Week 4 – Reflecting on Cultural Competence

San Francisco, a city on the west coast of the United States, is not very different from the east coast in terms of the culture. However, there are still many things that I have to assimilate. This is my first time in this city. From the first day that I arrived at the present, it has been more than four weeks, and I have already got used to most of the culture here.

Since I am living in the downtown of San Francisco, the first thing that shocked me was many homeless people on the street. Even though I heard that there were numerous homeless people in San Francisco, I was still surprised when I arrived here. Famous as the home for many big companies, the gap between the rich and the poor is much severe than what I imagined. Homeless people wandering on the street and the unpleasant social security made me uncomfortable at first. I was not able to go out alone after the sunset, which is different from my life in Pittsburgh before.

The second thing that I could not get to is the high living cost. Before I came to this city, I knew that the housing price here is almost the highest in the United States. Nevertheless, I still could not adapt to the pricing here in the first several days. At the first evening, I planned to get something to eat with UberEats. To my surprise, the same burger from the same fast food chain was almost double priced as other places. Besides food, I also need to spend much on other things. For example, I have to pay for every package delivered here. The laundry also costs a lot, even much more than in New York City. People working here also suffer from enormous pressure due to the high living cost. Everyone is struggling and try to work efficiently to earn more money.

The public transportation is also a part of the culture in San Francisco. Even though there are buses and subways in this city, it is still not convenient for many people. The subways are fast, but it often delays for more than ten minutes. This is trouble for people who need to be punctual. Buses are slow because of the heavy traffic. I usually go to work and go home by taking Uber with my friends. However, the fee sometimes is very high after work due to the high demand. Therefore, I could only walk for many times. Biking is also very popular here. To avoid the heavy traffic and save money, many people choose biking as the way they travel. However, since not every street has the bike lane, biking may make the traffic more chaotic. To be punctual and be better at time management, I spent some time assimilating the traffic here.

In terms of work, the culture is also different from the east coast. The working schedule is often from 10 in the morning to 6 in the evening. Even though people can start to work later in the morning, getting off work later and the heavy traffic in the evening does not leave plenty of time for me for my other interest. Therefore, I have to adjust my schedule for my habits and the biological clock. For example, I was used to go to bed at 11. Now I have to go to bed at one so that I can have time to cook and work out at night and sleep more in the morning. Besides the schedule, the communication method here is also somewhat different. Since communication is crucial in the workplace, I tried my best to adapt to the way here. For example, people here are not straight forward as people on the east coast. Therefore, I have to try to understand their exact meaning behind superficial words and sentences. Due to the pressure and fast-paced living style, people are always working with high efficiency all the time. No one wants to get slack or waste time for any second. It was also hard for me to adapt to my busy life at the beginning.

Even though San Francisco is also a city in the United States, and I have been living in the U.S. for three years, this city still has many differences in culture from Pittsburgh. I was not used to many aspects, form the traffic to the workplace, from the first day I lived here. However, after staying here for more than four weeks, I adapt to the culture here and start to enjoy it.