who is also one of my good friends. She lives in San Jose, about an hour away, and they drove up to see me! I just had to take cheesy romantic photos of them at the Palace of Fine Arts!
  • We then walked around Crissy Field Beach and I unexpectedly took what would become my most liked Instagram photo! So far, anyway. I just started using it this year. After I posted this photo I got more and more photographers stalking my account, which is pretty cool for me.


And here’s me near the spot where that photo was taken!

  • That same night I Facetimed with another friend from New York. I really miss my friends, but it’s really hard to find a good time to chat because I’m usually still out during the best times for them, and by the time I get home they are too tired.
  • On Sunday I met the church’s college ministry because I was interested in mentoring college students. However, I began to feel this was my way of trying to recreate my home environment. Do I actually want to work with students, or do I just want to hang out with people younger than me because it makes me feel more confident?

Week 3

  • I stopped going out exploring, because I couldn’t play all day and also get work done. Even if I’m not working yet, I have my thesis game to build and my license to get. I had to tell myself that I live here now.
  • The job hunt process wasn’t getting any easier. I had sent out my resume to a number of places, but only heard back from companies I didn’t really want to work for. It’s hard on me because I’ve never been unemployed before. Ever since my junior year of college I always took whatever job I could get, but that was also how I didn’t get paid enough at Job #1 nor have a direction at Job #2.
  • I noticed that I’ve been getting better at taking photos, so I made a mini portfolio! Most of the photos were taken with my iPhone because I don’t have a lot of professional gear, but I might look into that more since there are so many places in San Francisco to shoot.
  • I visited Church #2 at their weekly community group. I found this one online and its demographic is significantly different from the first church. Most people are white Americans who attend with their families. I felt kind of out of place, but the pastor talked about how difficult but important it is to love people who are not like us. On point there.

Can I be a dancer?

  • My landlord/roommate and I went to get a haircut in the middle of the week. Most Japanese hair salons are so expensive, but Yelp found a cheaper one nearby with a Korean owner. She’s super welcoming and chatted with me while trimming my damaged hair. I wanted to keep my bleached ends because I want to color my hair again soon – comparing to the first photos in this post, you can see that my red faded.
  • I was pretty happy with my haircut, and she just curled my hair for fun. For some reason I always have a vintage look with curls. This time I think I come straight out of the 1920s.

Gorgeous German Shepherd

  • That weekend I hopped on the Caltrain and took it down to Silicon Valley for the first time! My friend picked me up to stay at her house in San Jose. Her dog Doodle is gorgeous! He seemed to follow me around a lot and wait outside my door hoping I would play with him. Unfortunately I couldn’t because I was there for a conference and couldn’t get my clothes hairy. 🙁

Happy after filling our tummies

  • My friend and I both graduated in December and went to Asia right after, so I haven’t seen her since, not counting when she and her boyfriend came to visit me. We finally caught up this time! She’s the sweetest. I took her to dinner and had my first Mongolian BBQ – how come that isn’t more of a thing?! This is also when I fell in love with Yelp for guiding me all the time. Now I have a place to upload all my food photos.

Photos by Christian Samuelson and Lola Cotero. Can you see me in the crowd?!

  • The conference, Women in Tech Festival, was hosted by Microsoft at their smaller Mountain View HQ. It was so inspiring – every woman there is an entrepreneur or a CEO. There was one eight year old girl who gave us all a talk on how she founded her own company. She’s eight oh my gosh.
  • A leader at Yahoo! gave a talk on how business is just like a greenhouse. Orchids cannot grow in the wrong environment and your employees cannot grow in a hostile work environment.
  • A lot of the conference was about diversity, which is not just limited to race and gender. There’s also homosexuality, disabilities, and pregnancy, which are all factors that can contribute to you being hired or not, and should not be. I’m so glad Silicon Valley is so serious about equality!
  • I encountered a startup brand called Argent, which sells women’s workwear in San Francisco and Washington DC. I got to try on some blazers and dress pants at their demo “table”! I can’t wait until I make enough money to afford their pieces, not kidding.

Mandatory selfie in front of Microsoft Headquarters.

  • There were also a few workshops and some job experts at the conference who taught me a lot. I now know exactly what it means to network. It means to meet different people across your career field and build relationships with them.
  • Online job systems are designed just to get rid of you, so it either takes luck to make it through, or know the right person to reach out to so they can get your resume seen. I’m a little disturbed that I never knew this and it’s been five years since I first started looking for jobs.

Week 4

  • Church #1’s community group this week was very deep and vulnerable. I began to feel closer to the members and am now considering if this church is the right one for me. The best part is that most people are young Asian professionals like me so I’d be growing with people I can get along with best, but it’s also a downside – not a lot of diversity.
  • I had a more promising interview and am waiting to hear back from them.
  • I visited Church #3, which is the most hip of the three churches. It looks more like a tech company office than a church. They have mixed demographic and a significant population of young adults. I attended their midweek young adult community gathering, and met a girl who is blind and also a software engineer. That’s a cooler job than any I’ve ever had.
  • Afterwards I met up with Hiro, who was in the city for her job. We are both from New York so we had a lot to talk about, and I felt like we grew up in very similar backgrounds. I can’t believe I forgot to take photos!!! The one time I do!!!

