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International Student travelling to California.

Hocky27Hocky27 Registered User regular
edited April 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Next year I will be travelling to the USA as a foreign exchange student from Australia. I am undecided between whether I want to go to either Los Angeles or San Fransisco. I will be studying at California State University for only a 6month period.

It seems to me that SF would be a more intimate experience with the Uni being more centrally located in the city. Being able to get around easily on public transport or by foot is something that is very important to me as I don't plan on buying a car whilst there. However I haven't heard about as many things in SF as I have in LA.

LA obviously has Hollywood, Long Beach, Malibu etc which I would like to see simply because I have heard of those places through movies and TV. The city doesnt seem as accesible to me though with travelling to those locations seeming like rather long trips with public transport.

Basically I am looking for people to tell me about the pros and cons of each place so I can make up my mind on where to go. Criteria is pretty much that I would like to see as much as I can just through public transport and walking.

Thanks.

Hocky27 on

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    KPCKPC Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Yeah, if public transit is your main concern, then SF's far better than LA's. Places of interest are closer to each other than in LA.

    SF people will tell you that you made a right choice in going to SF because they think LA sucks and the people are fake. LA people will tell you that you made a right choice in coming to LA because LA is fabulous and that they are from SF.

    Both are good choices, but your main criteria pretty much cements SF for you.

    KPC on
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    Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    -Born and raised in the SF Bay Area, went to college at UCLA, currently living in Melbourne for work secondment.

    As a college student, do not expect to get around in LA via public transportation. The city as a whole is actually rather anti-student, and pro-commuter regardless of the area in which you are living. That's not to say that you can't have a fantastic experience there, but if you're expecting the glamorous LA life, don't. Los Angeles holds the dubious distinction of being the first metropolitan area in the world designed for the modern automobile, and it shows. In order to get anywhere, you will need a car. But the entire region is rife with bottlenecks, because, in order to get anywhere, you need a car. It will take you an hour to get anywhere (e.g., the beach, the clubs, your mom's house), and friends with cars are at a premium. Really, life here is a matter of managing expectations. For the most part, you will be limited to the campus grounds, and the few blocks surrounding them. A large minority of students are commuters, and night life is pretty much going to be whatever social circle you have established, and whatever party or gathering you manage to hear about in the area. Life is expensive, students have no money, and people generally make do with what they have. I may be biased, coming from the SF Bay Area, but the people in LA generally tend to be much more shallow - everyone is engaged in this giant feeding frenzy of looking good, being fit, and trying to look as trendy as possible while managing their shoestring student budgets. That being said, I managed to find great people while I was down there, so take from that what you will.

    San Francisco is a great city. It's relatively compact, public transportation will get you where you need to go and runs pretty late, and if you're desperate you can always hail a cab and it will get you from Point A to Point B in the city for $20. There's always stuff to do on the weekends, public parks are plentiful and accessible, and the students there tend to live in the dorms or nearby because there is just not enough parking around to warrant commuting (but it's the U.S., so a commuting population into any college is pretty much a given). Also, unlike in LA all the colleges are pretty much lumped together, and because the city is so compact you're much more likely to run into students and student life in general. It's much more difficult to feel "alone" in San Francisco than it is in LA, just because you can walk a few kilometers and you'll be in the of somewhere, able to do something.

    With all that being said, I am obviously biased, so take from that what you will. Also, student life in general isn't exactly conducive to anything outside of that sphere. You'll spend the majority of your time in classes, studying, doing homework/papers, in labs, spending time with other students, etc. In terms of education I'm guessing they'll be relatively equal, given both are CSU's and neither has a reputation for being an academic shithole. College life is largely about the friends you make, the educational experience, and the activities you do between the two. Very little of it has to do with spending your Saturday at the beach/the club or walking in the Gay Pride parade. Although of the two, the latter is much more accessible and, frankly, much more fun. Really, that's the best illustration I can give of the two cities. In LA, you go somewhere. In San Francisco, you do something.

    Inquisitor77 on
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    baudattitudebaudattitude Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Los Angeles's public transportation system is pretty awful. It's fine if you want to do irvine to downtown, for instance, or some other commuter route, but I wouldn't try doing the tourist thing on it.

    Also SF is a little more mellow, friendly place. LA can be pretty unforgiving. I lived there for five years and my "welcome to LA!" moment was having people steal stuff from the moving van while the movers weren't looking.

    That being said, it is a very cool place to do the tourist thing and you should try to talk one of your classmates in SF into driving down with you and gawking at stuff.

    Edit: Christ, ignore all this and just read Inquisitioner's post. I feel shamed to come after it.

    baudattitude on
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    SwashbucklerXXSwashbucklerXX Swashbucklin' Canuck Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I'm a native Californian, and I approve of Inquisitioner's post. SanFran would be a lot more fun to study in as an international student. Take a trip to LA to do the tourist thing while you're there.

