Wild Young Minds: August 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015

It's a hard knock life... even in San Francisco!

My ''to-do list'' in this Golden State is growing and growing. Every time I meet new people, hear new stories or simply get lost in a new area again - seriously, these roads have as little logic as Amsterdam's city center - I can add another thing to my list. Places: Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, Yosemite. Bars: Zeitgeist (actually already been here, amazing Berlin vibe and at walking distance from my apartment!), everything on Valencia St., everything on Haight St. Things to do: a night tour at Alcatraz, go to a basketball game, visit SF Jazz Center... Enough. A week ago reality kicked in: back to university!

So what's university life like in the States? Well, I can't speak for the entire country, of course there's a huge difference between campuses: you have Ivy League, then there are universities like Berkeley and very pretty private universities and a bit further down comes San Francisco State University. After all, it's a state university. The campus is, and I think I've said this before, not too fancy, the buildings look pretty old and the cafetaria is nothing but expensive. But hey, that's not what it's about. It's about education, guys. Something we shouldn't forget in this modern world ;)

And education differs per class and teacher. I've heard horror stories about super strict teachers, who won't allow you to miss one class in the first weeks, give lots of homework and will literally tell you the course might be too difficult for you. Then you've got teachers, like mine, who are extremely easy-going, will allow you to eat in class, have only one rule, which is: enter the class with a smile (I know, that's not what I was made for, can't help the eyebrows, miss) and who literally say: the tests are very easy, if you study two hours as a preparation, you'll get an A. Oh yeah!

Cause what I did decide, before I came here, but most definitely now that I'm here, is that I don't want to spend too much time on my homework, on readings and essays. Kind of hard, since I've been perfectionistic all my life and I might say that ''I don't give a shit about the boring books'' but truth is that I do. So, how to balance the social travellers' life and the straight A-student life? I have not thought about this very clearly, but what I think it comes down to is: B's are fine too. They say that the average level in the States is quite a lot lower than in the Netherlands. I don't have a job or modelling work here, so I should have plenty of time to combine the two of them. I won't complain. I don't dare to anyway, I'm in San Francisco.

So, for those of you who are interested, a little bit more about the classes I'm taking. I'm only taking four, which sounds like a lot for Dutch people, but it's the minimum here at SFSU. The first is called ''Nietzsche & postmodernism'' and is about - try to guess it! - yes, Nietzsche. Our teacher is a very old lady (70, maybe?) who immediately dived deep into Hume, Kant and all those other guys during the first class. I'm doing my best to keep up with her, also because I think she's very awesome. She definitely was one of the cool kids in her youth. Anyways, another course is called ''Contemporary Moral & Political Issues'' and it's interesting as well. It's about issues such as war, abortion, animal abuse, free speech, etc. The teacher definitely wasn't one of the cool kids in his youth, since he comes across as a bit insecure and thinks everything we say is: ''cool!'', ''brilliant!'' or ''super!" Interesting folks, those Americans.

The third course is ''World Religions'', the teacher is quite chaotic, but in itself, I think it's extremely interesting, especially in contemporary times. I'm reading a lot about Hinduism at the moment, and that religion sure has some good stuff woven through it. The last course is my favourite one, which is: ''Food, Wine & Culture in California''. The teacher is the one who wants us to smile, but she's actually very funny, sarcastic and all about alcohol. We get to review restaurants, wineries and taste wine. What else do you wish for in a class?

So, enough about college. What else have I seen so far in San Francisco? Me and my friends did some touristic things, such as visiting Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard Street, Little Italy and the De Young Museum. I found a nice route for running - those hills are so damn steep! - we had some more house parties and we discovered a mouse in the kitchen. What?! A mouse? Yes, a tiny creature moving around the house, hiding in corners. I have to say that I'm not so shocked, since we had many of them in Amsterdam, but my roommates are pretty uptight. The landlady has sent someone to install traps, and I have to admit, I'll be glad if the creature has disappeared.

Any other news from the Western front? No all right, let's stick to Coast. Not really. I'm looking forward to Labour Day, which is next week, because I've got a little trip planned with some Italian exchange students: San José, Santa Cruz and Big Sur! Can't wait to travel around again. I might have to bring some of Nietzsche's work with me, but I'll be fine. Don't worry about me. I am even getting used to the expensive wine here. All in all, nothing to complain about.

Monday, August 24, 2015

''Did anyone ever tell you you look like Cara Delevingne?'' ''No! Never!''

So many things happening in such short time, I feel that I should write a post at least once a day, but well, that's probably not gonna happen. Not only because there's so much to do in this great state, but also because I still don't have any internet on my laptop. Story of my life, for sure. No internet in Amsterdam, no internet in San Francisco. But fortunately I brought many, many books and I have people around to talk to.

