San Francisco, California, USA

They often talk about reverse culture shock as a phenomenon when you come home, and although I’m not sure I felt that (because I’m already so culturally ambiguous/confused to start with), I did feel like I was noticing a lot of things when I got back.

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The most San Francisco thing you can do: wait 45 minutes in line for an overrated organic pastry, while wearing an OH KALE YEAH bag. You can’t make this stuff up.
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Not even 500 meters away, a guy playing tennis with a smartphone holstered to his belt. Two questions for him: why are you playing tennis with a belt, and more importantly, what call could be so critical that having the phone on the bench would not be sufficient???
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One food establishment has managed to make the culinary process so impersonal that you never have to see a live human (or animal) at any point: you order on your phone, and then pick up in little cubicles that light up with your name. I don’t know whether I should be impressed or appalled.
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I don’t know what to think when, of all the things to lock up, this Walgreens store puts its toothbrushes out of burglars’ reach.
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San Francisco also has some of the most visible inequality you’ll see: homeless encampments right in the middle of one of the most expensive (that is, gentrified) districts.
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The most visible, and protested, symbol of gentrification: the massive and very anonymous coach buses that crawl the streets in the morning and afternoon commutes, picking up tech workers and shielding them from stares, or worse yet, pictures by passerby.

But for all its quirks, I do have to say San Francisco retains a charm and appeal that’s hard to describe, but readily apparent when you walk the streets and open spaces.

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