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J1 USA Visa - Welcome to San Francisco

Set on a beautiful bay, San Francisco is a charming city with a laid back ambience. Often called "Everybody's Favourite City" San Francisco is famous for its hilly streets, cable cars and beautifully preserved Victorian houses.

Its unique tourist attractions include the world renowned Fisherman's Wharf area, Union Square, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the largest Chinatown in the USA. Visit North Beach and enjoy the bustle of the city in the Italian quarter where there is an array of restaurants. The city offers great shopping, an abundance of ethnic and sophisticated cuisine and a wide variety of fashionable bars, jazz and blues clubs.

From amazing views and a sea of sea lions to chowder bread bowls and California wines, your visit to San Francisco starts at PIER 39. Kick off your visit by exploring two levels of dining, entertainment, shopping and attractions, all surrounded by unbeatable views of the city and the bay. Take it from the world famous sea lions: a visit to San Francisco starts at The PIER.

General Information

Climate: The weather in San Francisco is cool to mild throughout the year, with foggy summers and wet winters. The cold currents of the Pacific Ocean surrounding the city, which in conflict with the California mainland summer heat creates foggy conditions that blanket the city during summer and early autumn, influence the climate. This ensures summers in San Francisco are cooler than inland California.

Transport: The public transport system in San Francisco is known as MUNI and operates buses, electric trolley buses and the famous cable cars as well as metro streetcars (underground trains that become street cars when they emerge above ground). MUNI is sometimes late and crowded. Driving is extremely difficult, due to traffic, an unconventional street layout, impossible parking and, of course, very steep streets. MUNI offers access to all parts of the city; exact change is required, and the same fare applies to all services except the cable cars, which are more expensive (but well worth at least one ride - the Powell-Hyde route is the most scenic). MUNI trains and buses run 24 hours a day, with a more limited service after midnight; buses late at night are not always safe to use. The other transport system, known as BART, is a fast and economical subway/rail network that connects the city to the East Bay as well as the airport. Taxis are also available in the city but can be hard to find, especially during peak hours. During the day, perhaps the best option is to walk; lots of locals do. However, be prepared to climb a few hills. By air: San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is located 13 miles (21 km) south of the city.

Jobs & Accommodation

One of the best ways to search for a job in San Francisco is on the Internet and by checking out local newspapers. Don’t panic if you don’t get a job within the first week. It can take time so stay calm and remember to be persistent. Don’t be afraid to make follow up calls on your job applications. Finding housing can often be as challenging as finding a job. To find out what online newspapers are available in the area try searching: YAHOO's US Newspaper Listings. For SanFrancisco it is a good idea to live anywhere that is on the MUNI or BART lines.

You can email Berkeley College to obtain Summer Sublet listings.
Email: [email protected]

Check out the following websites for San Francisco accommodation listings:

For Jobs in San Francisco:

The Restaurants, cafés , shops, Stores and Bars on Pier 39 on the San Francisco bay would also have seasonal work available in the summer months. This is a popular Tourist spot, check out: www.pier39.com

Things to do & see

Chinatown: The largest Chinatown outside of Asia, San Francisco's Chinatown is a great place for some cheap souvenirs and great food among many other things. You can even see how fortune cookies are made.

Visit Alcatraz: Alcatraz Island offers a close-up look at the site of the first lighthouse and US built fort on the West Coast, the infamous federal penitentiary long off-limits to the public, and the 18 month occupation by Indians of All Tribes which saved the tribes. Rich in history, there is also a natural side to the Rock—gardens, tide pools, bird colonies, and bay views beyond compare. Only one tour company operates to the Island and included in your $26 entrance fee is your ferry ride to and from and a free audio guide, which was narrated by former inmates and prison guards and was very easy to use.
TIP: We recommend you book your Alcatraz tour at least 2 or 3 days ahead of time as tours sell out quickly.

Ride a cable car: The cable cars in San Francisco cost $6 for a one way trip but if you have a San Francisco CityPASS you can ride them as often as you want. There are only 3 trolley lines with the most popular being the one that operates between Powell and Hyde street. Line ups form all day long at the starting points on either end of the line so be prepared to wait if you want to ride one.

Special Events during the Summer

Carnaval – May: Every Memorial Day weekend, the Mission District hosts San Francisco’s version of the Mardi Gras celebrations with music and dancing, food and craft stalls, contests, street performers, and a parade with lavish floats, marching bands and colourful costumes. The Grand Parade is an exotic celebration of different traditions and cultures from around the world, with floats and dancers depicting vibrant multi-cultural themes, from samba and Chinese Lion dancers, to African drummers, and accompanied by the hip-swinging music of Latin America, Brazil, and the Caribbean. Website: http://www.carnavalsf.com

San Francisco Pride Parade and Celebration – June: As the world’s most gay-friendly city, San Francisco celebrates gay and lesbian pride with a festive procession and numerous music stages. The parade features hundreds of themed marchers and floats, after which thousands of people from every walk of life gather at the Civic Center to carry on the party in front of one of the many music stages. The area is lined with stalls selling everything from food and drink to crafts and souvenirs. Venue: Market Street, from Embarcadero to the Civic Center; Website: http://www.sfpride.org

North Beach Precious Cheese Festival – June Every year 'Little Italy' celebrates San Francisco's oldest street festival with arts and crafts, a pizza toss competition, local delicacies, Italian street chalk art, cooking demonstrations and cheese carving. The weekend kicks off with the Animal Blessing at the national Shrine of St Francis, and entertainment includes live jazz, rock, blues, salsa and swing music in a salutation to the Italian and Beat Generation history of the neighbourhood. Venue: North Beach District; main stage in Washington Park; Website: http://sfnorthbeach.org/NBFestival/

Monterey Jazz Festival – September The Monterey Jazz Festival is one of the oldest and most famous annual jazz festivals in the world. Throughout the decades, some of the greatest names in jazz have played including Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, McCoy Tyner and Oscar Peterson. The main focus of the festival is jazz education with several workshops held over the weekend.
Website: http://www.montereyjazzfestival.org/2012/

For more information on San Francisco :

The above tips provided by Go4Less are intended as a guide only. Go4Less accepts no responsibility for any jobs or housing accepted by students through these resources.