I am Jussi Takaneva, third-year Finance student and a member of the Aalto-Six group of 2016. After studying for the summer at the International Honors Program, it is our duty (and pleasure) to write about our experiences from the summer at Stanford University. As I skimmed through all of the reports from previous years, quite many of them discuss already thoroughly about what courses have one taken. As a matter of fact, me and Mikko (Kuusisto) took the exact same courses, and he will tell you guys more about the technology entrepreneurship, leading trends in information technology and data mining and analysis -courses.
To give my contribution to the Aalto-Six members (and other students studying at Stanford), I will give you six wonderful tips that I think will be helpful for all of you lucky ones who have the opportunity to experience Stanford.
Few tips on campus life
#1 Wake up and exercise
If you have ever felt like it would be fun to get into a good shape, Stanford provides the best possible environment for it. Stanford provides top of the world recreational facilities for exercising ranging from gyms that include bouldering and climbing walls to golf. I highly recommend exercising every morning (or evening) before it gets too hot. Getting into superb shape does not get much easier than this.
# 2 Buy a bike, don’t rent it!
Stanford’s campus is huge. And by huge, I mean approximately four square kilometers. As you have only limited time during the days and you want to maximize your use of time, it makes little sense to walk every day to the other side of the campus to a lecture. I will also highly emphasize the importance of buying the bike from Walmart or Target. First of all the bikes cost around 100 dollars, which is only a fraction of the price that the renting will cost on campus. Also, these stores have a bike return policies, which would make the whole biking practically free!
#3 Venture beyond Arrillaga Diner
Arrillaga family dining commons is the biggest diner in the campus. Even though it has the largest menu and the food tastes amazing, you will get fed up with it, I promise. But don’t worry, there are plenty of great opportunities that you should try out. First, there were a couple of other diners as well, which had a different menu, such as Ricker Dining, which I would highly recommend (read: amazing ice cream table).
Of course, diners are not the only thing on campus. Coffee House’s pasta & pitcher combined with world class jazz artists is a great way to have a relaxing evening with friends and Palo Alto has tons of great restaurants and pubs to spend an evening.
#4 Start your school work early
Sounds a bit silly advice for stellar students like you, but all of the opportunities Stanford has to offer might make you question your usual habits. As you do not want to miss any opportunities both on campus and in Silicon Valley, in general, I would use all of my slack time to do the school work, projects, etc., even though it might not be due in the same week. I promise, some of the courses are pretty time-demanding and it is a lot more fun to first do the work and then party, not the other way around. If in doubt about your Data Mining -course strategy, please do not hesitate to contact Mikko.
#5 Use your extra days in your student visa
Don’t take my word for it, ask Kati. If possible, I would like highly recommend coming to California at least couple of days earlier and then I would travel at least one week after the program ends California. There are two reasons for this. First, do not have to stress so much about doing trips in the middle of the semester as you know you have still time after the program ends. Secondly, you will know much better what you still want to see after and tips & tricks on different cities so you are able to make most of your time. Also, it does not hurt to use your connections with other guys (see tip #6).
On connecting people (Nokia pun)
#6 Tap on your network
This is the most important thing and it will make your summer so much more memorable. If you know someone working in a company in Silicon Valley, do ask them if you (and your squad) could come to take a tour. For me, it was a huge surprise what a great Finnish community there is in Silicon Valley. Thus, even if you do not know anyone, just say that you are a student from Aalto, eager to learn from you guys and I promise, you will be having drinks in San Francisco with your new friends in no time.
Also a bonus tip: Also if you want to reach someone in the US, abuse your Stanford email. I think I do not need to elaborate this one further.
I had amazing summer and so will you. Start your applications process as soon as possible as well as book your flight tickets early and everything will go as planned. There are plenty of great advice on this website from few years back that are still completely relevant and thus I recommend reading the previous Aalto Six reports as well!