My Thoughts on our Upcoming Trip to San Francisco

Photograph taken by Soleil

Photograph taken by Soleil

In June, we will be traveling to the San Francisco Bay Area to visit our dear friend, Soleil. I was born on the west coast, so I can’t say for certain that this will be the first time that I have been to California, but I can say for sure that this trip will hold my first memories of the state. Growing up in the South, I have definitely heard some preconceived notions about the whole state of California, not to mention the San Francisco Bay Area specifically. Most of these center around the politics and social climate of Northern California.

People say, “Californians are all hippies,” or “Everybody there is a liberal.” They assume that people see celebrities all the time, that California is a hot beachy wonderland all year, and that everyone smokes marijuana. The South is full of its own stereotypes, but I will discuss those in a future post. Just like the ones about the South, most stereotypes about California are mostly incorrect.

While I don’t think that California is a hot beachy wonderland full of celebrities smoking weed and throwing up the peace sign, I do have some preconceived notions about the San Francisco Bay Area. There are many things that I think I am prepared for but know I am not.

Number One: Convenience (at a Price)

I’m excited to be in a city that has it all. Living in a medium sized (36,000 people) town in the South, we have to travel half an hour to get to things like Asian markets, Vietnamese food, specialty grocery stores, escape games, movie theaters that show independent films, the list goes on. Beyond that, we have to travel an hour and a half to two hours to get to the nearest “large” airport. Our town just got DoorDash which only has about 30 restaurants to choose from. Soleil lives in a suburb of San Francisco and can order from any one of 300+ restaurants and stores.

There is an excitement to knowing that you can readily access international markets, international restaurants, art museums, history museums, concert halls, giant multi-national tech companies, and literally anything else you could want. That accessibility comes with a cost. Median rent for a studio apartment in the entire San Francisco Bay Area is $2,569 a month. Prices in San Francisco proper can be much higher.

This is accompanied by the traffic. The biggest traffic jam in my town is during graduation weekend for the local university. Well, that and move-in weekend. My normal drive from one end of town to the other is fifteen minutes tops. I already know that as wild as I think the traffic is, I need to triple that mental image.

Number Two: Cold California

If you turn to the person next to you and tell them to picture California, they will probably picture fun in the sun, beaches, and heat. Depending on the area of California you travel to, this couldn’t be further from the truth. I am guilty of this false image. Even when I think of San Francisco, which I know is cooler than Southern California, I think of heat. I think of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Painted Ladies, but I think of seeing both of them in sweltering heat.

The fact of the matter is, that mental image I have of San Francisco in sweltering heat just isn’t accurate. Every location has their extremes every now and again, but San Francisco just isn’t that hot, especially when you compare it to the South or Southern California.

The average high temperature in Kentucky during June, July, and August is 84 degrees. On top of that you have to add so much humidity that you feel like you’re walking through water. When you sweat in Kentucky it doesn’t evaporate which just makes you feel even hotter. The average max high in Los Angeles during those same months is 86 degrees. That better reflects the mental image most people have of California, but San Francisco is another story. The average high in San Francisco for those same summer months is 67 degrees.

I physically can’t wrap my brain around the idea that Soleil told us to bring a jacket to go to the beach in the evening. She didn’t say, “We are going to the beach one evening, so make sure you bring shorts and a tank top.” No. She said to bring a jacket. I simply can’t fathom needing a jacket on a beach, no matter where it is. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to a vacation in the summer that isn’t unbearably hot, but I’m sure I’ll take time to adjust. I’m also looking forward to experiencing the fog, something that we only get here on rare mornings.

Number Three: The Diversity

Diversity needs to be its own post and conversation in and of itself and it will be. For now, I am going to focus on the vast difference between my town and Kentucky as a whole and the San Francisco Bay Area.

I crave diversity. I am practically starving for it. Kentucky is severely lacking diversity. I have been fortunate enough to visit Washington, D.C. five times and each time one of my favorite things about the city is the diversity. When you walk down the street you hear five different languages, see people of color, people of different nationalities and ethnicities. That’s not the case here. Any given day I see one African-American man at work and an Indonesian woman and Mexican man at my favorite restaurant. That’s it.

Every single other person is white. Sure, there might be people of different ethnicities and nationalities or other people of color in stores, but I am not kidding when I say they may be one out of a hundred or one out of a thousand. According to the latest census data, within my town 86.8% of people are white, 8% are black or African-American and only 1.2% are Asian. In San Francisco, only 48.5% of people are white. Less than half! Six percent are black or African-American, and 33.3 percent are Asian.

I physically cannot imagine 33% of people being Asian. I think, given that any diversity I do see is Latinx, Hispanic, or African-American, interacting with that many Asian individuals will be the biggest difference. Soleil says that we are not ready for it, especially the bus advertisements in 10 languages. It will be a culture shock, but a welcome one.

So tell me, what are the stereotypes and preconceived notions people have about where you are from? Let me know in the comments below or on my Instagram, @tsmacintyre.

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My Travel Goals | Mes objectifs de voyage

I sincerely hope that I one day get to travel to every country on Earth, but there are definitely some destinations that are at the top of my list. I’m sure there are tons of destinations that I don’t even know about, so please comment with your favorite city/country/area to visit.

Scotland, specifically the Glasgow area

I have always dreamed of making my way to Scotland. My mother was born, raised, and spent the first 25 years of her life in Scotland. She’s incredibly proud to be Scottish and she passed on this pride and love for Scotland to me. I have a crazy number of family members in Scotland that I can’t wait to meet.

