Wiki: Life in SF, In-Person Course Tips

(Sanyam Bhutani) #1

Key links and info

  • Apply to attend the course
    • Dates: March 17 - May 5 (no class April 21)
    • Schedule: Tuesdays, 6:30-9:00pm
    • Location: Downtown San Francisco
    • Cost: $2,000

Note: Nothing has been announced or decided about a live stream online version.

A little background about my dream and reason for creating this thread:

I’ve recently applied to the next run of the course and as you can imagine, I can’t contain my excitement. My original goal in “life” was to attend a Masters course in the US (this was freshman days of my undergrad) which immediately got replaced with attending just the fast.ai course in-person this year and I was secretly saving for it but when I started my podcast which turned into a full-time role, I happily quit almost all of my contracts (I was freelancing at that point) and ended up investing my savings into the podcast so that caused a little delay in the dream :tea:

Now that I can see the dream on the horizon again, I’m applying again-I’m yet to finalise my trip and also talk about it at my workplace but I started reaching out to a lot of the kind members of the family to get an idea of the expenses, suggestions and things to look out for.

My original idea was to create a good collection of notes and write a blogpost for anyone else that is foreign to SF but I’m considering creating this wiki instead-I hope will be a community sourced collection of tips for Life in SF, Suggestions for taking the course in-person, and other details, I think I could later concatenate it into a post for a month before the post. So if you’re from the Bay Area, please help me create this wiki for our future peers :slight_smile:

My Motivation behind visiting “Bay Area” and a few warnings

I have a few simple goals in mind-apart from the obvious HUGE excitement to take the next version of the course and checkout the framework-that I’d really like to work towards:

  • Meet my Heroes from the course.
  • Attend as many of the amazing meet-ups which I’ve heard many great things about. Hopefully even host a few. See how we can uplift the Indian ML Communities, What is the Delta for us and what are we missing (The small world that exists outside of Silicon Valley) :tea:
  • Meet all of the amazing fast.ai family I’ve got to known from the course and other amazing folks in the Silicon Valley that I’ve got to known via running the Podcast and Interview Series.
  • Absorb The Bay Area knowledge, Come back to my country and create Study Groups that are as good as “The Silicon Valley”
  • Hopefully do more Interviews with the amazing Talent there.

Most Importantly, The dream to visit the Bay Area for me is to come back and help end the dream in my country afterwards as well-create a strong community that’s equally good-the dream is to visit SF once since I’m fortunate enough to be even position to think about it and later ensure that it’s not very attractive to other fast.ai members in India :india:

It’s a very ambitious thing that I just dare knowningly put here publicly, but if anything I’m sure it’s a dream the complete fast.ai Community would like to work towards: Making ML Uncool :slight_smile:

A few warnings:

  • IMHO, taking the online course will also be as beneficial for you as attending it in-person. I’ll be a bad example so instead I’ll name multiple people: @radek, @ramesh, @Even, @jsa169, @Judywawira, @alexandrecc and many more that I’ve known via the forums and a few that have also been kind enough to be on the podcast to prove this, so please don’t feel that it’s absolutely necessary to attend the course in person.
  • The life/travel/course expenses could be invested in a GPU or better things for ex. So please do consider it. I say this after realising that the monthly rents in SF are equivalent to Annual Rents in my hometown (or worse).
  • If you’re worried about missing out on the course by “just” getting the online invite or later as a MOOC -I can assure you based on my experience that the online forums are equally as kind (if they are kinder-I will find out this time).

Okay, with the warnings out of the way, I’ll start creating this creating this sparse guide that I’ll invite all of the amazing folks on here to help populate.

Visas/Legals

This would be important for Non-Americans and Canadians (In my online googling I discovered the border laws are relaxed for Canadian Residents)

This is still dicy for me to comprehend-but based on what the DataInst has suggested, since the course doesn’t count towards a Uni Degree-a Student Visa isn’t required. You could visit on a ‘B1’ visa and take the course.

Please don’t take my advice as being 100% correct in this least educated area. Feel free to edit/correct/add notes if you feel :slight_smile:

Accommodation & Food

I don’t eat non-vegetarian food or eggs, from extensive google map fiddling and other options, I can confirm that there are HUGE number of options and I won’t have to live on Salad also since Vegan options are heavily available in the Bay Area-this shouldn’t be an issue.

Cost of every meal will of course vary heavily. @lesscomfortable suggested a great app with plans for this: Mealpal: with meal options for around 7$/meal. Another suggestion from Francisco is cooking for myself will also really help cutting down the costs but I only know how to make good tea :smiley:

Accommodations:
As much as I’ve read about this online, the pricing really hit me this time-the area’s rents are just beyond comprehension.

  • AirBnb is not a good option for 2 months of stay since they charge extra if you stay for longer durations
  • Francisco has suggested taking up hostel rooms in the area-which can be significantly cheaper. (Approx 1200-1400$/mo). I’d like to again mention that it’s still feels very different to me to call that cheap.
  • @jamesd has also recommended using Craigslist to check the monthly rental options. Try this link
  • Ideally you’d want to look for rooms closer to Caltrain stations or BART Stations since the Cab fares are pricey if your commute would be longer.
  • Another option is to rent a room in a house, much less expensive than an apartment.

