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The Intern’s Guide to Surviving Summer in San Francisco

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Hired as summer interns, we came to San Francisco with mixed expectations. Jessica Moore (interactive design intern) was born and raised in Sunnyvale, CA, so she’d been to the city often enough. I had visited twice before, but only for short spurts of time. Simon Luppescu (software engineering intern) had never been to California before in his life.

Though we all had different levels of experience with the city, none of us knew what to expect from our ummer here. Here is what we learned during our summer in the city.

What are we enjoying about the summer in San Francisco?

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Kellen McKillop (Editorial/Social Media Intern):

  • The weather

“I was born and raised in Hawaii which has a very humid climate. Every summer I would head to San Diego to visit my grandmother. Even though San Francisco is at the opposite end of California, the early morning, as the sun hesitantly burns through the thick fog, is the same and fills me with a sweet nostalgia.”

  • The fact that there’s always something to do

“Usually I am quite the homebody. Since being here I have yet to spend a day lollygagging around my house. I run through the park, find great restaurants, explore the different districts, wander the Farmers’ Market, attend music events, and try different beers from a seemingly endless amount of pubs.”

  • The food

“San Francisco has the most amazing food. I can’t get enough of it. I’m having so much fun trying out all of the different options here. The other evening I went out in the Mission and ate at a phenomenal vegan Mexican restaurant called Gracias Madre. There were sweet potato quesadillas… need I say more?? I’m also a HUGE fan of the food trucks. I live just down from Haight street so there’s no stopping me when it’s food truck day. Last week I tried the Korean BBQ Chicken with Pineapple Koja. [See photo below]

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It totally blew my mind. Shredded sweet BBQ chicken and pineapple between two rice patties. It was awesome, like a slider/musubi!”

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Jessica Moore (Interactive Design Intern):

  • The weather

“San Francisco’s weather is great unlike the hot and humid New York where I went to school for the past four years. It’s always cool here.”

  • The fact that there’s always something to do in San Francisco

“As a young person its nice because it’s quick. There’s Everything to do. There’s never nothing to do (unlike the suburbs).” Currently living at home in Sunnyvale, Jessica knows firsthand what the slow suburban life feels like. She is appreciative of the time she has been able to spend in the city this summer.

  • The food

“Eat. Drink. Be merry.” There’s such great food in the city. Basically any type you can imagine! “Sourdough bread. That is all I need to say.”

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Simon Luppescu (Software Engineer Intern):

  • The city’s layout

Simon is originally from Chicago and went to school at the University of Rochester in New York. He compares and contrasts Chicago and NYC to San Francisco. San Francisco has a certain “spaciousness.” Although the city is actually much more compact than the vast New York City, it doesn’t feel that way. “I think SF is nice and spread out. The streets are large and downtown is pretty bright. I know SF is a very dense city but it still feels open to me. SF is pretty similar to Chicago, but Chicago has trains elevated above the roads and it makes it kinda cramped and dark in some areas.”

  • New people and places

Simon has been enjoying exploring and learning about the city.  He is constantly encountering new people and places. “Since I have never been to California before, this new experience in an unfamiliar setting is exciting because there are continuously new things to do.”

Outside the city is great as well. “Berkeley is really cozy because I’m near UC Berkeley’s campus and still near college-age people.” It’s a quiet neighborhood, but if he feels the need for more hustle and bustle of a large city, then Simon can easily take BART (when they’re not striking) to the city and enter the urban areas.

What surprised us?

Jessica:

  • The distribution of the homeless population

“You learn how to walk to avoid the streets with a larger amount of people living on them. I know that 3rd has less than 4th and so I opt for 3rd when I’m walking. Also, there are some spaces that smell strongly of urine. This surprised me. It’s very pungent.”

Kellen:

  • How used to washing dishes I have become

“The house I live in at the moment does not have a dishwasher. I am a known ‘set downer.’ You know, the type of person who eats, sets the plate and fork down, and moves on to whatever task is next thinking that they’ll wash the dish a right after they finish the next thing they’re doing. Living with four roommates, having no dishwasher, and not having a very big kitchen area, has transformed me into someone who washes my dishes immediately after I am finished using them. It doesn’t even faze me anymore.”

