Random Observations about America

by uber

I moved to the Bay Area* at the end of January to take up a job in the dreaded private sector. I am no longer nestled in the ivory towers of academe. It was a rather extended process for me to get over here, including a several-month-long process of obtaining permission to work. That in itself is worthy of exegesis, but probably not one that lives on the internet for perpetuity.

I had expected a degree of culture shock, despite the apparent total immersion in American culture that we undergo in Ireland. One of the most obvious elements is language: I struggle with ‘aubergine’, ‘cinema’, and I still -ise those words that need it (Oxford be damned).

I’ve moved into an apartment, and there are no halls, or corridors inside. The direct entry reminds me of the strange feeling seeing doors into living rooms that I would get from watching TV. There’re a lot of things that work like that: the eggs really are white; the milk comes in giant bottles.

I have a social security number, but it turns out the number that really matters in the US is the credit score. It takes six months to generate enough data to have a score. Before then you have to pay additional fees, deposits, or don’t even have access to a wide variety of services. Proof of resources is not enough: the computer says no.

The area around here, but I feel the culture in general, is very dog-friendly. Dogs are allowed into shops and other public places in a way that would be unusual in Ireland. This is also a relatively walkable place, for a suburb. That said there is still a pressing need for a car to unlock the potential. Walking isn’t really a form of locomotion here, despite amply evidence of running, hiking, cycling and other active lifestyles.

So far, so good. I will report back further if anything else strikes me.


Your Correspondent in the Americas

* In California, in these United States. I know, who would have guessed?