Monday, August 9, 2010

Retracing My Steps: Hello California!

My mom moved to Silicon Valley, California in June, so I decided to take a five-day layover in sunny Cali on my way out of the country. As the plane circled the San Francisco Airport and came in over the Pacific, all I could see out my window was the ocean drawing nearer and nearer to the plane. I'm sure my eyes almost popped out of my head, and I started to panic. What was the idiot pilot doing so close to the ocean?!?!? Turns out, the runway backs up to the water, and however seasoned the traveler, the first landing there is always terrifying. After flying all over the U.S., to Germany, England, France, Japan, and Korea, you'd think I'd seen it all. Maybe now I have?

When I arrived, I was half elated and half exhausted and half just wanted to go to Korea already. I know that's three halves, but like the (John Mayer?) song, I was bigger than my body. My mom was waiting by the baggage claim area and gave me a hug and a 'congratulations' for finally finishing school. We got my suitcases and headed home, stopping for a late night steak and onions for me and breakfast food for her. Yes, there is a restaurant that serves both 24/7. California is that cool. Over the next few days, we did the tourist tour of San Francisco and Silicon Valley, including the Stamford campus and its famous tree-lined street and beautiful buildings, the Golden Gate Bridge and a fort that overlooks the bay with Alcatraz in the distance, the sea lions that play and chat at the docks, Lombard Street's famous curvy section of red-brick road, and some local shopping areas. We like window shopping, but not wasting our money.

I remembered that I can't buy women's shoes large enough for my size 9 1/2 feet in Korea, nor can I buy deodorant (at least nothing that works), so we went shoe shopping and deodorant shopping. Hopefully they will last me at least 6 months. I can order things online, or have somebody in America send them to me at great expense, but I don't want to think about that right now.

Being my first time in California, I drank it all in. The summer is cool and sunny in San Francisco, and there are no mosquitoes whatsoever because it's not humid. My mom pointed out that many houses don't have screens in the windows because they don't need them. The houses are very different from Michigan houses. Michigan houses look old and like they are made for the sole purpose of withstanding all kinds of weather, which is largely true. In Michigan, the lake effect drives the weather crazy, even crazier than most midwestern states. In one day it can be warm t-shirt sunny weather, then rain, then snow, then be warm again. Michigan people all know to dress in layers in the transition seasons. I call them 'transition seasons' because Spring and Fall are each less than a month long, and more of a start and end of the 6-month-long winter. My mom says that the weather in northern California is always perfect. I can see that in the houses. But, the houses there are made to withstand constant sun and occasional earthquakes. They are stuccoed and painted in cheerful, clean colors. There are pastels, bright colors, all shades of white, blue, green, pink, yellow... I don't recall seeing a single gloomy house. Honestly, just the fact that there are no mosquitoes makes me want to live there, but it's extremely expensive. I guess everyone hates mosquitoes and winter. Ha!

San Francisco architecture reminds me of a mix between Florida and Paris. Of course, that's just out of where I've been, so it's probably not a good description. Anyway, it's gorgeous. If I get rich, that's where I want to go! Anyway, I can visit my mom the California licensed lawyer (congrats!) anytime I want, as long as I can afford $1500 for a round-trip plane ticket.

There's a little Koreatown where my mom lives. She showed me areas where every sign has Korean and English, or even just Korean. They have everything from food to healthcare to insurance. Koreans generally only trust Koreans when it comes to important things, so I'm sure the large Korean population is largely self-sufficient.

Other than that, there's nothing from that week that's pertinent to this blog, so I'll stop at that.

Next installment: getting to Korea and getting married!

1 comment:

  1. 안녕 Kristin!
    My name is Oskar and i am a 19, soon 20 year old guy from Sweden. I found your blog through some googleing :D
    Im leaving to study in Seoul this winter and 4½ years forward. im starting in Yonsei the 5th of Januari to study korean. Do you have any tips or experiences you'd like to share or think would be good for me to know. Planning to go through your entire blog during the weekends xD

    Best regards Oskar Wallin