San Francisco – Carla Suhr, IDESLI Co-Founder from Spain

1. Please introduce yourself.

My name is Carla Suhr, I’m from Spain, and I moved to San Francisco about 6 years ago. I found the area was a special place where I fit really well.

2. Can you tell us about your work?

I co-founded IDESLI International Institute of Linguistics with my partner Monica Vivanco about 5 years ago. IDESLI International Institute of Linguistics is committed to helping professionals, companies and organizations bridge linguistic gaps, build and expand their network, integrate the communities they work with and fulfill their mission by ensuring success in all projects and tasks involving a bilingual or multilingual approach. We provide language courses and multilingual translation.

3. What do you enjoy most about San Francisco, now when you have more experience, how’s the quality of life compared to Spain or where ever you moved from?

It´s fascinating to live in such a liberal and progressive city with a lot of open-minded professionals that want to improve the world.

4. Usually there are some negatives, what are the ones for San Francisco that really stand out for you personally? What do you miss most about “home” what ever that means to you?

I´m not a person who misses things really. Anything that I try to “import” from Spain? Being a little bit more relaxed when hanging out with friends, for example, instead of eating and leaving, I love “la sobremesa”.

5. Did you feel San Francisco is a good place for you as an entrepreneur right now? Are there any areas expats like you might like in the USA better than in San Francisco/Europe in your opinion (entrepreneurs? WHY?

San Francisco Bay area is a great place for entrepreneurs, with a lot of resources and investing companies. It´s also very competitive though, specially for technology start-ups. Probably there are many other cities that are good for entrepreneurs, i.e. New York, I guess it depends on the industry.

6. What are the best places/suburbs to live in San Francisco area in your opinion ?

East Bay has good transportation and is affordable, Marin County is very beautiful.

7. Do you go out a lot – hobbies? Or is everything about work right now? ?

I exercise a lot (hiking, yoga, climbing) and try to go out with friends as much as possible.
Most people in SF are very active.

8. What’s the cost of living compared to Spain or other places you have lived in? What is cheap or expensive in particular?

Rent is particularly expensive in SF. The rest of living costs are pretty similar.

9. What are the Californians like compared to for example people in Spain – do you notice any notable differences? Do you think it is easy meeting people and making friends in SF area?

Yes, it ́s a very diverse city, people have a very wide perspective of the world and are willing to meet new friends..

10. What’s the economic climate like in San Francisco, how would you compare it to Spain right now? Why?

I see that the economy is moving forward and doing better and better in SF. The recovery process in Spain is a bit slower.

11. How does the work culture differ from Spain?

It’s much more casual than in Spain, extremely professional but casual (you can wear jeans and flat shoes), specially in the start-up world.

12. Coming from Finland myself I know a lot about Spain. I also know most people here know very little about Spain, usually it is very superficial and limited to Barcelona and Madrid or Costa del Sol. What would you like to have everyone know about Spain – facts, culture and trivia.

Spain is a very culturally diverse country. I ́m from the Northern coast of Spain,the region called Cantabria, that is actually similar to Northern California, very green, with mountains close to the coast, and extraordinary food. If people are traveling to Spain for two weeks or so, I would recommend them not only to visit the big cities but also to explore the Northern and Southern areas.

13. Did you have any misconceptions about the USA that have turned out to be super wrong….or vice versa, you thought something will be great and it is exactly the other way around?

I didn’t have many expectations as I think it ‘s the best way to go.

14. Do you think your career (business) would be the same in Europe– or does this work better for you? Either way, please explain more.

I’m an entrepreneur by heart and I would have probably opened a business any place I would have lived in. We offer services to cover the specific needs of the SF population (those might be others in other places). i.e teaching Spanish for professionals.

15. If money was not a concern for you what so ever –what would you do?

Money might be one of the little factors that guide me in my decisions, but it’s not the main factor at all. When we started IDESLI, we did it with about $1,000. It wasn’t the money that made us start the business, it was our excitement to create something we believed in and for what we had the education.

16. What are your favorite restaurants/bars in SF?

NOPA and Plant Café Organic in Embarcadero are two of my favorite restaurants. Always good.

17. Is there any advice you would like to offer new expats/entrepreneurs arriving at San Francisco?

Come with an open mind, ready to learn and to give the best of yourself.

18. Anything else you would like to share with us?? Choose freely.

Visit !
We offer language services geared to entrepreneurs and workers coming to the USA from other countries as well: Business English Courses (focusing on pitches, presentations, …) that are available on-site and Online, and Certified Multilingual Translations. If you need any of these services, please email us!

Connect with Carla Suhr:
Carla Suhr at LinkedIn