Wild Young Minds: Zen in San Fran

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Zen in San Fran

Seven weeks, already. From now on, I'm not gonna count the weeks anymore, since it makes me feel depressed. Time flies. And there's so much I haven't seen! This is my main stress factor here. Not necessarily the midterms or the essays, but all the things I have to do now that I'm in California. Big Sur, Yosemite, Las Vegas, L.A., San Diego, Napa Valley, Mexico, Canada. Stop it! Just enjoy the moment and relax. But how do people do it? My best friend this semester, Nietzsche, was all about ''living in the moment and dance''. Dancing is not the problem - as my friends here in SF have found out last week - but living in the moment is damn hard.

Anyways, you might feel that it's a big-ass luxury problem to only stress about all the fun things you have to do while being on exchange in the West Coast. You're absolutely right. There are few things I have to worry about here. I'm still surprised how quickly you get used to a new city. Directions took some time - unfortunately I don't have the same natural talent for routes as my brother - but thank god for GoogleMaps! This app saved me the first few weeks, it shows you exactly where to go, which bus to take, at what time and it brings you all the way to the bus stop. After seven weeks, I don't need it anymore to go to school (I'm not that retarded, no really) but it still comes off handy when I'm meeting friends at a bar somewhere Downtown.
I've also gotten used to the prizes here. That is, food prices. I know that it's most cheap to buy canned vegetables, canned fish and chickpeas. After my two days of sickness, I decided to completely stop eating meat, so I don't have to worry about cheap burgers or chicken. I know which supermarket to visit for the cheapest deals, something I unconsciously learned from my dad at a very young age. I buy fruit and vegetables at Trader Joe's (one pepper at Safeway costs 2 fucking dollars), coffee at Safeway and gum at Target. I'm still not totally used to the prize of the alcohol in bars, but I've decided that drinking at home before going out is a better option anyway. A bottle of gin only costs 10 dollars. And you can have a lot of fun with gin & tonics, I've found out :)
So what do I miss about life in the Netherlands? To be honest, not that much. I miss my bike like crazy, I miss the salads I had for lunch at Singel 404 and I miss my record collection. What about people? Of course, I'd love to be surrounded by my Dutch friends here, but then again, you meet so many new people, and it's fun to make new friends. Isn't that what's an exchange is all about? Besides, with the modern technology I have so much contact with people at home, sometimes it doesn't even feel like I'm on the other side of the world. Thus far my sentimental message - not my best trait, as you can tell.

Let's go the things I don't miss about the Netherlands. As the title already suggests, it's mostly the stress. Life in San Francisco feels a lot more zen. I know it's not necessarily the city itself, it's probably just the fact that I've left my busy student life in Amsterdam behind me for a while. There are a couple of reasons for the zen feeling here. The most important one is probably: more sleep. The party life here is totally different, since parties start around 10 and end at the latest around 2. Quite different from Amsterdam, where me and my roommates often got home around 4/5 in the morning, ate some tosti's, after which I slept for a couple of hours before going to work the next day. I have to say, this way of partying is a lot more healthy!
During the week, my life feels more structured as well. I never have class before 12.35, which means I almost never have to set an alarm clock. I do have to read a lot for school, and I have to write responses about every chapter or book I read, but when it comes to the content, the courses here are a lot more easier. I have to make an exception for my Nietzsche course, which is quite hard. Try to read him once, he's tough. So many metaphors for so many ambiguous concepts. But well, it's fun to learn things. I respect my teacher and with each week, I seem to understand Mr. Moustache better and better.
Whenever I do an online quiz for one of the other courses, however, I feel I'm not even taken seriously. The teachers ask multiple choice questions and the answers are literally written in the book. You've answered 10 out of 10 questions right! Oh, really?
I shouldn't compain, though. Homework takes up some time, but not that much. I run a lot here, which is pretty cool, since you go up and down all the time and you explore different parts of the city - mostly Lower Haight - very well. The only problem are the traffic lights. You walk 20 meters and you have to stop again. Ah, there are worse things.
My weekends are completely stressless (is that a word?), so far. It makes a big difference that I don't have a job here, so all of a sudden I have free Saturdays and Sundays! They've been filled quite well, though. Last week me and my friends rent bicycles and biked the Golden Gate Bridge. I felt like a little child again, so happy to be on that bike! We made a lot of pictures - gotta act like a tourist once - and took the ferry back to the city.
The previous weekend we went to the Treasure Island Flea Market, where you find all you (or I) need: clothes for 5 dollars, records, books, books and books. So guess what, I bought many books. I've decided to not give a damn about the weight I have to bring back, because 1) my parents will be visiting in December and I already told them not to bring too much stuff with them and 2) I can always ship them back. I bought many beauties I've been looking for a long time. For those who are interested: Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs), Visions of Cody (Kerouac), Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut Jr.), The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) and many more.
One of the Swedish girls celebrated her birthday in Dolores park last weekend as well, so we all brought wine and watched Back to the Future, which they viewed for free in the park. A great audience, yelling and clapping whenever Marty McFly passed by on his fabulous skateboard. On Sunday, I experienced one of the most interesting things ever: Folsom Street Fair. If you think Gay Pride is outrageous, go visit Folsom Street Fair. It's an annual fear for BDSM leather lovers. You could spank for donations (no kidding! The redness of the behinds was clearly visible - yes, that turns some people on!) and people were either naked or dressed in obscure ways. I've never felt so plain in my life, but it was definitely worth the visit!

So what else is worth mentioning? Well, I went to a baseball game. SF Giants against LA Dodgers. Leggo Giants! Beat LA! It was definitely cool to experience this once, the stadium was beautiful, but sadly enough, the game was quite boring. Since I'm used to soccer games - oh, how I love to see Feyenoord play in De Kuip - I'd expected a bit more action. Turns out there's not that much action in baseball. Never too old to learn!
I've also eaten at Cheesecake Factory, which isn't really a factory, just a restaurant for people crazy about cheesecake. But they also offer normal meals. So I ordered a Vegan Cob Salad (hipster and proud), which was huge. It included chickpeas, tomatoes, beans, beets, almonds and much more. SO good. The cheesecakes we ordered afterwards were good too, but I've never felt so full before. I thought I'd never be hungry again. Of course, the next morning I was, so I ate my usual toast with peanut butter (though I do miss Calvé a little) and hummus.
I guess that's it for now. I won't bother you with the awkward house parties we've visited (basically young people being completely wasted, while we were just getting started and the party stopped an hour after we arrived) or with more money or food related things. Next weekend is filled with concerts, so lots to write about in my next post. On Friday, Emma and I are going to one of the most legendary artists ever and singer of one of my favourite songs. One hint: Ignition! On Saturday and Sunday I'm going to the Hardly Strictly Festival, which is a free bluegrass festival in the Golden Gate Park. Some artists that are performing: Joe Jackson, Fantastic Negrito and LeeAnn Womack. Hope you are doing as many cool things as I am, wherever on the world you - my readers - are. Enjoy the evening/night/morning or noon (time differences are so complicated) and I'll keep u posted!

No comments:

Post a Comment