“You really must like the united States” said the immigration officer as he stared at his computer screen to review my data. I said ‘yes’, smiled and tried to look relaxed. And it’s true, for the past few years the United States are country I visited most frequently. I was on my way to San Francisco, which is the third time within a year that I am coming here. I’m not a particularly anxious person, but those US immigration officers always make me nervous. It’s because I had to go through additional questioning at immigration already twice in the past. And those interviews make you feel like an illegal immigrant trying to sneak across the border. My frequent visits and complex itineraries seem to raise suspicion. So, when this officer took what felt five minutes to review my data on his computer, I was nervous and concerned that I’ll get the special treatment for a third time. But eventually he let me go and I was relieved.
A few hours later, I arrived in San Francisco where I had a busy week ahead of me, visiting friends and hanging out in cafés all day. I love spending extended periods of time in a café with my laptop. It’s one of the things that I miss the most in Costa Rica. There doesn’t seem to be much in of a coffee-culture there, which is surprising considering that Costa Rica is one of the main producers of coffee beans. There is not even Starbucks (although they seem to have every single other US fast food chain).
The main purpose of stopping by San Francisco on my way to Germany, however, was to visit friends. I have been staying at Binh’s place so many times that by now even his (inofficial) roommate (Gang like in ‘gangbang’) remembers me and asks about my travels. Binh took me for some delicious oysters. Another thing I missed in Costa Rica: a large variety of amazing restaurants. Since my last visit my German friend Olli moved from a remote location in the hills of North-Berkeley (where he was living with some deer) to San Francisco. I was able to connect him to Binh, Tom & Luke and hope this wasn’t a bad idea. They know plenty different embarrassing stories involving me, that they could swap. My reputation is at stake! In Dolores park I also met Josh again, who is a friend of my Costa Rican roommate. He is an entrepreneur and we talked about our experiences of starting our own thing. It’s always nice to know, I am not the only one who is having a challenging time with this.
Kevin and me went to cinema as always, though this time I wished we had seen a better movie than ‘Paranormal Activity 3′. The last night, I spent at Rebecca’s place who relocated here from Tennessee last year and is now living with her boyfriend Nikita in Oakland. He studied biochemistry and is now developing apps – among others – for educational purposes. He had an interesting view about the future of education. He said, in the close future books get less and less important while mobile devices such as the iPad will take an important role in teaching students. Perhaps it wasn’t just his view. The entire bay area in California is heavily influenced by technology and anything ‘Apple’. (Only in San Francisco did I found myself having to justify why I chose to use an Android rather than an iPhone. After all, only ugly people use Android.) I can totally see the advantages of a tablet device for teaching. It’s so much lighter than books, there is interactivity, videos and sound can be embedded etc. Still, I am questioning if the tablets really are the last nail in the coffin of books. Books are durable, they don’t need power and above all, they have no compatibility issues. You can still read a 100 year old book. But as for tablets, the standards change constantly, like the higher resolution screen of the new iPad, which gives app developers headaches. Apps require constant rewrites and updates to keep up with the new standards, security issues and so on. I don’t know how much money there is in scientific literature but printing a book that you can keep forever without worries of compatibility just seems so much easier and cheaper. I guess time will tell.
My last night in Oakland also had a little surprise for me. I got so see a medical cannabis card. Like a driving license is the legal permit for you to drive, this card legally allows you to smoke weed in the state of California. For medical purposes. Of course.
I find the ‘Wellness Counselling’ particularly hilarious. More info on medical marijuana can be found at the California Department of Public Health