Actually, I've been back for three weeks already and while I meant to write this post as soon as I got back, I just never got around to it. Too busy partying.
And that's the biggest thing I've noticed, it's so much easier to party here than it is in the Bay Area. And people actually do. A lot!
Perhaps an artefact of living on the Peninsula instead of up in the city, but when you need to take a train to the city for an hour, then spend another half hour getting to the party, it really takes the steam out of any plans.
It doesn't help that California doesn't even make the trip worth it. By 3am everything closes. Can't serve alcohol after 2am and all that. The only positive I could find is that usually you don't have to spend all of next day in bed.
But then again, if you aren't from the city, the last train back is at midnight. After that your only options are a sketchy bus or a $100 cab ride.
Unlike Ljubljana where public transit runs all night at least partially and a cab to pretty much anywhere you care about (because you can afford to live in not-suburbia) is about 5 euro.
More importantly, even normal bars stay open until 2am on weekends (Thursday+). Clubs run wild until 6am. Hell, even some coffee shops turn into bars around 9pm.
Sure, places might not be as packed as they are in San Francisco, but at least they're there!
The partying culture here is perfect for a night owl. You can keep working until 11pm or midnight, then get ready and be at a club by 1am. Just when the party really starts.
Once you do manage to get out, Ljubljana is simply a better party place.
Again, less people, so less options. But wherever you go, the men to women ratio is better. Clubs and bars are awash in girls. It's not uncommon to go into the middle of the dance floor and be surrounded by girls three humans deep.
In SF, there are usually three to five lonely girls dancing in the dance floor and the rest are guys. It's very rare to see a group of more than two girls without a guy with them. Here, I've seen groups of as many as six people comprised of just girls.
And! they're much much more attractive on average. It could just be my European genes predisposing me to favouring Europeans, but as soon as I touched down in Europe three weeks ago I almost broke my neck. Head kept spinning round and round like I hadn't seen a female in ten years.
More importantly, people are varied.
When you travel to SF as a geek you're super excited about going into an atmosphere that's perfect for geeks and nerds. You will be surrounded by like-minded people, you will overhear conversations about scaling and redis and balancing and map reduce on the train and in coffee shops and on the street and just about everywhere.
But bloody hell does it get old. So old.
EVERYONE in SF is either working for a startup, is thinking about starting a startup, is in tech, or is in something that supports tech. It's terrible.
You talk to a person and you're like "Oh hey this is great, this person isn't a programmer. They don't do tech! Yes!" ... wellp, they're a community manager at a startup. Or an office manager.
Or you talk to a random person serving your coffee and they're working on a startup on the side. Or something along those lines.
How ever much I love startups and technology. I have been breathing computers for the last 17 years of my life. Can we please talk about something else? Pretty please?
Even artists in SF talk about metrics and measuring visitor responses to their art to guide them in decision making processes. Blech.
Ljubljana ... yes we have a thriving startup ecosystem. It's been growing rapidly the past few years. It's amazing. But people, even startup people, know how to talk about things other than work work.
First week back, I thought everyone here hated me.
In the street, nobody smiles. Shopkeeps and bartenders don't put up a smile. They don't ask how you are. And they most certainly don't talk to you in an upbeat voice.
A downtrodden monotone is more common. No matter how cheerful or upbeat you talk to them, it's just going to weird them out. Better not to even try.
And nobody is going to wish you a nice day unless something very special happens. They're barely going to say "Good bye" before starting on the next customer in line.
But once you start actually talking to people, things change. They're more open. They talk to you. Instead of putting up a facade of "I am great. Everything is awesome. Life has never been better.", they'll tell you about how taxes are raping them, how much of an asshole their boss is, and that while things are actually pretty crappy, they're still doing fine.
Okay, maybe it's a facade of complaints, but it feels more genuine. Perhaps because I'm from Slovenia and I have been conditioned to view optimism with a heavy dose of scepticism.
Still, even just acquaintances and people you haven't seen in a while, are just more ... genuine I guess. In the US, even after you talk to a person every day for months, they will never truly open up to you.
Unless you were practically born together, don't expect to find any true friends across the pond. It's kinda sad really.
But Slovenians do still find it weird when you hug hello. I've resorted to only doing that with girls. They seem less weirded out by it.
I could go on and on about all the subtle and not so subtle differences between Ljubljana and Silicon Valley.
The coffee shop culture, the way everyone here complains about the economy, how much better our roads are, how far away everything is in California, how unwilling to travel even short distances Slovenians are, but this post is long enough.
Let's just say that the weather is much better over there, at least in winter, and that Slovenia has very far to go in terms of customer service, and that next time I go back across the pond I most definitely have to live in the city.
Suburbia is easily the worst torture method ever conceived. I'm glad Slovenia makes it so affordable to live in the city.
I write articles with real insight into the career and skills of a modern software engineer. "Raw and honest from the heart!" as one reader described them. Fueled by lessons learned over 20 years of building production code for side-projects, small businesses, and hyper growth startups. Both successful and not.
Subscribe below 👇
Join Swizec's Newsletter and get insightful emails 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career. Real lessons from building production software. No bullshit.
"Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only newsletter I open and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"
Senior Mindset Book
Get promoted, earn a bigger salary, work for top companiesLearn more
Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.
Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.
Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.
Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev
Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization
Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog
By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️