Anyways, today I feel like I should be writing a bit more about the first week, orientation week actually, of uni. Cause that's what I came here for after all! Something I kept forgetting the weeks before I arrived here. But reality is gonna start again and reality is gonna start again soon. Tomorrow... But well, the first week was only an orientation week, So it was not too bad. I met many, many people, heard lots and lots of shitty information that we all know by heart already - I mean, plagiarism, seriously? - and I've experienced that the San Francisco State University campus is not that pretty. 

And not that warm either... Must sound odd for Dutch people, but it's a true fact: it's about 5 degrees colder at campus than in the city. And it's only 20 minutes distance between the two of them. Honestly, I haven't seen any real sun at uni. It's always cloudy. It's a good thing that I live in the center :)

Orientation week was mainly about meeting people from different nationalities and hearing all about Americans and their weird customs. Most of them I already knew, for instance the famous ''Hi! How are you?'' and the over-enthusiasm, but I also found out that Americans give their phone number the minute they meet you. It's not a flirting kind of thing, but it's because they love to meet people (I think) and they are so excited about your life story, that they wanna know all about it in the future. In reality, they never call you back. Or maybe once, if there's a good reason.

So yes, all the information was a bit unnecessary, even though there were some useful things, like the fact that we learned that we have to have a travel permission from SFSU in order to travel outside of the States. Hawaii is a state, so we don't need it for this beautiful island. Some of my new friends are actually going there during Labour Day, but I decided to stay in SF - or go to Santa Cruz or a place closer - because tickets are damn expensive.

Fortunately there was more than just information, for instance a meeting at Dolores Park on Tuesday. I spent a lot of time with the girls from the first house I slept in, but also met many other internationals. To give you an idea: around 50% of the internationals is Asian, but I didn't meet a lot of them. They really do seem to stick together... I did meet a lot of Italians, lovely people. There are many Scandinavians here as well, lots of blonde hair that stands out in the hallways. Lots of Norwegians, lots of Swedes. They seem to get along really well with us Dutchies, and that's a good thing, cause we're with many as well! About 20 I think, which is crazy, right?

Thus, many internationals. But fortunately many people from California as well! On Wednesday we were invited to a fraternity party by a French guy who was very lucky and arranged a place via AirBnb which turned out to become his home for the next half year. It was basically a room filled with smoke, because Americans, or San Franciscans for that matter, smoke A LOT of weed. The smell was quite familiar, because I'm used to walking in the center of Amsterdam and experiencing the same. But the taste is different. I've tried some - yes, mommy and daddy, I did, not that it would really bother you, though! - and it sure is a lot stronger.

People really go crazy when you tell them you're from Amsterdam. ''No way! Are you kidding me? That's so amazing! I'm so excited about this!'' No, I don't mean to make fun of Americans. But they are definitely crazy about Amsterdam. I had to explain that ''No, I don't smoke weed every day'' or ''take magical truffles every week''.

Another thing I found really striking about house parties - I've attended three so far - is that alcohol is such a big deal. Of course, I knew that you had to be 21+ in order to get some, but I did not know they were so strict about it. Lots of people I met at the parties were under 21 - I felt so mature - so they are not allowed to enter most clubs. They either have a fake ID or just stay at home and drink. Which results in lots and lots of liquor bottles and wasted people. 

I do think that many young Americans are not experienced in drinking, and that's the reason they get so super wasted. They never drink during dinner, with their parents or at what we call ''borrels''. Such a difference. I'm very glad that I'm able to buy wine - I pity the prizes though - cause many people here are still 20 and that sure gives you trouble. I was actually thinking about becoming a dealer and make money of buying beers and wine for young people. You know me ;)

One of the house parties we attended was an amazing one. Me and two other Dutch girls joined a couple of American guys in their car to Sebastopol, which is a few hours north from SF. This might sound weird, but we knew one of them, Tynan, because he studied in Amsterdam half a year before. We had good fun listening to hiphop, crossing the GG bridge and looking at all the beautiful vineyards. Nature really does change as soon as you're outside the city. It's gorgeous. So we stayed in Sebastopol for the night, after a lovely evening with interesting conversations, burgers, drinks and a jacuzzi.

On Friday we were back in the city, which was also convenient, because I still had to take care of some things for the apartment. On Saturday I went to the Beat Museum and City Lights Bookstore, but I'll tell you more about that later, when I will - hopefully - know all about the cultural and literary history of San Francisco.

