Massive hills, windy streets (in both sense of the word), and palm trees (non-native).
The Bay Area is arguably an awesome place to be a graduate student. In this article, two former Bay Area students share their thoughts on their graduate experience. Cynthia Oei is in the process of obtaining her PsyD from the California Institute of Integral Studies, and Trevor Graham received his PsyD at The Wright Institute.
Why did you decide to attend graduate school in San Francisco?
Both Oei and Graham were already San Francisco residents, and reluctant to leave. “I was living in San Francisco at the time and the school I was interested in happened to be there, so it turned out to be really convenient since I did not want to relocate,” Oei explains. Graham was also a resident, and has high praise for the Bay’s resources, particularly in his discipline: “I wanted to remain in the Bay Area. I have always had the goal of never sacrificing (if at all possible) where I live/quality of life for work or school, so I began searching for schools in the area that would fit my educational and practice goals. I felt extremely lucky in that the Bay Area had a number of excellent programs to choose from.”
What were the benefits of attending grad school there?
While living there, Oei took advantage of all that San Francisco had to offer. “San Francisco is a fun, beautiful city that offers so much in regard to exploring whatever you want,” says Oei. “Plus, I lived near Golden Gate Park and the ocean so I got my nature fix too.” As a psychologist in training, Graham appreciated the range of career-specific options: “the Bay Area has an enormous amount of diversity and a very rich network of training/internship programs. It is one of the few places in the country where a student could pretty much gain experience working with any client population they desired.”
What were the drawbacks?
Oei, not such a city person, didn’t enjoy “the concrete and the fast pace.” Graham found the cost of living, well, costly. “The cost of living in the Bay Area is quite high, so most students in the area will feel a rather significant financial stress, which is manageable, but definitely something to consider,” he says. In other words – regardless of its fabulous (and famous) benefits, living in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley or any of the other Bay hotspots come with the inevitable drawbacks of any major city. Country mice may wish to relocate.
Name one or two things about the city that non-residents may not know and might find surprising.
Graham was surprised by – and welcomed – the area’s community feel. “It is not uncommon to run into people on a regular basis in the Bay Area, so you can really feel a sense of connection to the area and the people,” he says. Oei had some great local secrets to share, including “bison in Golden Gate Park, The Academy of Sciences opening Thursday nights, and the best bakery and ice cream right next to one another (Tartine and BiRite).” With study break destinations like these, how could you consider graduate school anywhere else?
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