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Silicon Valley, Six Months Later

September 20, 2016

Maybe you’ve been wondering why I haven’t posted on this blog in over four months. The main reason is that my energy has been going elsewhere. In February, I defended my PhD thesis and relocated to the South SF Bay area (aka Silicon Valley) to work in tech. Most of my energy, since then, has been spent adapting to a new job and settling into a new environment. To be completely honest, it’s been difficult. I defended my thesis, prepared for an international move and started a new job all within one month. Hindsight is 20/20: if I had to do it over, I would take two or three months off after completing my degree to give myself a buffer to complete this transition.

Six months later, I have mixed feelings. I’m not sure how I feel about Silicon Valley. I picked an apartment in the South SF Bay because I wanted to be close to work. I’m able to bike to work, which is nice. However, as someone who grew up and lived all her life in a big city, the area feels very suburban and well, boring, to me. In all likelihood, part of the problem is that I don’t have many friends here. Once the work day is over, I often feel very lonely. It might sound cheesy, but this is probably what I regret most about leaving my hometown: leaving my friends and family behind.

I try to look at the bright side: I’m happy with my job. I like my boss and my coworkers. People here work reasonable hours and the work is challenging. I have my own place for the first time in my life. It’s a big apartment in a quiet neighborhood, it’s a comfortable place to live. Silicon Valley is a huge tech hub. It’s a good opportunity for me to learn a lot. Because I don’t go out much these days, I’ve actually made a decent amount of progress on my programming language project in my spare time. I also installed an electric motor on my bike and completed some electronic projects. These things give me some satisfaction. Still, loneliness is hard, and I don’t quite feel at home here yet.


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  1. Alice permalink

    Sorry to read that…

  2. cyan permalink

    Indeed, finding places to wander around after job is difficult,
    which means it requires dedication.

    In Paris, we had a website called “On Va Sortir” for that purpose,
    hopefully, some roughly equivalent solution exists in Silicon Valley.

  3. Mike S. permalink

    It takes a lot of courage to move far from home – let alone outside your native country. And I think as you get older, the life experience and work you experience you get from this adventure will help you have more confidence and address social and technical challenges with a broader perspective than most people. I’ve lived my forty years all within Pennsylvania, and while I love my life I do feel a bit like a country bumpkin next to friends and colleagues that have lived and worked all over the world.

    Please forgive me for making an obvious suggestion, but with respect to establishing local social connections have you tried and similar sites? I am trying to attend at least one or two technology oriented local Meetups per month. While a small aspect of my attendance is establishing connections I might need some day for a job search, it’s mostly about finding local friends with common interests.

    Good luck.

  4. +1 to meetup or hanging out at a local place that caters to your hobbies. There should be some maker spaces in your area that’ll help you connect!

    I’ve moved quite a bit and found that my first priority in order to make the move successful besides work is getting social and making friends.

    Best of luck Maxime!

  5. I can’t imagine living in the SF bay area but I sure love to visit it. The computer museum. Downtown San Francisco. I live in a big city ( Toronto) and I feel like I never take advantage of the big city things I could take advantage of. Music. Film Festivals. Culture stuff. I guess you have your pick of a 1000 interesting meet-ups, in your location.

  6. Doug permalink

    I hope you’ve found some friends since this was posted but I just wanted to let you know you’re not alone – I moved up to silicon valley and stayed for about a year and a half before returning to LA, and it was definitely tough to make friends up there. There are so many engineers in the valley and obviously we’re not the most extroverted bunch lol. I found that meeting people outside of tech really helped, and hanging out in San Jose where there’s a younger crowd was fun. It’s tough when you make a crash landing into the area like so many people do, but just keep it at and things will fall into place :)

  7. Sad to say I share the experience and isolation is a real problem. It’s hard being a “transplant”.

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