I’ve been in the city since January 13, so about four weeks (almost a month, wow). And when I say in the city, I mean in the city. My housing is in Nob Hill, up a very steep California Street. The space where I have my “classes” is in the heart of the Financial District, right at Market Street, and within walking distance of just about everything I could ever want or need while in San Francisco. My everyday looks something like this:
7:30 am: Wake Up
8:15-8:25 am: Order breakfast on the Ritual app and leave my room
8:35-8:45 am: Pickup breakfast on my way finish my commute to the Techspace
9:00 am: Session begins! Start the day with some group activity
10:00 am-12:00 pm: Here, things vary. Monday and Wednesday I have English class with Dr. Shireen Campbell. ENG 296: Science Fiction and Technology looks at the formation and evolution of the genre in tandem with reflections on ethics in the tech industry. Two groups meet for an hour each. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, we start coding at 10.
12:00-1:00 pm: Lunch! Order from a local SF restaurant on the Ritual app
1:00-5:00 pm: Mostly, we’re coding. Sometimes, our instructor, Jesse Farmer, will have breakout sessions for us to work on specific cases. Other times, we’re in groups preparing projects for presentations on Fridays. Typically once a week, we have a speaker come in or we go for a company tour at one of the countless tech companies around us. Examples include Entangled Group, Remind, and Twitch.
There have been so many things to adjust to. Not only is there a three hour time difference between me and everyone I know on the east coast, there’s also the climate of Silicon Valley to adjust to. Yes, the weather is different, but people also carry themselves differently here than what I am used to. The Davidson in Silicon Valley program is designed to not only teach computer science and coding skills, but offer an in depth look into the technology industry through a lived experience in the heart of it all. The career development skills I have been obtaining, in partnership with the Center for Career Development, are helping me become more secure in my career options and explore fields I didn’t know existed, or were available to someone like me. I also get the amazing advantage of using Davidson’s resources while abroad and continue to build upon the academic and nonacademic work I did on campus.
But there is a flip side. San Francisco, for all its glitz and glory, has some of the most egregious socio-economic disparities I have ever witnessed in my life. Not only is the homeless and housing crisis of California seen on every corner in the city, the issues of mass gentrification to make space for these tech companies and the exploitation of lower and middle class San Franciscans as a labor force are rampant throughout the city and the Bay Area. As someone who can relate to and cares deeply about these problems, walking in Union Square past Gucci and Louis V gets real old, real fast.
At the end of the day, the experience thus far has been bittersweet. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that I don’t regret taking at all. It’s also characterized by exacerbated generational problems that I can’t possibly begin to fix on my own. If nothing else, I can use the skills I learn this semester and that good ole liberal arts framework to think and work towards solutions in the future.
Post by student Jaelyn Z. Taylor ’22