Jamie Henson

Enter: The Bransion

September 28th, 2014

Today marks a month of living in San Francisco, the transition from nervously waiting in Heathrow Terminal 3 for the first of the other SVIP members to arrive, to sitting on my bed with a cold (intriguingly 50¢ a can) beer, looking out of my bedroom window that offers a spectacular view of eastern SF and the Bay. A lot of goings-on are framed in this one scene - the perpetually busy Bay Bridge, the looming towers of SoMa and Market, and the heavily Latin-influenced Mission District. It really puts home that this is a city with a lot about it, that if you were to more closely examine any part of what’s in view then you’d find something new. Many major cities have this potential I suppose, but it’s rare that you’re able to realise it so completely from such a macroscopic viewpoint. I liked my old house in Bristol, but my room overlooked a trainline.

Some things I’ve learned this month: Google deliver groceries, people aren’t lying when they say that Comcast are rubbish, Venmo is the future, it is indeed possible to get English tea easily, and that one should be very wary of Folsom Street on one particular weekend in September. Only one of the above discoveries involves four blocks of leather-clad men whipping each other and enthusiastically sampling each other’s fleshy parts. A further hint, it’s not part of Google’s delivery service.

Last weekend we left the StartupHouse, a “hacker house” (in reality an industrial complex converted into a ~50-person communal living space) in the heart of SoMa. On a temporary basis, the place was fine - the lack of any private space or room for personal possessions wore thin after a time but long-term living was never its intended function. The tradeoff to compromised living standards (most notably, the orchestra of nightly snoring) was the advantage that communal living provides - an ever-shifting set of relatively like minded people from all over the world. I even saw a talk there by the CEO of Unity, which was both unexpected, and seriously cool.

After scoring lucky on Craigslist (wait until you read the whole sentence before you infer things from that), and tremendous support from SVIP itself, we managed to bag a house for five that was so big, we were able to get a sixth guy in just to fill the place. SF’s housing market is brutal, and since we wanted to keep our large group together, our pickings were on the order of fingers on one hand. SVIP provided a loan for the hefty deposit, and essentially enabled us to get the place we wanted - it realistically wouldn’t have been possible without them. It’s that level of support that makes me seriously thankful for the opportunity that has come my way.

Moving to the present, work is still tough but it’s a learning process. With every day comes a new area to learn about, in a way that is significantly more accelerated and less incubated than a University environment as the changes I make affect real people in real time, and there’s no quantified marking scheme. I still maintain that University is more beneficial in preparing you to work under punishing time restraints with ever-changing criteria than it is for what it teaches you in a purely academic sense. You can acquire the raw knowledge anywhere, but the opportunity to employ it in a constructive environment, you cannot.

To sum up, it has been an incredible month so far. All of us on the SVIP have built ourselves a platform on which to move forward and encounter new things - it’s rather exciting indeed to consider what things they might be.

Also, I finally bought a guitar, which means that all of my essential home comforts are now fulfilled.