I have visited San Francisco twice before, but only a few days at a time. This time around I'm going to live here for at least two years (unless all my plans fall apart for some reason) and based on what I've seen and experienced so far I'm pretty confident I'll love it.
It has been a week since I left Norway for Northern California, more specifically Berkeley and San Francisco. While I'll be attending the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, located in the town of Berkeley (duh) in the East Bay, I have thus far lived in downtown San Francisco in my friend Helena Price's apartment. Helena is a professional photographer (check out her website!) and knows the city very well, having lived and worked here for five years. She has been kind enough to put up with my incessant questions about the ins and outs of the city, has shown me around, and has introduced me to her friends, all of whom are lovely people.
I have visited the Berkeley campus twice so far, poking my head into the J-School to show my face and to get to know people. I've met some of the other students in the incoming class of 2016 and all the staff and faculty that I have met so far seem like wonderful people. What I have noticed however, is that they're always reminding us to enjoy our last days in freedom, so to speak, because the upcoming semester will be intense, demanding, crazy, work-heavy, full of pressure, so on and so forth.
While I have zero doubt that the upcoming semester will be incredibly challenging, demanding our utmost attention and effort, I have a sneaking suspicion that the good people at the J-School are trying to put us in a mental state where we're prepared to work our asses off. I'm entirely OK with this. I'm of the opinion that hard-won excellence is better than easily attained nothingness and laziness. Exerting no effort may be easy and temporarily comfortable but nothing good comes of it in the long run, so I'm really looking forward to running myself into the ground, writing until my fingers bleed. I hope and think my writing will improve, but if it doesn't, at least my typing will.
(If my assumption about their tactics is entirely mistaken I will freely admit as much on December 12th, when our first semester comes to a close.)
Finding a place to live has proven to be a challenge. The plan is to rent a place together with my friend Nicholas, who's working as a cafe manager in the city, somewhere in the East Bay, preferably close to Berkeley. All the warnings I received from friends in the area were spot on; it's really hard to find a place here. Apartments move quickly and the rent is fairly high. Being that San Francisco has become the most expensive city in the US to live in, this explosion in rent has started affecting surrounding areas like Oakland and Berkeley. In other words, a good deal of luck in finding a place would be really helpful.
All in all, San Francisco appears to be full of creative and friendly people, a lot of homeless people, the smells of urine and marijuana, awesome, cheap, and delicious food, and some great schools. Seems like a great place to live and thrive for a few years while I improve my writing and photography. I'll take it.