Here’s What I Learned When I Visited San Francisco For The First Time

san francisco architecture bridge fog

They say experience is the best teacher and being a traveler is a great way to learn. Going from one amazing place to another, traveling opened me up to new experiences, lifestyles, and insights.

One of the first locations I went to was San Francisco, back when I was looking for my first internship. Here are some of the most valuable things the beautiful Golden Gate City taught me.

The World is Bigger than Our Backyard

Living in a small country and city, I was content with what the world offered me there. Everyone there was family, life was comfortable, and goals were pretty much possible. But when I decided to visit San Francisco for the first time, it burst my bubble big time.

Suddenly, things were different: I knew almost no one, life became fast-paced, and everyone had to hustle to reach their goals. It was nearly the complete opposite of the lifestyle I had.

In hindsight, this experience showed something great – that there is more to life than what we imagine it to be. We don’t have to confine ourselves to what we know. We won’t grow until we break those walls and see the bigger picture.

Since then, I never stopped traveling and exploring whenever I can. I took a lot of San Francisco tours while I was there, getting familiar with the place I was. I also started to explore other cities and states, which led me to go farther from the small city I came from.

Don’t be Afraid to Take Risks

Like others, there was a time I was so scared of taking risks, happy, and content with what I had.  The fear of failure, as well as being uncomfortable with change, had a massive hold on me back then.

But looking at the city and the million-dollar companies that call it home, I realized it is built on risks. If those business owners did not take the risk of putting up the business, they would not be there. If people did not risk leaving their comfort zone, San Francisco would be just a regular city like others.

Sure, not everyone that takes risks succeeds in the end. Some may run through setbacks along the way. But if those setbacks are taken as lessons, those risks may still pay off at the end. And those risks became the foundation of some of the best businesses in San Francisco.

Embrace Your Passion, and Pursue It

Do you know what you are passionate about, or do you go with the flow? That was one question thrown at me during my internship that gave me a hard thought. In life, interest in something may not be enough. You have to find what you are passionate about and move in that direction.

How does one find their passion? First, look at the skill set you have, and do a quick inventory of the things you are good at. Next, reflect on the thoughts or ideas that kept you up at night. As one mentor once said, ‘whatever you are good at doing, plus whatever ideas keep you up, that is your passion.’

Knowing what you are passionate about is one thing, it’s another thing to pursue your passion head-on.  Passion is what separates a daily grind from an enjoyable workday, and passion is what makes someone stand out from the crowd. Having a strong desire for something makes you focus all your energy, resources, and effort into what you’re doing.

Without a strong passion for what you do, it would be easy to give up when the going gets tough. It makes every hurdle a disturbing one, and every victory seems worthless. And to make a mark in the already saturated market, passion is genuinely needed.

Adapt to the Culture You Are In

Culture is everywhere – in a nation, in the office, and even in the home. The culture on a specific place dictates how transactions are made, how relationships are built, and how life is lived. It is essential for people to understand and embrace the culture of the place and be part of it.

I learned this lesson the hard way the first time I was in San Francisco. Back then, not understanding the culture, I had a difficult time adjusting to the place. Not until I started accepting their world view and the way they do things that I enjoyed being there.

Adapting to the culture made me understand people more, and I wanted to go deeper. It makes you see things on a different perspective and removes the unfamiliarity of your new environment. This also helped me in my first internship, when embracing the company’s culture and mindset made work more comfortable and lighter.

My first visit to San Francisco will always be a memorable one. It started my hunger for adventure and drove me into discovering not only new places but also new aspects of myself.