America, 1: California, Berkeley, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, pictures

3 weeks ago we moved to the US. Berkeley, California with my wife. I’ve been admitted to Full-time MBA in University of California Berkeley, HAAS School of Business and happily accepted the offer.

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I tried and failed to find some time to summarize my first impressions from the US, but now all household-related and other crucial things are finished: we have everything from bed to vacuum cleaner and tea pot, know where to buy groceries and what buses to take. So, I have no excuse not to squeeze several minutes in for blog before I will need to fully dive into the experience.

I also decided that I should probably lower my own demands for new posts. As I think about ways to make each one of them a complete and comprehensive piece which will have a real utility for majority of readers, I tend to procrastinate more. So, instead I will  try to write what I find interesting, edit it just a little and hope that some of you will find it interesting as well. As they say, better done than perfect. I will even do something more terrible. I will post pictures from my smartphone as well, not only the ones from my camera.

So, back to California.

Overall, I love the place. I still believe that Northern California and Bay Area specifically is as close to my preferences in regards to opportunities, climate, people and culture as a place can get. Obviously, there certain advantages and disadvantes in each place I will probably discover more of them later on, but overall I did not feel that comfortable in any other country before.

Some completely random impressions that were running through my head

  • First of all it is just weird to realize that you finally got to the place where you wanted to spend some time, work or even live in if not from your childhood, than at least for many years;
  • Secondly, when everybody thinks of California, they imagine a very hot weather. Reality is that recently it was about +14 °C n  morning and about 18 °C in  afternoon. And yes, I am still thinking in Celsius! :) Add strong wind fro ocean and occasional fog that blocks all the sunlight and you’ll know what I’m talking about. But I actually like weather here, not too hot, not cold. A little warmer would be fine, but that’s exactly what’s forecasted.
  • We moved to University Village. It’s a very quite place where most of your neighbors are UC Berkeley students which is nice. It is relatively far from campus though, about an hour walk or 25 minutes on a bus. And  honking trains is probably also not something you want to hear at night, but that’s not that bad;
  • After like 10 days of being here we finally found a place where you can actually see and touch the ocean instead of seeing it from highway, walked around Marina Berkeley. Beauuutiful!
  • Amazon and other deliver services work completely differently here how they work in Russia. Instead of calling you in advance and arranging a delivery time, they simply drop your stuff in front of your door and leave. They ring a bell though, so if you are at home and you are quick, you have a small chance to see a delivery guy’s back from a distance

  • Walked around beautiful San-Francisco:
    • Went to a coffee house which we found on Foursquare and which turned out to be legendary place to go for an espresso, called Blue Bottle.  It was kind of shocking to see a long line waiting to simply get a coffee. Although, I’ve always been a big coffee lover, I still believe it’s mostly all hype and PR ;
    • Walked around several other districts;
    • Got even more shocked by the number of homeless people, especially on certain streets.
  • Walked around Silicon Valley:
  • Another strong impression is how much fewer people there are on streets and everywhere compared to Moscow. This actually makes public transportation much more bearable!
  • People are mostly more relaxed and positive (ok, maybe with an exception of bus drivers);
  • There are a lot of people on bicycles and for good reason, it is almost a perfect place to ride one. I personally changed from Strida with 16cm wheels to Trek Allant with 44cm wheels;
  • Variety of food you can buy is awesome;
  • So far, I only went to the school itself to organize several minor things and participate in 3 days long optional workshop, but was already pleasantly surprised by the number of bright people around and by how engaging lectures can be.
  • On Monday, Aug. 19, Orientation week starts that will consume almost all the time starting at 8am and ending in the evening. And, then, almost right after that, the actual semester starts. Let’s see if I will be able to prioritize appropriately between all the competing demands I have.

I will also try to post to Twitter &  Facebook, hopefully a little more regularly.

Written on Aug, 18.

Some pictures:

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Non only deliver men are invisible here, but also lakes are!

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  1. Максим, Поздравляю с большим достижением, прожив пять лет в СФ, считаю что лучшего сочетания природы и климата чем в бей эрии не найти

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