Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hello San Francisco !

CDG Airport
The last two weeks, I had both great and bad moments. From my flight’s delay of more than 10 hours in Paris to my quest of apartment in San Francisco, I tried reminding myself that “things are what they are, and whatever will be, will be” (from the book of Jonas Jonasson The hundred-Year-Old Man who climbed out of the window and disappeared). By the way, although I will not make a summary of this book I definitely recommend it to you. It was difficult to stop worrying but this book helped me to keep in mind that things will happen no matter what we do, so let’s go without the worries…

I will start with the great moments. I just moved to San Francisco for my one year master program of social entrepreneurship at Hult International Business School. As the name indicates, my school is very international because we have people from all around the world. For example in my team work, there are people from Norway, Indonesia, United States, Colombia and Cote d’Ivoire (myself). Add the fact that other students in my program are from Nigeria, Brazil, Senegal, Belgium, France, Japan, Mexico, India … With one of my teammates, we are already planning on exchanging language skills; so who knows what third language I will be speaking by the end of the year?

Another great moment was when I visited the city with my father and brother who happened to came in US for their work, few days after I arrived in San Francisco. With my older brother, we got a chance to do a nightly big bus tour and see this incredible city by night. It was windy, but it was worthy. 

Third and last pleasure was the great books I bought at a big book sale event. I am planning to offer these books before leaving San Francisco but for now I wish to spend unforgettable moments with them. 

As I said at the beginning of this article, everything was not pink and flowers. I am now coming to the bad side of the last days… When people tell you that San Francisco has high rents, you may not actually assimilate how high these rents are, at least I did not. I spent almost 2 years in Atlanta, renting an apartment at a price that most of my friends qualify high compared to other parts of the country. Therefore, I thought that the rents in San Francisco could not be far from those in downtown Atlanta. I was so wrong…
I will spare you the details of my quest but I will just share the lessons I learned while looking for an apartment. The first one is that if you have to live in San Francisco (and probably in other parts of the world) you should do your best to secure an apartment at least a month before you have to start school (in my case) or work. Although I did not find anything suitable there, Craigslist might be a good way to find an apartment or roommates (if you are not afraid about living with complete strangers you meet online). For those with a higher budget, you can also check Zillow.com. However, I have to tell you that studios, not even 1bedroom 1bathroom apartment, are ridiculously expensive for their size. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS! You want to live on the west coast? Experience life in San Francisco? Great! But do not expect to have the same comfort as back home unless you are willing to put a lot of money in rent.

Another advice is that if you can’t find an apartment to stay - especially because it’s difficult to rent a place you never visited - I would recommend that you book a room with some housing providers like Vantaggio that are much cheaper than hotels. I have experienced both so trust me when I tell you that they are great deals! Of course, you also have to book many weeks in advance because they get rapidly full, especially when students and workers are going back on track.

Despite the difficulty of finding an apartment, San Francisco is an amazing place to visit. In addition to the fact that it is one of the most walkable city in the world, there is always something going on. There are many networking and learnings opportunities available. Last week for example I went to one of the dreamforce events where Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube and Jessica Alba, co-founder of The honest company were both panelists and talk about their experience as mothers and successful tech and business women…

I did not publish since a very long time ago but change will come in chaa Allah :) I am eager to share everything I learn here. S
o, see you soon!