Public Transport & Tips for getting around the City

  • SF has a universal Clipper Card for the public transport (Trains, etc.). Check This link to find spots to pickup Clipper Cards
  • I’ve also realised that there are many Bi-cycle (Bike?) Rental options-which could also be a good way to get around to shorter commutes.

In-Person Study Groups Tips

  • Almost Everyone I spoke to heavily emphasised on this tip: During the course, there is a SG that meets every single day to work towards the course material and build projects-This is where you’ll get to see Jeremy’s work process behind the course as well. ATTEND THIS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE-if time permits, every single day.

  • There would be many ideas and small projects that people would be working towards during this duration. If you’re like me and haven’t found your “Dream Project” yet-this might be a great place to start. Andrew Shaw mentioned that this is how the DAWNBench score was also set by the group.

Other Meet-ups to Lookout for:

  • I know the meetup by @deena-b meets every week at USF. That is a must attend for me. I joined once (virtually), I’d really like to participate.

To-add other great meet-ups and study groups from the area that I believe would meet every weekend and outside of the study group hours of the Data Inst SG. Personally, I’d like to attend as many of these as possible.

I’ll also be collecting and adding tips if you’d like to present or speak or organise these events like myself.

Co-Working Space/HackerSpaces

I might be working from the area on weekends/evenings. Note-you might have to check the legal and visa details if you’ll be working while taking the course-I’m yet to figure out the details.

  • James has again suggested a HackerSpace: Noisebridge.
  • Generally, Co-Working Spaces are expensive. Try working from your accommodations/libraries.
  • USF might have options for you to work from-for the duration of the course run.

Places (Tourism) to visit in and around SF

  • Mission: Get an iconic profile picture near the Golden Gate Bridge :sunglasses:
  • For other places: Needs to be filled with the help of SF Folks :slight_smile:

I think those are the few points that I have to start with, I’ll keep updating this wiki as I discover more points. Please feel free to correct/add points if required.

Thanks!

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(Sanyam Bhutani) #2

@Jeremy could you please wiki-fy this? :smiley:

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(Kushajveer Singh) #3

That is a year of rent in North India.

Have the online invites for the next course started?

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#4

I just did (btw I also only attended the course online and not in person :wink: )

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(Asimo) #5

Also curios If there will be live stream online version of the new course like last year.

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(Jeremy Howard (Admin)) #6

Nothing has been announced or decided about a live stream online version.

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(Ravi) #7

@init_27 If you haven’t finalized on the accommodation details, you can also check for temporary accommodations at http://indianroommates.sulekha.com/. I am not sure about the SF region, but there are lot of postings about accommodation in my current city, Austin. Look for sub-lease or temporary accommodation posts.

Also, if you find time, do travel outside the city as well. There are lot of National parks around California that can offer breath-taking views.

Good luck with the course

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(Dana Ludwig) #8

Co-working spaces seem very expensive here in San Francisco. If NoiseBridge works that’s great, but if not, and if you don’t have to meet clients face-to-face, I would try to work where you sleep. The public libraries are another option, though can be crowded. If you can get a cheap data plan for your smartphone, that may make your remote working much more feasible. Anything that Data Institute can offer during the face-to-face course would be paradise.

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(Jeremy Howard (Admin)) #9

USF is generally open throughout the course, IIRC - although it’s worth checking with the USF folks about that.

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(Sanyam Bhutani) #10

Thanks all! I’ve updated the wiki to add:

  • The livestream details are yet be decided/announced.
  • Suggestions for Co-Working spaces.
  • http://indianroommates.sulekha.com/ Although I’d also be interested in meeting new people in SF (culturally new) If I make it so I’m not 100% sure if I’ll go for this. I’ve lived around Indian folks all my Life :smiley:
  • To Populate: Places to visit on Weekends and Meet-ups to attend in evenings/weekends.
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(Sanyam Bhutani) #11

@jcatanza Could you please share any suggestions for websites/how to scout for these?
Thanks!

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(Sanyam Bhutani) #12

Thanks!
Luckily, I’ve already had the opportunity to have :tea: with you :smiley:

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(Aman Arora) #13

I am curious about the Visa options, is it possible to attend the course on a tourist visa? I am not sure if I’d be allowed a B1 and I really don’t want to miss out the course because I didn’t get a visa.

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(Jeremy Howard (Admin)) #14

Yes, I believe that’s what most people do.

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(Priyatham) #15

I am searching for this info but failed finding it earlier. @init_27 Thank you so much for sharing the information (I follow your talks and it’s very exciting that I’ll be a attending class along with you). I am from Hyderabad (India) and I too got registered for the upcoming course.I am very excited, that I’ll be meeting amazing people, @jeremy(one of my recent inspirations) and many more amazing and enthusiastic human beings. Can anyone please throw a light on, with which visa can I be able to come and attend the course and also work part-time to fund my expenses as I’m really worried how to manage my fund.

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(Priyatham) #16

@jcatanza Yes please, I also would like to know this. It would be of great help to know the information about boarding with some reasonably budget housing option. Can anyone please share any information on this regard.

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(Joseph Catanzarite) #17

There are a number of websites listing rooms for rent in San Francisco; here are a few. And don’t forget craigslist.

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