When I first found out I was moving to San Francisco, I was overwhelmed to say the least. I had lived my entire life in Massachusetts, with only a few brief visits outside its jagged borders. Nonetheless, I was excited to move across country. Popular entertainment like The Social Network and Silicon Valley had lodged California in my mind as the place to be for young developers, with San Francisco at the center of it all.
A few things caught me off guard during my initial days in the golden city. For instance, my first meal ended in a staredown with three trash bins, nervously deciding which was the correct home for the styrofoam cup in my left hand. I took my best guess and immediately felt the disapproval of the man in the fedora across from me. My first walk back from the supermarket proved equally problematic, periodically dropping bread, fruit, and Oreos because I stubbornly refused to pay the extra 10¢ for a paper bag.
The city streets were flooded with interesting characters. Filled with performers, peculiar dressers, and even an enthusiastic gentleman demonstrating his belief that passing children were actually moon owls that have been dressed up by the government to sell toothpaste (I didn’t quite follow it either). It is also a strong belief of mine that anyone living here for more than five years is a certified meteorologist, able to explain the intricacies of fog, cold fronts, and microclimates at a moment's notice.
The politeness and friendliness of the locals really took me by surprise. Suddenly, I was the outsider for not jaywalking at every opportunity I had. It proved to be incredibly simple to start a conversation with anyone, whether waiting in line for the bus, relaxing at a local coffee shop, or browsing the shelves at one of the many indie bookstores. It was also very apparent how much love the inhabitants had for their city. Describing an activity as ‘very San Francisco’ was not uncommon. I’ve even found the name of the city to be sufficient as a standalone sentence. Simply uttering ‘San Francisco’ on a crowded MUNI train garners supportive nods from your fellow commuters. Seriously, try it out.
Unfortunately, the process of finding a place to live was not as smooth and painless as I had hoped. This on its own allowed me to share an experience with many San Franciscans, and it presented me with a fail-safe conversation starter. With the housing market in such a hectic state, I was not able to move into an apartment for two months. Thankfully, I was able to spend the interim in what was essentially a ‘Hacker Hostel’, giving me the perfect environment to dive into the tech world of SF.
Tech Culture in San Francisco
Living in this city has proven to be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience. It has allowed me to grow both as a developer and as an individual, and I look forward to the many experiences and opportunities San Francisco has yet to reveal.
John Kohler is a Yeti Alum. A former software developer co-op at Yeti from Northeastern University's computer science co-op program.