Red Bean Shaved Ice

  • We got shaved ice from the one cafe that was still open. Three weeks in my sugar detox though, I actually can’t eat anything high in sugar without my throat feeling uncomfortable. I didn’t really enjoy it.
  • There’s one thing about New York that San Francisco will never match up to. Nighttime. In New York I could wander at midnight and I always felt perfectly safe. I could also get food whenever I want to. Here it was pretty sketchy out in downtown when I was with Hiro, and it was barely 9PM. We didn’t have many other options.

Really tall redwood trees

  • Over the weekend I attended Church #1’s women’s retreat! We drove an hour down the California coast into Mount Hermon, a campsite for retreats and conferences. I’m really grateful to one of the pastors for sponsoring me, since shelling out $175 right now is super difficult for my budget.
  • The camp is built in the middle of a forest. Redwoods are the tallest trees in the world, and only grow in Northern California! They are also some of the toughest – their bark is resistant to insects and fires.

I look like I’m smiling but I’m actually laughing away my fear from climbing.

  • Of course I rounded up some women to go hiking, and parts of the trail were blocked by downed redwoods, which is unusual. It looked like it was eroded, so that is is probably how the trees fell. California’s been in a seven year drought until this past winter when heavy rains must have devastated this forest. Climate change is not a joke.
  • I’m really happy San Francisco bans regular plastic bottles and requires charges for plastic shopping bags, because every little bit for the environment counts.

Just some of the lovely ladies I got to meet!

  • Our speaker at the retreat talked to us about four times in her life when she suffered extreme hardship. Each of those parts of her life had a theme: how to face a death, how to forgive someone who repeatedly hurts you, how to redeem your soul from injustice you absolutely don’t deserve, and how to have patience in waiting for something you really want. I can identify with three of those.
  • Her story about waiting to get pregnant really shed light on my own. She must have been just as frustrated as me right now, even if the situations are different. I might be waiting for a job that I really want. Others people might be waiting for things that are equally important. We all have that in common. We’re always going to be waiting for things we cannot control.
  • I really enjoyed meeting so many lovely ladies of my church, and I feel nurtured and inspired by a powerful community of women.
  • On a side note, one of my classmates texted me she and her husband are moving to San Francisco. It happened to be April 1st so I didn’t believe her, but she’s serious! I’m gonna see familiar faces here soon!

They like sleeping all huddled up, for now.

  • While I was away, my landlords/roommates got new hamsters. They already have two Syrians – who are the sweetest girls – and three dwarves – the meanest boys. These three baby Syrian hamsters look like Tasmanian devils! They are very friendly already. None of them have tried to bite me, yet.
  • One of the babies escaped from the bin which was on the top stairs! I was sure he fell and died. But we found him on the first floor, alive and perfectly okay!!!
  • I named him Joseph because he is a survivor just like Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. I named the other boy John Cena, because John Cena happened to propose to his girlfriend as I was trying to come up with names. I didn’t name the girl yet.

This photo is not safe for work … because the cuteness can lead people to think this is okay.

  • My landlord tried to introduce one of the baby hamsters to the big hamster. DO NOT EVER ATTEMPT THIS. It may look cute but it can be potentially dangerous! Even I was surprised that she did not attack the baby. DO NOT TRY TO RECREATE THIS PHOTO.
  • I had a Syrian hamster when I was a little girl and he loved me, so living with a bunch of hamsters brings back memories as well as teaches me new things about them. Apparently if you put a male with a female, she will try to kill him after he mates with her, so remove him as soon as his work is done!

That’s just about everything that happened in my first month! In April I will be going on a trip to Chicago to attend my first wedding, and I’ll be back in New York in May for my graduation! I’m hoping to take some driving lessons in between before I start working. I’m excited! Until next time, friends!

Write a Comment

8 Comments to "My First Month in San Francisco"

Gillan wrote on 10th April 2017 at 9:55 AM

Ahh, San Francisco is beautiful!
The Palace of the Fine Arts is very IG-worthy, wow, I didn’t know such a place existed in San Francisco. It’s like a little Italy.
And Japantown looks awesome too!
Chompers and Doodle are so cute omg I live for dogs!!!
Wow, I haven’t seen a redwood tree myself but would love to. They’re so huge and I think I would feel like the speck in a universe that I am in midst of those trees.
An 8-year-old girl having her own business and giving a talk?! What am I doing with my life 🙁 Kidding aside, I’m so proud of her and the big things she has accomplished at such a young age!
Aww, those hamsters are just so adorable <3
I'm glad that you have made new friends in a new city! I'm an introvert myself and does have a hard time approaching people unless I have a specific purpose. (I find it easy to ask a stranger for directions than have small talk with new acquaintances lmao.)
I can't wait to read about your future trips and driving lessons! I took manual driving lessons half a year ago and they were exhilarating. I'm sure you'll do well <3

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Georgie wrote on 11th April 2017 at 3:33 AM

Hahaha I laughed when you said SF is so bumpy. I think people typically say it’s very “hilly”. Gosh, I’ve never been there, and I haven’t had a *huge* interest in going there to be honest, but your excitement for it – even though most people get excited in a new city – is infectious.

