San Francisco I have arrived!

         Photo taken at Bakers Beach, San Francisco, California

As mentioned in a previous post I had been getting ready to relocate to the States… I have now well and truly arrived! This is my first time living away from my friends and family for a prolonged period of time and I am happy to say, ‘so far, so good’.

I arrived on the 30th of September and checked myself into USA Hotels on Polk and Jones. I stayed in a four-bed female dorm. I had booked myself in for just under 2 weeks knowing it would be tough to find accommodation, so this gave me plenty of time. The hostel provided you with bath towels and breakfast (pancakes, bananas, ‘oatmeal’), and wi-fi. This hostel is close to Union Square but also the Tenderloin, it’s safe once you do not go wander a few blocks over (walking away from Unions Sq.).

Day two – I checked out the Irish Immigration Pastoral Centre (IIPC). This is a wonderful facility and I would advise everyone relocating to check it out. The Irish community is very close and I have found everyone is willing to help you out. They run workshops, meet ups, have a list of possibly accommodation options (short-term & long-term) and career options (mostly laboring, hospitality & personal care). Since arriving I have attended their LinkedIn workshop, graduate meet-ups, networking mixer and their November Irish remembrance mass.

Coming over here I was determined to live with different nationalities and immerse myself in American culture, this is easier said than done! I had spent weeks on Craigslist before coming over and continued the hunt when I arrived… I was getting nowhere (literally no responses). Through the IIPC I met Emma*, she had been on the hunt longer than I had and knew her way around. We found an apartment together in Central Richmond. Here a week and I could finally stop living out of my suitcase (& obviously check out of the hostel early)! The apartment came unfurnished but that was easily sorted with an overwhelming trip to Ikea. I now live with 3 Irish girls and could not be happier!

Advice when looking for an apartment :

  1. Craigslist is where it is at – instead of applying to ads place your own ad, say where you want to live, your budget and a little about yourself.
  2. Arrange private viewings if possible, there is less competition this way as you get to spend 1:1 time with the renter.
  3. Go to viewings equipped with a statement of income, a reference and most importantly the DEPOSIT! We had no credit rating so this was important.

We are now fully set up and taking advantage of all San Francisco has to offer. Before I sign off I am going to leave you with some tips I wish someone had shared with me when setting up.

  1. Internet – we decided to go with Comcast as it was already operational in the apartment block. You can pay an additional charge for someone to come set it up, to be honest if its common sense, save the $. So far so good the services has been reliable.
  2. Mattress –  Aladdin Rugs is where it is at. I got a Queen mattress (spring & memory foam) for $225. Albert (the owner) is helpful, honest and such a character.
  3. Mobile Phone – this is something you should set up the day you arrive! Make sure googlemaps is both compatible and reliable on your phone, especially if you are travelling alone. When I first arrived I set up a pay monthly plan with Metro PCS, I quickly changed over to T-Mobile to the $85 per/mo plan. Its expensive but I get 5BG Data, unlimited international calls & texts (to mobiles & landlines).
  4. Google Express – when you sign up you get 4 months free delivery. They have a number of retailers on board (Target, WholeFoods, Costco, etc.). If you order before 1pm you can get that day delivery. My only compliant is that the delivery windows are quite wide but the door to door delivery makes up for it.
  5. Uber & Lyft & Sidecar – too late for public transport or sometimes its just quicker in a cab, check out these apps. When setting up an account get a friends code (or use mine) and it means your first ride is free and they also get a free ride.
    1. Lyft – ciara738507 – personally this is my favorite. If you are a party of 2 or it is just yourself I suggest you use LyftLine, this means you share the cab with people going the same direction as you and your cab turns out to be super cheap!
    2. Uber – ciarae7 – Uberpool is the same as LyftLine but I’ve found it slightly more expensive.
    3. Sidecar -the cheapest of the three, but not as well known. Haven’t used it enough to have much of an opinion.
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Those 3 Questions…

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I am moving to North American at the end of the summer for 14 months. This is something I have always said I would do, so when I told my parents I was going they were like ‘yeah ok’ and I knew what they really meant was ‘come back to us when you’ve booked your flights’. I could understand this reaction as we hadn’t actually been home from Chicago 24 hours and also the fact I had been going to America for the last 3 years.

Now, the date has been set, visa has been approved and flights have been booked, it has become a reality! Slowly, I have begun to hear my parents tell people and talk about it as a reality. There are three questions that are repeatedly asked, the sequence varies…

Question 1: Do you have a job set up?

Question 2: Do you have a place to stay?

Question 3: You know people over there, don’t you?

… but it all ends the same, ‘I’m sure you’ll have a great time’, to which I politely smile and thank them.

It is funny to watch everyone’s reaction when the answer to all three questions is no! There is that look on their face that screams ‘ARE YOU CRAZY’.

The truth is I can’t bloody wait. I am the eldest in my family and have never lived away from home on a long term basis (excluding the adventurous summer spent in Chicago, but that is for another day). What appeals to me most about moving is the fact I know no one, no baggage, no expectations, a fresh start!

Don’t get me wrong I will miss my family so much, but as my 7 year old cousin reminded me over the weekend, we now have Whatsapp, FaceTime (not that I actually have an iPhone) and Skype. It is not as if my own form of communication is a letter in the post!