For now, I want to conclude my story with a really sweet compliment I received here in San Francisco. Something I have not heard about 500 times in my life so far. No, I should be grateful, it's a great compliment. ''Did anyone ever tell you you look like that model? The famous one? Cara!'' I've heard it about 25 times so far I think. She must be very popular in the States at the moment.
I actually had a discussion about it with my friend Jordi back home. He thought that Americans would probably not bother too much, because they're used to famous people. He turned out to be wrong. People go crazy about her. And me a bit as well. I still take it as a compliment, definitely, but after hearing it three times in five minutes it makes me feel a bit sad. Why? Because I'm also an individual with my own looks and life story. 

But well, I think that I'm gonna use this in my benefit as well. Next time, my response will be similar to this: ''Ah yeah, she's my cousin! We're super close''.  Who knows, maybe it'll take me some places I've never been, maybe I'll meet some people I otherwise never would've  seen. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. And that sure is a fine thing. 

Love from San Francisco! 

By the way, the photos don't really match the story, but they show my new room! 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Steep and Sunny San Francisco

Finally, my first post! A LOT to write about, but what I'd like to begin with: this city is a-ma-zing. It's beautiful, marvelous and wonderful. The people are friendly, the houses are gorgeous and the streets are filled with energy. Oh my god.

No worries, though. I haven't lost my personality yet. I'm still sarcastic, I'm still ironic and yes, I'm still frustrated when someone walks so god damn slow in the streets before me. I mean, this city is steep man, keep on walking. But it's hard to be in a bad mood here. As I said, the people are extremely friendly. And up until this moment I haven't experienced a lot of phonies yet, but that might also be because I've spent most of my time with either internationals or guys who love theirselves some weed and are relaxed in general. The 'Hi! how are you' is everywhere around of course, but you get used to it very quickly. And they have different variations as well, or dwell on: 'Hi sweetheart! Welcome to America. No way, your birthday is on the same day as my mother's. That's so funny!' Seriously, Dutch employees can learn a lot from the American spirit.
So yeah, San Francisco is treating me very well already. Let me expand a bit on the first days, as it'll be too much information at once to tell my experiences of the entire week. Exactly one week ago, minus 9 hours for my Dutch readers - as you're probably all asleep at the moment - I left my home, my family and my friends behind in the Netherlands. I completely left the student building I've been living in for 3 years, had some drinks with my parents and brother at the cafe Radion downstairs and met many friends at Schiphol who made sure I got on the plane safely. Appreciated that a lot!
My first flight was to Oslo, where I arrived around 1 am. Luckily I'd booked a hostel close to the center, so after I took one of these fancy Scandinavian trains, I arrived there and went straight to sleep. In the morning, I was woken up pretty cruelly by a bunch of Japanese people with whom I shared the room. Sorry for the racial tone here, but for real, who wakes up at 8 pm and stays in the room for one hour to cook soup? The smell enforced me to leave the hostel early and explore the city a bit.
Which was lovely. I walked to the Opera building, had some coffee and strolled around the streets. My flight to Oakland was to leave at 16.45 pm, so I made sure I was at the airport on time, which I managed to do. I won't bother you with too much information about the flight. It was fine, no highlights, no problems either. I watched Friends, the film Wild, tried to read a bit and listened to my music. I arrived in Oakland at 6 pm (cause of the time difference) and it was super hot. A weird experience though, because for me it was the middle of the night, but the evening was just beginning at the Pacific Coast, so I told myself to stay awake. Which was no problem, since I'm pretty used to little sleep and late nights :)
I couldn't get into my own apartment before Wednesday, but I had some contact with other girls already (who lived in the house I was supposed to be living in, long story, not really important) and they'd said I could crash at their couch the first nights. And since I'm such a big Couchsurfing fan anyway, that was no problem for me. I arrived there around 8.30 pm and I found myself in heaven. The girls had just cooked, so dinner was ready and the glasses were filled with red wine. What else do I need? I did smell a bit, but they didn't seem to care, so no problem there either!
Spending my first days with the two Emma's, Cindy and Jinte was extremely comfortable, because they told me all I needed to know about SF. Which is: 1) The food is really expensive in this town. Especially vegetables, which is definitely a bummer. One tomato costs 1 dollar and a few apples 3 dollars. Crazy, right? 2) The wine is also expensive. About twice as much as in Amsterdam. Fuck that, yes. 3) The MUNI (metro) system is very easy, you can buy an abonnement and travel unlimited for 70 dollars. It never arrives on time, though. 4) The landlady we both have is a special woman. I found out what they meant not long afterwards.
And many things I experienced myself the first few days were:
- San Francisco is steep. You have no idea until you actually experience it. The sweat that has left my body must've been enough for... you get my point. I miss my bike so much, but I'm a bit anxious about riding in town. I am gonna do it though, it makes you feel so much more free.
- But beautiful. The houses are colourful, each house is different (kind of like Amsterdam, yet more classic (Victorian style). There are many parks, lots of water and of course... the Golden Gate Bridge. Which really is intriguing. Such a sight. The area around the Golden Gate Bridge is gorgeous as well, many residential houses and a golf park. God, how afraid I was to be hit by some Tiger Woods to-be.
- The city is filled with hoboes. Especially around Union Square. Sometimes you think they think they're still living in the sixties/seventies, because they look quite similar to the hippies. They look a bit creepy...
- ... but they are actually very nice. No surprise, though, but you get what I mean. Especially around Haight-Ashbury, where I live.
 - Haight-Ashbury is amazing. I've got no words for it. So many thriftshops, filled with glittery jackets, vintage dresses, rings, rings and rings. I haven't seen a big record store yet, but I've heard they got many of 'em here!
- My house is pretty awesome as well. I share my room with an Italian girl, Lavinia. But she's the best. She's pretty excited about going out and buying vintage clothes as well, so that's gonna be good. My other two roommates are from Denmark and very nice too. As I said, we live in the middle of the cool neighbourhood, close to many stores and bars. As everyone who's close to me will know, that's something I've never experienced before. I live in the centre now! Finally! And I have a garden too! Hell yeah.
- The house has some drawbacks, though. The internet connection doesn't work yet (I'm in a cafe at the moment), there's hardly anything to cook with (but I guess we could buy those things ourselves) and the most inconvenient thing is that Lavinia and I have to go through A-K and Caroline's room to come in at night or go to the bathroom, whereas they have to go through our room to enter the kitchen. Especially because we seem to have different schedules, that  might be a problem. But that's something to worry about later on. For now, I'm really happy to have a room, it's beautiful and the location is perfect. Expensive though (750 dollars per month per person) but well, it's San Francisco.
And I'll conclude my first - extremely long - post with that. It's fucking San Francisco. I live in California now, I've met so many nice people already (for instance a lady in the metro, who complimented me on my rings, which turned into a 20 minute conversation and a Facebook friendship), and I've made many, many plans for the next few months.
Haven't gotten to the university part yet, but I'll try to do so in the next few days. Now I think I'm gonna walk around Haight for a bit, maybe visit Hippie Hill and see what my new friends are up to. Photos of my room are following soon. I hope Holland is okay - everyone in other parts of the world as well of course - and I hope you've enjoyed my first extensive post. If not, that's okay too. Just look at my awesome photos in that case. Keep you posted!

