I remember getting on the plane and at Denver (the stop over) feeling almost like I could close the book for now, and go back to feeling comfortable, knowing that a different chapter had begun which I could dip into at will; the reality kept hitting me that this was my story and I couldn’t leave now. This was both very stretching, but also thrilling.
A week before leaving, I discovered that the weather in San Francisco isn’t always very good. One of the reasons I had picked California was to escape the greyness of the UK. After flying over miles and miles of visible land, the plane began its descent through, what felt like an endless fogbank into the airport.
I don’t really remember much about the timespan between this and moving into the house I stayed in, but I was in a hostel for possibly a few weeks whilst looking for somewhere to stay. What I do remember, though, is:
- Eating Chipotle for the first time, and feeling a bit out of my depth.
- Meeting a girl (from the UK, via her German room-mate) in the hostel who was also doing the exchange program (she later ended up being one of the ones I went with to New York and Hawaii).
- Eating Chinese in Chinatown, with someone else who was on the exchange program.
- Doubting my own ability to make friends and withdrawing into introvert mode a bit. In heinzeit (and through much more experience) making friends whilst travelling is generally very easy.
- University ‘orientation’, which included: cheerleaders, a crocodile mascot, and an American lecturer insulting the French and the North Korean exchange students.
- Someone kindly giving me change for the bus when I didn’t have any on me.
- Meeting someone who was doing the exchange program from my university, who was friends with my old roommate (small world).
Eventually, via craigslist, I found a place to stay near the beach (probably the most foggiest place in the micro-climate districts of San Francisco). I made the mistake of trying to walk there to see the place, and eventually got a bus when I realised that I wasn’t going to get from near 2500 31st Avenue to near 1800 31st Avenue any time soon. The place was in a mini Chinatown area, and was owned by a Chinese couple who lived in, and rented out separate houses. I remember not being able to move in for a few weeks and staying in a really cold basement apartment with a friend of the landlady.
After these few weeks were up, I moved into the new place. It was quite an odd place, there were about ten of us there altogether, including the landlady, who was obsessed with cleanliness; but I didn’t realise quite how much so, until living there for a while. The hallway carpets were covered with plastic sheets, and I needed to: take off my shoes to come into the house, then put slippers on, but not wear my slippers in my bedroom. Also, certain doors were to be left open, and certain ones closed. It was going to be an interesting few months. The other housemates seemed nice though.