A friend of mine messaged me and asked how things were going at school after my first few days there. My schedule here has been so packed and I only had a few moments to answer with: EVERYTHING IS AWESOME THIS IS THE COOLEST SCHOOL EVER. Needless to say, this has been one of the best weeks of my life.
On Tuesday, September 15th, all of the “nationals” showed up. ISO ended and the craziness of NSO began. I met my roommate and 80 other frosh who live in my dorm. My roommate grew up in Stanford, CA but is Italian, so she spent her summers in Italy. We have a lot in common – she’s also interested in global health and international politics. I think we’re going to have a great year together! That day I toured the REC center and went to an open house on religious faith at Stanford. We had our Opening Convocation Ceremony and played mixer games with our dorm. So many names to remember!! That’s been almost the most exhausting part. Remembering names and trying not to ask people “what are you going to study” for the 4000th time. At the end of the day a lot of us were ready for bed … but no. It was time for BAND RUN! All 1700 freshman – and a whole ton of upperclassman – ran all around campus with the band blasting tunes. The Leeland Stanford Junior Marching Band is not your average marching band. To join you do not have to be able to play an instrument – but you have to be certifiably crazy. Band run ended at around 1:00 in the morning. And because my dorm is even more extreme, we went fountain hopping afterwards.
Wednesday was packed as well. I woke up bright and early to take my Spanish placement test… and was placed into First Year Spanish, Third Quarter. Welcome to Stanford. We then had a “Discover Stanford” session and went to various lectures on planning your first quarter and choosing classes. After dinner we had what turned out to be the best event of NSO: Faces. We heard from all different Stanford students on their experiences here. The very first speaker was an African-American who talked about the way his Christian faith had supported him throughout his first two years as a Stanford student and how it was a key factor in overcoming a drinking problem. It was so cool to hear that! I hadn’t met very many Christians up until that point and it was great to hear that they are a significant part of the community here – even if they are small in number. After hearing different speakers from all different personal backgrounds, and watching student groups perform, we headed back to the dorm for our own version of Faces. Our RAs asked us to write a few characteristics on index cards in two categories – visible and invisible traits. These were then written on a board at the front of the room, anonymously. It was so interesting to see how the visible traits and invisible traits varied. Some people put characteristics on the invisible side that others thought were visible. Looking at that board I realized that I was surrounded by people who had gone through so much more than I ever imagined. I think that already we had begun to fall into the “Stanford happiness trap” of always answering “great” when someone asks you how you’re doing and being happy ALL the time. I’m not saying it’s bad to be happy – not at all. But it’s better to be open. The RA’s then opened the floor, and slowly we began to pour our hearts out to each other. People told stories they said they had never recalled to anyone before, and the room was filled with brutal honesty and deep trust. I did not remember most people’s names, yet I had heard their deepest struggles. We talked for three hours. Since then, my dorm has grown closer and closer. We know that we’re all here for each other and we make an effort to be social and connect with one another. I love my dorm, and this is going to be an awesome year!
The next few days were a mixture of activities and some much needed free time. Thursday we had our “First Lecture” and attended other lectures by professors on their favorite topics. Then we got to meet with our Pre-Major Advisor. Mine is a HumBio professor who focuses on global health and specifically disease prevention. It’s easy to get caught up here in thinking everyone else has things more figured out than you do… and I had begun to fall into that trap. Talking to her was great because she encouraged me that HumBio seemed like a great fit and that Stanford was going to be wonderful for me! Thursday night we had another big meeting called “The Real World: Stanford” where different students talked about alcohol, drugs, sex and campus life in general. They did it through a series of skits that were interesting and entertaining.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday I spent with my classmates, exploring the campus and seeing what it has to offer. On Sunday InterVarsity took us to Peninsula Bible Church for the first stop on the church tour. All of the interested freshman in Stern, my dorm complex, went together. There were six of us from my dorm which was awesome. Although I loved meeting more Christians and going to church I don’t think PBC will end up being my home church. Sorry Mom and Dad! Next week we’re trying out a smaller church called Highway. I also want to go to Menlo Park Presbyterian soon.
Monday I start my classes! Here we go!