  • How generally happy people are

“I usually take the N-train when commuting to and from work. One day it was so packed I felt like a sardine. The woman’s hair in front of me kept hitting me in the face. I was very annoyed, but the man next to me was extremely chipper. He was explaining to some tourists that he had tried taking the 71 instead, but that it was just as crowded. He wasn’t complaining about it, just stating it matter-of-factly. He had come to terms with the fact that there was no way around the rush hour bus crowd. I was trying to be angry about how crowded it was, but in the wake of his cheerful mood, I couldn’t help but feel happy as well.

Simon:

  • How many companies are headquartered here

“I knew that the Bay Area has a lot of tech companies, but some really unusual ones are out here too, like Reddit, Imgur, and Craigslist.”

  • The San Francisco hills

San Francisco is known for its hills, but you don’t really realize just how steep they are until you are climbing them. “I am surprised about how many sloping streets there are here. There are some very steep streets in this city.”

IMG_20130628_142932What advice would we give someone who’s moving here for a summer to do an internship?

Go for it! Just keep the following points in mind as you start planning for your summer in San Francisco.

Housing:

  • Start looking for a place early on. It can be hard to find a place you want to live in for a price you can afford.

  • See if you can couch surf in the city for a while. Most people renting out rooms in houses are going to want to meet you before they agree to live with you.

  • Think about living in Berkeley. Don’t worry about the commute. You’re probably going to have a commute no matter where you live. Berkeley is less expensive and easier to find housing in. As long as there is no BART strike, it will be pretty simple to get to the city.

Clothing:

  • Make sure you have at least the one week’s worth of office wear.

  • Bring cold weather clothing. Yes, I know it’s a summer internship, but San Francisco is famous for the Mark Twain quote “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Although there is some speculation that Mark Twain never actually said these words, it does not make them any less true. There are some warm days, but there are other days when you actually question what season you are in. Bring cold weather clothes. You will need them.

Money:

  • Be aware that living in the city costs quite a bit of money. Rent + Food = $$$ Save up as much as you can before you move.

  • Keep track of spending. It can be easy to lose track of how much you’re spending; especially when people are always wanting to go out for drinks. Be sure that you are budgeting wisely. I suggest using your bank’s website to constantly check up on your accounts.

  • Know where your ATMs are. If an ATM is not directly associated with your bank, it will have a service charge. A lot of places in the city are cash only so you’ll want to find where your bank’s ATMs are so that you’re not being charged for taking out money.

Transportation:

  • Learn which districts are not safe to walk through in the evening.

  • Download the SideCar and Lyft mobile apps. These car services are a lot cheaper and more reliable than taxis.

  • Get a monthly Clipper card pass so you don’t have to buy a ticket every time you take a bus or train.

  • Practice getting to your workplace before the first day. That way you can figure out how long your commute actually takes. (Hint: It will probably take longer than Google Maps suggests.)

  • Download NextMuni or QuickMuni to get pretty accurate estimates of bus times.

Explore Tourist attractions:

  • Ghirardelli Square. There’s chocolate and ice cream. A great place to go to satisfy your sweet tooth.

  • Pier 39.

  • Fisherman’s Wharf. Clam chowder in a bread bowl from Boudin. Worth the crowd, the wait, and feeling like a tourist. The soup is so hot and delicious and the bread is perfect for soaking it all up!

  • California Academy of Sciences. On Thursday nights, the museum re-opens its doors. Young people dress up, go inside, grab drinks, explore the museum, and dance! It’s a great place to mingle and have fun with other young people.

Further recommended reading:

  • 25 Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving to San Francisco
  • The Bold Italic’s Moving to San Francisco guide to neighborhoods
  • SF Fun Cheap to keep your social calendar full of fun and affordable activities
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2 Responses to “The Intern’s Guide to Surviving Summer in San Francisco”

  1. Perry

    Don’t forget to mention music. We have music around everywhere. Check out Yoshi’s if you like Jazz

    Reply
    • Melissa Suzuno

      Yes, that’s a great suggestion! San Francisco (and the Bay Area in general) has a thriving music scene and a variety of venues both big and small. What’s your favorite way of keeping up with which performers are coming to town?

      Reply

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