    SwashbucklerXX on
    Want to find me on a gaming service? I'm SwashbucklerXX everywhere.
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    Houk the NamebringerHouk the Namebringer Nipples The EchidnaRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    thirding/fourthing the stay in SF. unless you absolutely need warm weather, SF is an all-around better spot for you, id say

    Houk the Namebringer on
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    wallabeeXwallabeeX Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Currently live and work in LA / Venice Beach.

    I have no knowledge of CSU LA but from the looks of it there's an express busway from that to downtown, which puts you 20 minutes from a large part of LA accessible by it's subway (it exists, it's not bad). That means Hollywood is very accessible, as well as scenic south central / Compton and Long Beach. That said, there's no reasonable way to get to the ocean from CSU LA without taking a lengthy bus ride - they're hoping to have something up in 2011 which'll take you to Santa Monica, but that's a long battle.

    Personally, I live here, and I wouldn't think twice about it. SF.

    wallabeeX on
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    Hocky27Hocky27 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Thanks for all the comments guys. SF wins by unanimous decision. Just a question or two more.

    Whats the weather like from Jan-Jul ? I know it will be winter over there for the first month or two but being from Aus I'm sure the winters are very very different. Also, is SF an expensive city to live in ?

    Hocky27 on
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    HerkimerHerkimer Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Hocky27 wrote: »
    Thanks for all the comments guys. SF wins by unanimous decision. Just a question or two more.

    Whats the weather like from Jan-Jul ? I know it will be winter over there for the first month or two but being from Aus I'm sure the winters are very very different. Also, is SF an expensive city to live in ?

    It'll be pretty nice. I'm in Oakland, across the bay, and it's 70 F and sunny right now. In SF proper it'll be a little colder, generally, and it'll be rainy for the first few months you're there. Here are the averages I can find:
    January Avg High 58.0 °F Avg Low 46.0 °F
    February High 61.0 °F Low 49.0 °F
    March High 62.0 °F Low 49.0 °F
    April High 65.0 °F Low 50.0 °F
    May High 65.0 °F Low 51.0 °F
    June High 68.0 °F Low 53.0 °F
    July High 68.0 °F Low 54.0 °F

    As far as cost, yeah, SF is pretty fucking expensive. Much cheaper if you can live across in the East Bay and commute.

    Herkimer on
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    LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Hocky27 wrote: »
    Thanks for all the comments guys. SF wins by unanimous decision. Just a question or two more.

    Whats the weather like from Jan-Jul ? I know it will be winter over there for the first month or two but being from Aus I'm sure the winters are very very different. Also, is SF an expensive city to live in ?

    I did an international exchange with UC Davis from the UK, and I now live Bay Area-ish permanently, so I wholeheartedly support your coming here. You'll love it, and you might even want to stay forever :)

    SF gets colder than you think it might do; bring jumpers and trousers. It gets colder as the summer comes due to the fog rolling in, so take that into consideration :)

    SF is decently expensive. SF State is in a nice area. Talk to the International office there, they will know what to do. Sometimes they have housing allotted in residence halls they can put international students in.

    Lewisham on
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    Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Actually, the cost of living in SF is roughly the same as in Australia. Stuff in Oz is anywhere from 50% to 200% higher in nominal cost, and with the exchange rate at very close to 1:1, it will seem like life in the USA is dirt cheap. This is especially true given most of your $$$ will be spent on food, books, clothing, and of course, alcohol. All of those things are much cheaper in the United States. For example, a $30 paperback in Australia is $8, and that's only if you bother to buy it brand new. Yeah, you guys read that right. $30 paperback. Anyway, SF is obviously more expensive than the rest of the United States, but on the whole give you're a student doing student stuff, and you'll be used to Ozzie money with Ozzie prices, you won't feel much sticker shock.

    Inquisitor77 on
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    vaultdweller0013vaultdweller0013 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    If you are not dead set on LA or San Francisco, San Diego could be an option. I'm only bringing it up because, despite being a large city (it is larger than the city of SF proper), SD tends to get forgotten when thinking of California due to its proximity to LA.

    Public transit is hit or miss in SD, with miss being more common. However, if you are at SDSU, there is a trolley stop right at the campus, so your access could be OK. However, I must admit that my knowledge of public transit in SD is limited. I have used it occasionally, but since I have a car, it is almost always quicker to drive.

    There is a good amount of things to see and do in SD itself, plus it is only a 2 hour train ride from LA, but then you get to deal with the public transit (or lack thereof) in LA.

    vaultdweller0013 on
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    kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Contrary to everyone's comments LA would be fine, but not for Cal State LA, which is in east los angeles, is shitty, and not fun.

    kaliyama on
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    travathiantravathian Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Actually, the cost of living in SF is roughly the same as in Australia. Stuff in Oz is anywhere from 50% to 200% higher in nominal cost, and with the exchange rate at very close to 1:1, it will seem like life in the USA is dirt cheap.

    This is depressing because I want to do a 3mo rotation in Oz and the only thing holding me back is raising enough funds.

    travathian on
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