Stanford culture

Time flies really fast here! It feels like we all just got here and now we have only two precious weeks left. Midterms are over for those who had them, and for me my group projects are drawing to a conclusion – which means a lot of group work and presentations for the next few weeks! At the same time I still want to take the most out of the atmosphere here at Stanford and in this post I wanted to describe a bit about the environment and general culture present here. What does it actually mean to be a Stanford student?

As Mikko mentioned in earlier post, one of last week’s biggest news amongst us international students was Forbes 2013 listing for America’s top colleges, and first prize came to Stanford (see the full list at! Open for argument, but Stanford is definitely one of the best universities worldwide and the name is recognized basically everywhere. There are certainly many factors influencing this reputation, including teaching quality, number of faculties and publications and quality of incoming students, which I will not question in this post, but something about Stanford is really unique. Being a Stanford student seems to go way beyond the black-in-white ranking lists.

A quick walk around the campus will give a good starting point to what I’m talking about. What differentiates Stanford (and probably other top universities as well) from Aalto is for starters that they have a huge, polished campus area full of students but even more the way everyone reflects the Stanford culture here. In one word, they are proud to be here. When you walk around the campus, you’ll see endless amounts of Stanford t-shirts, hoodies and jogging pants – when you go to the gym you’ll see people working out in their Stanford gear – when you go to lectures and public spaces they have Stanford logos, stamps and texts all over. Stanford is everywhere, and students want to support and embrace the culture openly. Here they have a large “Bookstore” selling not only books, computers, stationery, food, etc but also one huge floor dedicated only to Stanford products! And I’ll tell you, no one will leave here without Stanford products!

Current Stanford students are clearly (and justified!) proud of their university – and Stanford is proud of its graduates as well! In lectures and random conversations you can’t help hearing “Stanford graduates” being mentioned, even on a side note. Professors take great pride in having taught successful entrepreneurs or having some contact to them in their study times. And it certainly isn’t worth of denying that not only the university is famous: some pretty successful people have graduated from here and the school seems to have enormous amount of connections to business world at least! Not a coincidence I say…

Besides the students and faculty, Stanford is also a landmark for tourists. Whenever you walk around the Oval or Main Quad you will be surrounded by tourists taking pictures with school buildings and gardens. Mornings and weekends are especially “bad” – that is when the busses arrive to the Oval and dozens of tourists will be buzzing all around! This definitely tells something about Stanford: it is not only an university but an experience and a world of its own, not forgetting the beautiful environment of course. Even though tourists won’t see inside the classrooms or are able to participate in the actual learning experience, they will get a glimpse of the Stanfordian magic. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t be dodging them in my morning jogs!

Being surrounded by the tourists I always get the feeling that I am so lucky to be here even for the summer. Though I’m not a full-time Stanford student (though I welcome financing options!) at least I get the chance to be part of the community even this way. For me it goes way beyond participating lectures and studying here, it’s even more about the environment, culture and community I get to be in. I can definitely say I’m proud to study here and be part of Stanford experience and recommend this to everyone!

Now back to school work…!



Posted by tiina

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