Name, job, part of the San Francisco Bay Area you live in
Sandy Handler, Music Teacher and Freelance Writer, Pacifica
When did you first come to the Bay and what’s the backstory there?
I moved from Australia to London in my early 20’s. After a decade I’d had enough of bleak British weather and decided to move back to Australia, but via San Francisco for a six week holiday first. This was in 1999. Well, two weeks into my SF stopover, I met my husband. We married a couple of years later and I planted roots deep enough to keep me here for 18 years and counting.
Hardest thing about moving here?
Giving up Brisbane’s year-long warm weather
Favorite Bay Area memory to date?
Back in my first year in SF, I had a wonderful summer afternoon on a charter yacht on the bay. That memory sticks out because the sight of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the city skyline and a perfect warm, cloudless day was so impressive. I realized I felt strangely at home in a place that was foreign to me.
What impact has being Australian had on your life here? In dating? In work?
I’ve always liked sticking out a little (I’m a redhead, we naturally stick out) so having an Aussie accent has been great. People seem to notice straight away. I think we can use our differences to further our positions, career-wise, or in our social life. So yep, being Australian here has only been an advantage!
Most American thing you’ve experienced in your time here?
The obvious answer is probably Independence Day, because there’s a stars and stripes image everywhere you turn, from t-shirts to cakes, to garden flags. But, I’m going to say a baseball game. That’s where you find all the stereotypes. The fans in jerseys, the anthem before it starts, kids with baseball gloves, the hotdogs with ketchup, mustard and sauerkraut, the Cracker Jack, the songs, the people keeping statistics. It’s all good American fun.
Best advice for anyone who is thinking of coming over?
If coming to the SF Bay Area, lose all preconceived ideas about American people. This place is so multicultural, you’re going to meet people from all over the globe with different perspectives on life.
Plus, this is a country of extremes, you’ll experience sweltering summers in the same place as bitter winters, meet a super intelligent person at the same party as someone with very little education, see a gun shop next door to a yoga studio (or is that just in Pacifica?) and find a Michelin star restaurant with homeless people sleeping on the doorstep.
Try not to judge on first appearances, because the extremes are here but everything in between is too. I guess I’m trying to say keep an open mind, and if there’s something not to your taste, just turn the corner and you’re bound to find something that is.
Any additional thoughts?
After 18 years I still have my Aussie accent. In fact, I cultivate it a little every time I go home. It’s a part of my identity I don’t want to lose!