France

I know that France is a stereotypical place to want to travel, but I have always had a love for French culture and the French language. I think there are many things that Americans could learn from the French, including daycare practices, workplace culture, and their views surrounding dieting and food.

Venice, Italy

Venice is a fascinating place. A dream destination since childhood, Venice is a city built on more than 100 individual islands, there are no roads. At least in my mind, that slows down the pace of life significantly. Without roads, Venetians are forced to travel by gondola through canals. The city I currently live in does not have a robust public transportation system, forcing everyone to drive. I can’t imagine a city without cars. Sounds dreamy.

China

A nation of nearly 1.4 billion people, China’s history dates back to 2100 BCE. They are a cultural and historical titan. This is not to say that the nation is not without faults, there are many, but during my childhood, few countries held me captivated quite like China. From their food (not the stuff you can get in small town America), their language, to their cultural traditions, China is a vast nation with plenty to explore.

Japan

I think a vast number of people in my generation (I’m a millennial) have a love for some aspect of Japanese culture. Unfortunately, most people have a very narrow view of the history, language, and culture of the Land of the Rising Sun. Anime, manga, and harajuku are such small portions of Japanese society. The Japanese have a deep respect for others, the environment, for history, and for culture. From Shinto to inemuri, Japan is a cultural wonderland.

What countries and destinations are goals for you? What destinations should I add to my list? Let me know here or on Instagram @tsmacintyre.

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Hello and Welcome! | Bonjour et bienvenue !

Hey there! Nice to meet you!

Hey there! Nice to meet you!

Bonjour et bienvenue ! Hello and welcome! I’m so happy that you have found your way to the very post on Tyler MacIntyre, a blog celebrating travel, world cultures, and language. Given that this is the first post from this new blog, I wanted to introduce myself.

I am so proud to be Scottish-American. My father met my mother in a small town in Scotland in the 80s. Next thing they knew they had fallen in love, got married, and moved to America together. It absolutely blows my mind that at my age, my mother was moving across an ocean. Her life changed in an instant and she took it all in her stride. I’m so thankful that my mother raised my brother and I to appreciate those of other cultures, always sharing traditions, food, and culture from Scotland.

Growing up, I always wanted to travel the world. My father spent 20 years in the US Navy and would send postcards from around the world. I remember getting postcards from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. I would ask him about Venice, Italy or Nice, France.

As I got older, this fascination with other countries, their cultures, and languages never left me. I spent my days researching the dynasties of China, the Empire of Japan, the French Revolution, the royalty of the United Kingdom, and the fall of the Soviet Union. Many people that grew up where I did will never leave the state. I have met people that have legitimately never left my home county. Ever. Not even to grocery shop. I never wanted that to become my life.

My parents at their wedding in Scotland. They were super cool.

My parents at their wedding in Scotland. They were super cool.

In university, I studied political science. I took courses in comparative politics, international relations, terrorism, and Afghani politics, among others. I was bound and determined, at one point, that I was going to get a Master’s degree in International Relations. I even tossed around the idea of entering the Foreign Service and working in our nation’s embassies. You know the saying “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough”? Well, my dreams were so big that I got scared and shut them down. I ended up concentrating on American politics and got a Master’s of Public Administration. I’m grateful to have a career in my field, but this passion for the world, its cultures, and its languages never left me.

I have recently felt stuck. I am happy at home, I am happy with those around me, I am happy at my job, so why do I feel so stuck? Why do I feel so bored? I asked my Facebook friends what they have done when they felt this way in the past. One person’s advice stuck out. She said, “…find a passion/hobby and try to master it. Not just lightly messing around with something, but really delving in and learning deeply. That way you’re challenging yourself and growing.” Then it clicked. I didn’t feel this way in college. Sure, I had the same existential dread that everyone has after that many years in school, but I didn’t feel bored. I’ve always loved learning, but since I graduated with my Master’s, I honestly haven’t really learned much of anything. How am I supposed to feel fulfilled and not feel bored if I’m not learning and growing?

Thanks, friend.

Thanks, friend.

I know who I am at work, I know who I am at home and in relation to others, but I don’t know who I am to myself. I have spent so long going through the motions. I get up, I go to work, I come home, eat dinner, watch TV/read/see friends, go to bed, wash, rinse, repeat. Even the weekend is one of a few options every single week. It’s a wonder it took me so long to figure out how to break up the monotony. Once it finally clicked, I started to wonder, what do I do. Not what do I do for work, not what do I do with friends. What do I do for myself? I’m sad to say the answer was just about nothing.

I knew I needed to challenge myself, to learn something, to explore and expand my knowledge. I had given up my deep exploration of international relations, world cultures, and languages years ago, but lately the itch has come back. This is thanks, in part, to Gloria Atanmo a wonderful travel blogger that I will tell you more about in a future post. She travels full time and has such a zest for life, for learning, and for growth and exploration. I love to travel, I love the cultures of the world, I love language, and I love to write. It naturally followed that I decided to follow in her footsteps, creating a blog.

Now, I doubt that I will end up traveling full time, host retreats, speak at conferences, work with companies and travel boards, and gain tens of thousands of followers, but if I do that’s wonderful. If I don’t, that was never the goal to begin with. I just want to learn, to grow, to explore the world, and to share it all with you. This website gives me a sense of accountability, knowing that someone, anyone, is reading what I write, expecting me to continue. It gives me an outlet to express myself. Most importantly, it gives me focus, a purpose, something to work on. I’m so excited to learn, to travel, to grow and I’m so excited that you’re here with me. Allons-y.