Moving to any new city comes with a various assortment of tasks of acclimation. One task in particular is unique to each city: getting to know your public transport. When, where and in what form do you pay? Where are the zones and in which one do I live/learn/work/shop? How late do the various modes of transportation run?
I will be moving in autumn and become acquainted with the BART. Luckily, I can use the Internet and local friends for help. More advantageous is the fact that the information will all be in English. I have been controlled by Parisian Metro controllers, I've nearly been brought to tears by Zürich tram controllers (my month pass had expired the day before!) and made the mistake of not having change ready only once while riding RIPTA. Now on to the Bay Area.
Accomplishing being transported publicly is not the largest milestone, but it's one of the first. When I was in Paris last April I was made accutely aware of just how integrated I truly am in Zürich. Not only do I know when tram service stop and night bus service begins, I also have preferred "short-cuts" on foot and bike paths (I'm a nervous city cyclist). Beside knowing the VBZ and SBB. I know jokes about their advertising. I know to ask "Ist da noch frei?" on the train and to merely nod my head on the tram, when taking a seat next to someone. I know that if I want to help a person with their pram I need to be fast and throw elbows to beat the other people who are sure to volunteer. I have learned the perfect way to scold youngsters who are letting their Handy's music play too loudly ("must we all suffer from that sound or could you do it alone?").
That's right: I'm integrated! I've got Zürich down pat. It takes me 5 minutes to leave a shop for all the "thank you...have a nice day....same to you....no, thank you.....goodbye....you too....thank you....goodbye"s. I don't get freaked out by the way swiss folk stare. I know by heart the tri-lingual announcement on trains and know how to decode announcements on trams. I feel quite local - that is, until I walk into a drugstore and ask if they have dandruff shampoo made with tar and pine. I will always have been raised in America.
California here I come, right back where I started from. Open up your golden gates......