The campus area in Stanford is nothing like we’re used to back in Finland. First of all, some claim that it’s the largest in the world when measured by land area utilized. For the first days it was definitely hard to move around here… you could really get lost easily (lucky they have iStanford app for iPhone which helps in navigating)! Now places like Main Quad, Tresidder Union and Arrillaga Sports Center are easy to find but if you asked me to find some random lecture hall somewhere in the campus… well that’s another story. Besides the size the campus culture is a bit different from the Finnish model: here everything is certainly “centralized” and all departments and different schools can be found within this one campus. It’s a great place for interaction – and for tourists to visit! And as said in last year’s blog as well, you can really see that the money lies here. The environment and buildings look polished and new (though some are surprisingly old-fashioned inside… or do not have air conditioning!) and the environment is rather nicely decorated with palm trees and fountains. For me it’s inspiring to even walk here!
Basically they have everything here on campus area. You can eat your lunch either in the dining halls (that’s what we SSIHP students mainly do since we have meal plans provided), at Tresidder Union dining booths or go further to Stanford Shopping Center or Palo Alto (only 10min by bike). For sports we have Arrillaga Sports Center which has a large gym, bouldering wall, basketball courts, fencing area and yoga room (and probably something else I haven’t discovered yet), swimming pools across the campus, beach volley fields, golf court, tennis fields, outside basketball courts and great terrain for outdoor jogging, to mention a few. Lecture halls are spread across the campus, many of them being nearby Main Quad which is a set of beautiful arced halls around inner yard called Memorial Court. When it comes to libraries, there are two dozens to choose from. Parks, auditoriums, health centers, concert halls, and the list goes on. Basically you name it, they have it here!
The apartment system in the campus works so that there are undergraduates living in dorms, graduates living in their own places and some students commuting from outside the campus. All of us SSIHP students live in a dorm called Branner Hall which is quite near to the “center of the campus”. For this summer Branner is filled with international students only (+RAs who are here to help and arrange trips for us this summer!) and there must be about 100 of us living here atm. Most of us have shared rooms for two people but there are also a couple of single rooms in the dorm. You couldn’t choose your room when you checked in to Branner, they had selected the rooms and roommates for you. I was so lucky to get a great roommate, so now I actually prefer sharing a room for the summer instead of living alone. The only minus points are shared bathrooms and showers – something I’m certainly not used to have in Finland! Also, we have a shared “Kitchenettes” here but for this week they decided to close them since some have not cleaned after them… So I have been eating dry Oats for breakfast now for almost a week, can’t recommend!
Some of the time during the summer will be spent in lecture halls around campus, I for example have actual lectures three times a week (and they all are 2x 1.5h), and in addition I have two swimming classes and two hip hop classes in a “school week”. The easiest way to get around is definitely bike, and basically everyone has bought/rented a cheap bike from Walmart/Target/campus. The distances are not too long but bike definitely saves you some time (and is really preferable when you go to Palo Alto, Mountain View or CalTrain station if you don’t want to wait for busses or walk 30+ min). Lecture halls vary a lot: I for example have my Tue&Thu classes currently in a hall where there are 200 people and no air conditioning (though they’re trying to get another room for us now) but my Fri class is in a modern lecture hall with mikes in front of everyone and the whole thing is recorded online. In my understanding most of the lecture halls are really nice and clean and look massive outside but may not have that much technology inside.
Since I use a lot of time to sports here, I have to mention something about the sports facilities as well. For me jogging has been a great way to discover the campus and especially in the morning the temperature is in favor. Around campus you can see beautiful beach volley fields, basketball courts and large grass areas welcoming you to play and try. The biggest sports center is located between Campus drive and El Camino real and there are multiple grass fields, Avery Aquatic Center, tennis courts and of course Stanford Stadium. I actually had the chance to go to SF Earthquakes vs LA Galaxy game in the stadium a few weeks back and it was amazing! When talking about outside sports, you have to mention the Dish which is an uphill hiking trail just outside of the campus – great view, great exercise! For gym-goers there is a versatile Arrilaga Sports & Recreation center near our dorm and another gym on the other side of the campus under construction. So at least for me the fear of having to give up sports here was proven wrong!
I could write so much more about campus area and everything they have here but nothing will beat actually visiting here. The buildings, atmosphere, weather and people around make this so unique experience which cannot be described in words. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we are really enjoying here and having the time of our lives!
Until next time,