Love from California.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

And so... the California adventure begins!

Surprise! I'm still alive. I have not disappeared from this earth, neither have I found a job somewhere in Australia. I haven't written anything on this blog for quite some time - ages, really - but I figured it is time I start writing again. Why is that? First of all, since it's summer, which means I've got a lot of time on my hands. What's better than to use that for blogging? Cause I know for sure, my dear followers, if you're still there, you've missed me. Every night. Where's Bente? Is she still alive? Glad to comfort you.
No, just kiddin'. The main reason I decided to use this blog again, is the fact that I'm moving to San Francisco in two days. Yes, the city of my dreams, where people are gentle and wear flowers in their hair. My California Dream is beginning to become reality and I can't wait. Yet, it feels weird as well. I seem to end everything here in Amsterdam. I've succesfully finished my bachelor - cum laude! - and I'm leaving the student room I've been living in for three years already. Weird, yet good. I was the last woman standing, I've seen people come and go, and now it really feels like my time to go. New experiences ahead of me, new roommates, new locations. And the last thing that ends, is my job at the lunchroom. That feels kind of sad, since I had such a good time there, making coffees, taking orders and seeing people smile when they've filled their stomaches. But well, I might return, I might not, one thing's for sure: now it is time to spend all the money I earned there!
So yeah, how to spend it? First and foremost, on my room. San Francisco is a goddamn expensive city. Rents are rising the minute we speak, so that's gonna cost a lot of money. On the other hand, I'll probably be living near Golden Gate Park, next to Haight-Ashbury (where all the hippies used to live) and Castro (where all the LGBT's reside). Golden Gate Park ends at Ocean Beach, which is... yes, really... at the Pacific Ocean! And that means, morning runs through Golden Gate Park, a swim to cool down and then coffee in one of the hipster bars in the neighborhood. Records, vintage and red wine. I yearn for it, San Francisco provides it. What else do I need, really? Gentle people, yes. And some sunshine.
Well, this was it for now. I have to buy a suitcase this afternoon, have some goodbye drinks - all I seem to be doing these days - and grab the suitcase. Tough job. What to bring for half a year? You'll definitely be hearing all the things I forgot to pack, but well, that's life. That's the good life, actually. The good life I want to share with you the next half year. Hopefully you haven't forgotten me and otherwise, bring me back in your daily memory. Cause you'll be hearing from me again!

Love and greetings from Amsterdam,


photos by: Free People