(Side note – I wouldn’t work for Yelp, you’ve probably heard Talia Jane’s story even though she had an attitude about it, and it probably doesn’t have the best of reputations.)

(Also, I prefer Zomato to Yelp, the website and app seem to be far cleaner. 😂)

I am really liking the photos you shared of nature. You sitting on the redwood tree looks amazing, I love that shot! I also think that the minute you post some awesome landscape or nature photo, other photographers on Instagram will be all over it. They dig it. 😁 And glad you got a photo of those amazing clouds.

It’s so cute that that corgi is insta-famous. 😆 I remember coming across a funny hippie man in Sydney, who had a cute dog and some interesting handmade signage in support of gay rights, and later found out (after seeing someone want a photo with him) that he had a couple thousand Facebook followers! Hahaha.

One time I met an online friend and I forgot to take a photo with her! I felt so silly afterwards, never gonna have that moment again LOL. 😐 Ugh.

There are so many issues in tech, as I am sure you will come to find. While it seems like SF cares about diversity and solving these issues, I think you will find that some issues are still evident and extremely common (take Susan Fowler’s story for example, about her time at Uber). When you do find a company I suggest asking about their diversity initiatives and try to suss out the way they will treat you, especially since you are a woman and sadly a lot of women don’t get treated very well. The same goes for other minorities I guess (like the fact that you are a person of colour). There are lots of events like the one you went to, that will be thoroughly in support of equality, but some more action definitely needs to be taken to make big changes beyond awareness 🙂

[Reply]

Cat wrote on 12th April 2017 at 12:07 AM

You did so much in your first month in San Francisco! I’ve actually been to most of the things in this entry. The few times I was in San Francisco, my friend took me to those places. The last time I was there, we walked around Crissy Field to catch Pokemon and ended up at the Palace of Fine Arts. It’s a pretty building! We also went to Pier 39 for Pokemon too, haha. I love all of your Golden Gate Bridge photos!

Yum, Boba Guys is good. We were got lucky too because there was no line. That miso soup bowl looks tasty too! San Fran has such good food!

Aahh, you look so pretty with curls 😀 The Women in Tech Festival also sounds amazing. I feel like it’s really inspiring to be at conferences like that and be surrounded by strong tech women. And whoaaa, an 8 year old who founded her own company??

That’s so cool that you met Hiro! I’d like to meet her in person one day since we’ve known each other for so long now 😀 The church retreat sounds like a great experience too. Redwood forests are beautiful to hike in.

Good luck on your job hunt! I hope you get something soon!

[Reply]

Michelle wrote on 12th April 2017 at 12:54 PM

My husband was born in San Francisco but it looks like a beautiful city and just a wild time there! THAT DOGGO! OMG

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Amy wrote on 15th April 2017 at 10:54 AM

Wow, sounds like you’ve had a busy month! It must be so interesting to move to a new place. I’ve lived in the same city my whole life, so everything round here is pretty dull because I’m so used to it. It must be nice to explore new places and see new things!

Glad to hear you’re making lots of new friends. The churches you went to sound really friendly, and it’s so nice that you’re meeting so many new people.

Love the photos, especially the dogs. That corgi is the cutest! And the Golden Gate Bridge looks beautiful. Shame about the cold weather though. Hopefully you get used to it!

Hope you’re settling in well!

[Reply]

Jenny wrote on 15th April 2017 at 7:35 PM

Wow you did a lot in your first month there! And can I just say that your photos of San Fran makes me want to hop on a plane and visit, like, right now? My husband always talks about how beautiful the city is and how it’s his favorite in the US, and I’m starting to see why. Just that Palace of Fine Arts alone is making me go ooh and ahh!

That’s great to hear that you’ve found a church already, I feel like that’s always a great place to get planted when you move to a new city. Best of luck with your job hunt and I hope you find one that you love!

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Tiffany wrote on 16th April 2017 at 4:41 PM

Has it already been a month since you left NYC? It’s been one month too long.

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Tara wrote on 2nd May 2017 at 9:40 AM

Ahhh! San Fran is THE city I want to visit one day in the US. I also can see myself living there if I had to live somewhere in the US. San Francisco’s architecture really appeals to me. And the hills . . . reminds me of Seoul, haha! Your photos, girl, are making me want to go there now! If only the flight to the US wasn’t so long X_X;

You’ve done a lot! What a whirlwind of gaiety! That corgi made my night, though. I’ve been on a corgi kick lately, and I find myself wanting one, so thanks for that photo! Those hamsters are so adorable, too!

And yay for one of your friends moving to San Francisco! It’s always nice to have friends in the same city as you 😀 I know I’d be stoked if any of my friends told me they were moving to Seoul or something! ^^

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