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Fulbright scholar reporting his experience in San Francisco

Cem Yücetas, 30, studied photography at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach and at the Universität für Angewandte Kunst Wien before he studied as a Fulbright fellow 2003/2004 at the Academy of Art University San Francisco. In addition to the Fulbright scholarship, he was the recipient of an Enterprise Scholarship sponsored by the German Fulbright Alumni Association.

Here is what he has to say about his time in the US:

San Francisco, A Hell of a City

San Francisco, a city that always wanted to be different. It’s beauty was very popular, even before the existence of tourist attractions, because of the landscape and the mild climate. Ships, stopping in the area in the middle of the 19th century, had to force their sailors back on board because they liked it so much and wanted to stay.

But what makes it so special? The hills, the fog, the red bridge, the tolerant behaviour towards loving the same sex, the cultural life with amazing museums and galleries, a huge park, a slum next to the centre and the financial district? Can you find something here that you can’t find somewhere else?

Not who you are is important, who you want to be becomes the motto. And how does the city want to be? First of all different. Not L.A, it’s all about silicon and muscles, kind of snobbish. Not NY, everything is so fast and people just think of working. Not the Middle West, spontaneously everybody knows 100 jokes with original accent and grimace, not the North even though you don’t hear negative things about it and not Texas, "don’t mess with Texas". Yes, Texas has always been different too, but that’s another story.

In brief: The city is beautiful and its people are relaxed, very European a lot of people say, with lots of Asians, very international. Business people walk around next to joggers and tourists and homeless people and junkies ask you for money on every corner. Everywhere? No, only in the city.

My year in San Francisco At the Academy of Art I was a photography graduate student and especially took classes which we don’t have in Offenbach. My goal was to learn new techniques and the American definition of art. Assignments, class attendance and challenging critics about my work were part of my everyday life.

And then there are policies, rules appearing everywhere and for everything, foreseeing every detail in your life. It has to be this way and not another. And when you ask why, you can hear very often: "This is our policy, I’m just doing my job!" But I also had time for new friends, parties, weekend trips in the area and relaxing on the beach.

I am very happy that I studied in San Francisco and learned a lot. This city is different, but it is right for me.

(With permission of the author, Cem Yücetas, adapted from the FRANKly 2004)

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