Reflection: 18 things for 18 million tourists

By Lauren LaLonde

Each year San Francisco welcomes, on average, 18 million tourists.  This year I happened to be one of them, and here are 18 things that I learned.

  1. The scenic hills of San Francisco provide beautiful views, but cause lots of sore muscles.DSC_0657
  2. Trying new foods can be uncomfortable, but can turn out to be one of the most memorable experiences you have (and when its paid for its a bonus).
  3. Media is not just television stations, newspapers, and social media, it is anything that we take in with any one of our 5 senses that affects our thinking or gets our attention.
  4. While Spanish is a popular language in San Francisco, many people also speak Chinese.
  5. The sharks in the bay of San Francisco are usually harmless, as it is more of a nursery for baby sharks.  It is very rare to find a Great White in the bay, and there has only been one fatality in the past 100 years (so if you were trying to escape from Alcatraz, you were more likely to get hit by a boat than attacked by a shark).
  6. Sea Lions actually just sound like a bunch of loud, barking dogs.
  7. The more tired you are, the worse your writing gets.  There is never a time when peer editing and reflection is not useful.
  8. While Chinatown only has about 10,000 residents, it is the most densely populated area in San Francisco.
  9. The Japanese Tea Garden’s original purpose was to be an attraction for the World Fair.18342547_10206664713336862_4048235968510313833_n
  10. Touch can actually be one of the most powerful ways to express a message or a feeling.
  11. Street art is not always vandalism, it is a meaningful and effective way to express messages that the community wants to be heard on a large scale.IMG_6960
  12. San Francisco is not always warm, it is consistently just chilly enough to make you cold (unless you are climbing some intense hills) – yet there is enough sun to cause some serious sunburn.
  13. Some projects can exist solely for the purpose of developing innovative minds, without the immediate need for monetary profit.
  14. Sometimes going with the flow and not having a plan leads to the best experiences.
  15. The San Francisco Chronicle depends greatly on social media to share their top stories, and gear a lot of their writing towards what is going to attract the most attention online.IMG_6766
  16. Public transportation in big cities is amazing, but sometimes very difficult to figure out (Uber made some money off of my impatience).
  17. When you spend 6 days with a group of strangers, you become very close very quickly.IMG_7108.JPG
  18. Never assume that media is unbiased, there is always bias because every writer has an opinion whether they are good at hiding it or not.


  1. Lauren – this list idea is very creative. I struggled to simplify my reflections when I wrote a traditional blog post, but your post is clear and concise – Awesome. I know that you were a little bit constricted by the structure of your post, but I would have loved to have a few more details about some of the things you learned. For example, why should I “Never assume that media is unbiased, there is always bias because every writer has an opinion whether they are good at hiding it or not”?


  2. I really enjoyed reading this post, the format was very accessible. I wish you would have been a little more in depth on some of the lessons you learned such as #10 when you talk about the sense of touch. If possible, could you include the certain aspects of the trip that informed you of each of these lessons? All in all a very good read though!!


  3. I loves the concept behind this because it caught my interest right away. For #13 & #14 I think if you expanded on what you were referring to it might give the reader more context.That way can relate to what you are saying even if they have not been to San Francisco before. Overall, creative and funny.


  4. The format enables you to talk broadly about your experience without rambling, which is excellent. While I think adding detail would ruin that, more pictures could be helpful. I find myself wanting a little context when I read this, and pictures are an easy way to do that without weighing down your post.


  5. Lauren, I loved your integration of 18 million tourists in the city each year. I agree that spending 6 days with 6 strangers leads to an intense level of closeness! In the future, I would love to see more pictures detailing each lesson from the trip.


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