If you're going to San Francisco...

An overview of the first part of my "gap year"

Moving

5 months… It was so short…

What an amazing opportunity: being in San Francisco, living like a californian, meeting so many people with different background, experiencing the american way of working… it was one of the best moments of my life.

I learned so much. First, professionally, on life sciences, marketing, business development and communication. Second, culturally, on the american way of life - how they eat, drink, dress, think or express themselves - on the  californian history and on the fascinating San Franciscan Spirit. And third, personnally, on what I want - and don’t want - who I am and who I would like to be.

And now even if it’s the end of a chapter in my life, it’s also the beginning of another one: I am travelling across the US for one month before settling in Hawaii for a second internship - this time I will be working in a lab on environmental economics. 

As I am still trying to figure out what I want to specialize on for my last year of study, I think that being on the road and, then, working in a completely different area, will help me find out.

So, this is my last post on this blog - I hope you enjoyed it. I will create another one for my adventures in Honolulu!

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Sporty Sunday

Sunday, February 3rd: I woke up at 6am - which is very unusual for a Sunday ^^ - because two games were taking place during the day.

The first one was the France - Italy rugby game for the 6 nations cup and was scheduled at 7 am pacific time. You become really patriotic when you are far away from your country. 

Whatever… I should have stayed in my bed: the game had nothing exceptional and it was frustrating to see our team lose with all its potential. 

The second one was the very famous Super Bowl, which is the american football final. It is a really huge show with more than 100 million spectators, a singer halftime performance - this year it was Beyoncé - and… a lot of commercials (companies have to pay around $4M for 30s). This year it was the Baltimore Ravens VS the San Francisco 49ers, which is why I was so enthusiast (I had already seen them play in Candelstick stadium in SF and it was awesome). But as for the first game, it was so exasperating to watch our players just a few meters away from the scoring zone and then dropping the ball, therefore loosing all hope to win the final… 

Two defeats… a lot to bear on a sunday.

Anyhow, I was glad to experiment the Super Bowl in the US. And it was a good pretext to be with all my friends, eating crepes.

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Gun Laws

Last week I went to a conference on this topic (organized by the Commonwealth Club), and it was the occasion for me to try to understand why it is such a big issue in the US. So here is what I learnt and some of my thoughts.

First of all, it is important to understand why Americans have a permission to carry guns. It is one of their fundamental rights as it is inscribed in the 2nd amendment of the United States Bill of Rights. A little historic insight: when the text was first written, America was a wild country with a lot of dangers as bears, wolves or natives who wanted to fight to keep their land free of the “pale faces”. Moreover, the pioneers were a mix of people who had left their European country for a lot of reasons but one of them was because they wanted to build something new. They didn’t like the idea of creating a government because they wanted to stay free, to realize their dreams without an authority that would tell them what to do but in the meantime as the population was growing they had to get organized. When they finally agreed to build a government, they wanted to keep their destiny in hand, to be able to rebel against it if something turned badly. They didn’t blindly trust it. This is one of the main reasons, along with the fact that the lands were wild, why they wrote the 2nd amendment, why they wanted to carry guns. And as a constitutional text, it is still in application today.

Now, you would think that, as the context is not quite the same, Americans would be eager to change their mind. But it’s not that easy. People want to be safe and for them, carrying a gun is the best way to be responsible for their own safety – they still don’t totally rely on their government.

But what happened in Newtown – Connecticut – a few weeks ago, shook so deeply the US that now some Americans are asking themselves: is this the solution? If I want to be safer, is it good to have all my neighbors armed? Plus, as Mrs Nancy Skinner said during the conference, “here, it is easier to buy bullets than cigarettes or alcohol”. This was one of the crucial issues raised during the event. Therefore two critical steps were suggested: to have background checks and to register when someone wants to buy a gun or bullets. I won’t give all the technical details (10 or 20 round magazines?) because I think it’s not the most important thing.

One of the main difficulties, as for a lot of issues in the US, is that it’s a huge country with a great variety of situations. Therefore, some people could think that the best solution is to adapt the law to each state. The problem is that if one state enforces strict measures on gun registration and its neighbor-states are less strict then some people will go to these surrounding states to buy their arms. And consequently, the new law will be inefficient for the state.

Therefore, most of the speakers agreed that a federal law – as Obama suggested – would be more appropriated and that the main questions that have to be answered by this law should be “how can we control who has access to a gun to ensure more safety and in the meantime to allow people to defend themselves as it is authorized in the constitution?” and “what do we need to protect ourselves (do we need machine guns)?”. The only speaker who stood apart was a member of the NRA (National Rifle Association – 4 million members), a powerful lobby who strongly defends the right to carry guns.

Even if the president’s proposal was a critical first step, with the Senate election coming in two years, it will have difficulties to pass…

It was really interesting to participate at this conference. I realized that the situation was more complex than what I had imagined… 

Some links:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/05/politics/new-congress-gun-legislation/index.html

NRA: http://youtu.be/SZb8EXUrQTo

Obama: http://youtu.be/LXCHYr13QHQ

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barackobama:

“Our journey is not complete.” —President Obama

barackobama:

“Our journey is not complete.” —President Obama

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Obama's Presidential Inauguration

Take the time to watch it.

It’s really interesting if you want to understand how America sees itself and what are the critical issues president Obama will work on - equality (for women, homosexuals, whatever your origins) on all the areas of life (work, mariage, healthcare); economy (it’s a “team work”), safety (gun laws), climate change (environment & energy) etc.

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25 Things I wish I knew before moving to San Francisco

So true!

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Not such a stereotype! ^^
NB: Not a big fan of the In-N-Out Burger, but love the Vibram FiveFingers and the amazingly beautiful 101!

Not such a stereotype! ^^

NB: Not a big fan of the In-N-Out Burger, but love the Vibram FiveFingers and the amazingly beautiful 101!

(via udubseattle)

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theeconomist:

KAL’s cartoon: this week, a query.

theeconomist:

KAL’s cartoon: this week, a query.

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theeconomist:

Tomorrow’s cover today: the troubling similarities between the fiscal mismanagement in Washington and the mess in the euro zone.


Interesting point of view… Will read that.

theeconomist:

Tomorrow’s cover today: the troubling similarities between the fiscal mismanagement in Washington and the mess in the euro zone.

Interesting point of view… Will read that.

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American Lunch.
Organic!

American Lunch.
Organic!

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American Breakfast.
Huge!

American Breakfast.
Huge!

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American Pie at Church St. 
Delicious!

American Pie at Church St.
Delicious!

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As a french, there are some things in the American culture that I don’t understand… I try hard, but on this issue I just can’t understand.
Here, some words of President Obama:
“We know this is a complex issue that stirs deeply held passions and political divides. . . . But the fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing.”

As a french, there are some things in the American culture that I don’t understand… I try hard, but on this issue I just can’t understand.

Here, some words of President Obama:

“We know this is a complex issue that stirs deeply held passions and political divides. . . . But the fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing.”

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theeconomist:
KAL’s cartoon: this week, a parrot.

theeconomist:

KAL’s cartoon: this week, a parrot.

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The chances of an American student completing a four-year degree within six years stand at only around 57%.

—American higher education appears to be in rude health. But the country’s universities represent declining value for money to their students.

(Source: economist.com, via theeconomist)

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