Name, job, part of the Bay you live in
- Lauren Demarte
- Senior Manager, Client Services @ Yelp Eat24
- San Francisco (Mission)
When did you first come to the Bay and what’s the backstory there?
I moved to San Francisco with my fiancé (then boyfriend), Paul, in January 2014. He’s American and was working in Melbourne, which is where we met. He got a great opportunity in SF and I was feeling adventurous at the time, so I came over with him.
What was the hardest thing about moving here?
For me it was leaving family, friends, networks, and 30 years’ worth of a life in one city, Melbourne. It takes a while to build these things back up, and in the meantime it can be frustrating and lonely; a bit like being the new kid at school, except it’s every day, everywhere you go.
Luckily, it wasn’t all difficult (see below).
What was the thing you most enjoyed about the Bay when you first started living here?
San Francisco is such a visually stunning city; I loved that there was something beautiful to see at every turn.
Oh, and being able to eat really wonderful Mexican food whenever I wanted – a serious drawcard!
What impact has being Australian had on your life here? In dating? In work?
If nothing else, being Australian is a great conversation starter – 9 times out of 10 when I meet a new American person, they ask about my accent and then the conversation turns to how much they love Australia, Australians, koalas, etc.
This took some getting used to, particularly when it happened in a business setting – back home it would be considered pretty rude to call out someone’s “otherness” like that. But after 3 years here I get it that the intention is always good – Americans really do find Australia exotic (?!) and want to know everything about it. They adore the accent and want to keep hearing it, so worst-case scenario is you get a positive response to everything you say.
What do you miss the most about home?
- Cheese, salad and beetroot sandwiches on Baker’s Delight white square loaf
- The smell of grass and eucalyptus in summer
- Australian summer in general
- Being able to make self-deprecating jokes without confusing people
- Family and friends, of course
Favorite Bay Area memory to date?
There really are too many to pick just one, so here’s a mash-up of the best ones; walking through Muir Woods on a cool morning, while shucking oysters at (now sadly closed) Drake’s Bay, drinking wine on the hill at Scribe winery, and getting a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time in a few weeks.
Best brunch spot in the Bay?
I don’t love going out to brunch in SF – it’s too much of an ordeal, with the waiting and the lining up and those massive piles of home fries! I like to cook brunch at our place in the Mission; it’s a few doors down from Mission Beach Cafe, so if you ever get sick of the wait there, hit me up and I’ll make you some smashed avocado with Meredith Dairy feta.
One thing from Australia you most want to bring to SF?
My favorite people. That would make everything perfect.
Most American thing you’ve witnessed in your time here?
All the ambition and success in San Francisco; you really can’t get any more American than that.
Biggest thing you’d want to take back to Australia with you?
The California redwoods in Muir Woods
What’s your advice for anyone who is thinking of coming over?
Professional: If you’re not already good at networking and self-marketing, start practicing! Selling yourself is a big part of the professional culture in the US.
Personal: Don’t underestimate it, the homesickness struggle is real – but it comes and goes in waves. Be OK with having a few more emotions than you might be used to, and know that this too shall pass.
Any advice for new arrivals on how to make the most of your time here?
Say “yes” as much as possible – it leads to new adventures, new friends, new job opportunities.
What’s something you’ve gained from your move to the Bay Area?
I’ve been afforded some incredible opportunities in San Francisco, and am really proud of what I’ve achieved professionally in the last few years. Importantly, I’ve also learned how to talk about those successes confidently and easily. Self-promotion isn’t a natural part of Australian culture, but it’s so important – I’m really glad I have it in my arsenal now.