First of all, I would like to congratulate you on making it out to this heathen city. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time and have some interesting stories to avoid telling your parents when you get back.
As you may have noticed already, San Francisco is not like the place you are from. Not only is it anywhere from 8-20x more expensive, but there is a very palpable cultural difference that reflects itself in everything from who people cheer for on Election Night to the kinds of music you won’t find on the radio station to the way people conceive the vast expanse in the middle of the United States.
Let’s begin with a few tidbits of information that will help make your time here as pleasant as possible.
1. Geography: Many San Franciscans have forgotten about the Midwest entirely, and are only reminded of it every four years when they watch most of it turn an accusing color of red and they boo. This is not a positive connotation. The red, for them, will stand for anger, ignorance, and obesity, three words that start with vowels. Some may even express fear at visiting the place you call home, as if the moment they stepped there, they would be accosted and forced to listen to country music and believe in Jesus. Do not tell them that this is true. Avoid getting defensive, and merely laugh along with their bigotry. Then, make a note and send it back to your prayer circle to get something moving on the cosmic justice front.
2. Coffee: Be very careful of where you purchase your brown brew. Learn to identify the words “hand-crafted” or “hand-made” with “expensive” and “slow” and sometimes “too strong.” Be prepared to pay up to $4 for a brewed coffee that would have cost $1 at McDonald’s. If you’re not a true aficionado, it won’t be worth the money or the wait. Don’t feel bad about it. Just embrace who you really are and look up the nearest fast food restaurant on your smartphone. Do not ask a stranger.
3. Naked Flesh: Many/Most San Franciscans are horrifyingly more sex-positive than the average Midwesterner and lack a natural and healthy body shame. To make the matter more interesting, public nudity is lawful in some areas of the city (maybe all of it). It is possible, depending on your luck and the weather, that you will see nude flesh of varying quality as you mind your own business in the city, especially in an area known as the Castro. If this happens, don’t stare, don’t gawk, and don’t take pictures, weirdo. Just walk on by. If you’re with someone else who doesn’t see the nude flesh, do them a favor and don’t tell them about it. Let them live in peaceful oblivion and innocence.
4. Dogs: San Franciscans love their animals. In many cases, the animals are their children and they are treated as such. You will see an astounding array of fresh pet food stores, dogs wearing various clothing items and political buttons, and people taking their dogs out to eat with them at restaurants that encourage this sort of behavior. You can use this to your advantage by making it a conversation starter, “Do you have a pet? How much money do you spend on it, per year? Is that more than the money you give to charity?” And so on.
I hope this was a good introduction to the subject of Midwesterner travel in San Francisco. The topic may or may not be continued. It’s not really any of your business.