I am Costa Rican and had lived there all my life. My family and friends were there, and I was very happy there.
As life is wont to do, I met Rick (a US Citizen) and we fell in love. About 15 years ago, we finally got married. Discussing our future, we agreed it would be better for me to move to the US than for him to move to Costa Rica. He had a good job and a house, while I had just finished medical school and still lived with my parents. It made sense to proceed this way.
So, we moved to San Francisco. San Francisco is a great city. I like the diversity you can find in such a small area, many people from many places live here and I’m one of them. We like that during the winter we are a short drive away from winter sports in Tahoe and during the summer we are also close to great campgrounds.
Having Rick with me was a big help. It was very comforting to have a guiding hand showing me the way things worked in this new place. I had visited SF before as a tourist, and it was very different from actually living there.
Even with my husband’s support though, the first two years were very difficult for me. I come from a very close-knit family and knew I would miss them when I moved to the US. It turned out I missed my family and friends more than I ever expected. Furthermore, it was not possible for me to practice medicine as well, which made things harder. I now know it got so bad that I fell into a depressive state that was hard to overcome.
Eventually things started getting better and I started becoming more comfortable with my life in San Francisco. I found a job as a research assistant for a breast cancer study. It was not my dream job at that time, and was a position I was overqualified for, but it gave me a purpose and helped me get out of that fog that had kept me down for so long. I still have that job; it’s been good for me and our family.
While I still miss my family and friends, the absence does not have such a strong effect on my life. I do get to visit Costa Rica regularly, and my family visits me often. As well, I have a daughter now and since having her I have experienced a whole new side to this city. We like spending time in the parks, playgrounds, pools, museums, etc. There are so many activities and resources in this city geared to families with children. We don’t know what the future will bring but at this time we like the idea of raising our daughter here in SF.
I feel that those first two difficult years in SF were a part of my mourning process to say goodbye to the life I once had and to the person I was back home. I still miss my previous life but have learned to love and enjoy the life I’ve created here.
There is an expat community in the Bay Area, I found it through Facebook a few years ago. They organize some community events a couple times a year; I’ve participated a couple times but have not gotten very involved. I wish I had found them before, when I first came to San Francisco, but social media was not as common back then. For people relocating now, social media is a great resource.