Skip to Content

SF Initial Impressions

Brief timeline update:

  • May 17: Fly from Champaign to Boston
  • May 31: Fly from Boston to San Francisco

I’m currently living in downtown SF (Mission area), and working in South Market. It’s honestly been a pretty overwhelming experience so far. I expected some changes to my daily routine, but not this many. Let me just start from the top and work my way on down.


First off, I’m staying in a very Hispanic city neighborhood. I’ve never really lived in a proper city before, where you shop at bodegas instead of grocery stores. On the other hand, the culture is great, so no complaints. I really should try and learn at least a little Spanish this summer to read all the signs better. I live right next to a huge church with a glowing cross, backlit with bright blue LEDs. It pierces through the night like some kind of alien Excalibur and I’m kind of in love with it. There’s always some kind of music drifting up to my window, generally from the public transit spot on the corner.

My house is a little interesting too. It’s a 3 bedroom / 1 bathroom I share with two other guys. They seem pretty quiet in their day to day stuff, and I don’t expect we’ll interact that much honestly. Roomwise, there’s a kitchen and… well, and nothing. There’s no living room or dining room or anything else. As far as I can tell, no one here is living in one of those, all three bedrooms seem like bedrooms. The room is a little smaller than what I’m used to, but comparing city aparments with Midwest houses just isn’t fair. My room faces a slightly busy street, which is bothersome in the mornings. Two bus stops right outside my window is the best alarm clock one never asked for.

Oh, forgot to mention, the entire apartment is on the second story (we’re above some burger shack). High enough that I’m not worried about anyone breaking into through windows, but low enough to keep me paranoid that everyone on the street is looking at me. I only mention this because my romm has three massive windows, and it’s a shame to keep them close all the time. Who knows what random inspiration will walk by in a place like this?


The other big change has been my work. I’ve never worked for a startup before, so I expected some changes of course. First thing, the whole workspace is a very nice two-story apartment. It really fits right in with the stereotypical images you see of everyone in Silicon Valley working away in their hacker hosues. Of course, I work for a satellite company, so you need a hardware lab to actually make everything. Haven’t seen one of those in an apartment before, so I was impressed!

Next came the SaaS overload. I don’t want to get too into the stack we use just for confidentiality reasons, but I can give a general breakdown. We have:

  • Two apps for source control
  • Two apps for managing documents (Word/Excel/Powerpoint/Figures etc)
  • A todo list app
  • An app for chatting/instant messaging
  • An app to do all the HR paperwork + health benefits
  • An app that delivers groceries
  • An app that uses ML/DL to order lunch (why…)

Sure, the majority of these apps are just websites, but it’s still pretty crazy how many different services get used day to day. It’s a bit of a culture shock compared to the workflow I’m used to over in my research group. The team is great overall though, they’re a real fun bunch to work with. I haven’t done anything meaningful yet (only day 2), but that should change this week!