San Francisco life according to three West coasters

PHOTO COURTESY OF AARON FONTAN

Aaron Fontan is a junior politics major.

Why did I come to San Francisco? Was it for the adventure, the reputation of the city, the seemingly never-ending development, the epicenter of arts and culture? Well, I actually came for the weather. Originally being from Southern California, the transition to Northern California gave me the cool comfort of the bay breeze. As the hottest days in San Francisco are typical afternoons back in Southern California, it was easy to acclimate myself to my new environment. A sunny day with a light breeze is the perfect combination for a picnic in my favorite park, Alamo Square. The beauty of the painted ladies color and elegant architecture against the backdrop of San Francisco’s rising skyline encapsulates the charm of the city. 

When I look at this city’s skyline, the tip of the Transamerica Pyramid represents the point of convergence for many cultures. Being part of this city means being part of the newest social and cultural movements, and trends that start here have an influence across the globe. San Francisco has become my personal playground, I can experience many different cultures, food, and art all in one day. My ideal day begins with getting sushi from Nijiya Market in Japantown, then eating Russian pirozhkis, and ending it with tacos from the Mission District. I came for the weather but ended up falling in love with the neighborhoods and people who make up San Francisco. 

PHOTO COURTESY OF ZOE BINDER

Aiden Williams is a sophomore marketing major.

I knew I wanted to go to the University of San Francisco after the first time I saw it from the satellite view on Google Maps in my bedroom in Seattle. The school’s proximity to Golden Gate Park and the Haight-Ashbury painted an unrealistic view of the neighborhood in my mind, as if I’d magically run into Jimi Hendrix just by walking by his big red house enough times. And I can tell you the first time I went to the Conservatory of Flowers to watch the projection show, I believed in the mental image I created of the whole city. I imagined Jimi Hendrix right there in the park as his music played from the surrounding speakers.

It didn’t take long before I realized how different USF’s neighborhood is from my imagined version of it. Instead of one dominated by the arts, I found myself in a neighborhood that lives firmly in the 9-5 schedule, one where work seems to dominate people’s life in what they view as an even exchange in order to be able to afford the new Tesla. Stepping foot off campus after 9:30 p.m., I’m met by dark windows and the suspicious glares of people a little too excited to join the neighborhood watch.

That is not to say I don’t love the city. The more I explore, the more it continues to open up before me. Little things make me fall in love with the city, like when I discovered that every Saturday comes with free entrances to the de Young Museum, or when I walked into a small Gyro shop hidden between two massive skyscrapers in the financial district and bought a sandwich that was the best $7 I’ve ever spent. From the Outer Mission to the Marina district and everything in between there is depth to uncover. It is in unveiling these layers I’m able to see San Francisco as the exciting and lively city I hoped it would be.  

Eliza Roach is a sophomore design major.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ZOE BINDER

While many USF students from all over the world are just beginning to explore San Francisco, I would like to offer a different perspective as someone who has spent most of my life as a San Francisco resident. My USF experience has been bittersweet. I am thrilled to share my love for San Francisco but feel a sense of envy toward those who get to experience it for the first time in their lives coming to college.

My parents and I moved from Daly City to San Francisco when I was three years old. I attended school in the Forest Hill neighborhood from kindergarten to eighth grade and high school near the Outer Sunset. Suffice to say, I know my way around. 

Whenever a classmate tells me that they are from out of town, I am eager to learn why they chose to attend school in San Francisco and excited to see that someone has taken an interest in my city. I jump at any opportunity to act as a tour guide for my friends. I am always thrilled to share the spots where I have made many fond memories, such as Golden Gate Park, Clement Street, and Union Square. People also ask me why I chose to stay here. I answer this question with excitement because it allows me to gush over my favorite city in the world. 

It may seem like I am completely certain that I made the right choice by staying in my hometown, but I still experience some nostalgia. My friends’ enthusiasm and curiosity about San Francisco remind me of my childhood and growing up immersed in all the city has to offer. I miss the excitement of seeing these sights for the very first time. I imagine it is close to the feelings my friends experience when they explore the city. 

I chose to stay home because I do not yet feel ready to live far away from my family. To be honest, though, I often wonder if I was meant to go to school in a new city. Seeing the curiosity and excitement about San Francisco in my friends’ eyes only makes me feel more conflicted. Still, I love this city with all my heart and thoroughly enjoy sharing it with my friends.

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