Monthly Archives: November 2017

Stanford experience by Rasmus Viitala

An amazing adventure indeed! For someone originating from an island with 400 residents, studying this summer at one of the world’s most prestigious universities and meeting talented students from all over the world was definitely a dream come true.

As others of our Aalto-six crew shared the same courses as me, I will be focusing on more practical tips on how to maximize your Stanford summer experience, with some suggestions being extracted from previous blog posts for your convenience.

Team picture

Team picture

Preparations for the journey

  1. Ask for feedback on courses you’re interested in, the descriptions are very brief so it’s worth the effort to investigate.
  2. Buy flight tickets early, but do consider thoroughly if you’d like to fly a week early and stay after the program, as this is expensive to change later on (I arrived to San Francisco 5 days before the program started and left the US to Canada one week after it ended. It was definitely worth it in my opinion and you don’t necessarily have to know ahead of time what you will be doing in the US for instance after the program, I certainly didn’t). Also try to coordinate your flights so that everyone doesn’t come on a different day and many of you have to see things they’ve already seen (ended up visiting the Fisherman’s Warf three times during the first week).
  3. If you’re planning on staying in San Francisco, I would recommend checking out a hostel called Green Tortoise which was both very pleasant and offered a lot of activities.
  4. If you want to go to Alcatraz on your own, book it very early (can also go for free with the program, but there is very limited number of spots).

The first weeks at Stanford

Lagunita Court

Lagunita Court

  1. Buy a bike ASAP, don’t rent it! Buy the bike from Walmart or Target, they are cheaper (can be as low as 80$) and have bike return policies (you can also check out craigslist and supost.com, Stanford’s own marketplace, to get a good deal for a bike and selling it after the summer school’s over, but we all opted for Walmart due to speed and certainty). Emphasis on getting the bikes fast as Walmart was all out of bikes after Sunday of the welcoming weekend. Also check the Stanford shuttle times to Walmart ahead of time so you get there and back before dinner ends, and don’t have to cram five bikes into three Ubers. An adventure, though not one I’d recommend too much.. Lastly, returning the bikes in the end of the program is not guaranteed to work, though they have a 90 day return policy.
  2. You must get pillows, sheets, towels, a cover, hangers etc on your own, do that for instance in Walmart when getting bikes.
  3. Phone: discuss getting mobile data plans, not everyone needs them as the main gain is being able to order Ubers, however about $50/month + probable extra expenses from unrecovered trip shares are a good idea to split for instance with an app like Splitwise. All data plans don’t work with Finnish phones (actually very few do), but you can check this from https://willmyphonework.net/
  4. Printing: you can print with your ID card at computer clusters in each dorm building, but you have to upload credits to your card first and download drivers etc if you want to print from your computer, more information at: http://library.stanford.edu/using/print-copy-scan
  5. PO Box: If you want to order things for instance from Amazon (free 6-month student prime membership with Stanford email), you need to get a box. You should also try to split it with a friend so both get keys for added convenience and reduced payments (note: you should get back about half of your payment after the summer as you end your contract in less than 2 months).
  6. Be very active through participating in events and try to diversify your network also to graduate students (many of the events organized at campus are close to their residences and you might never hear about them without inside information).
Stanford Memorial Church

Stanford Memorial Church

Creating the best summer of your life

  1. Travel on weekends as much as your schedule allows, it is on these trips that many of the best memories are created. Rent a car through Enterprise (students get a discount, though note you need a credit card to pay, so my Visa Electron debit card was to no use in this) and do it ahead of time as the cars start to run out as people realize what opportunities they have. I think I had booked on every weekend of the entire program at least one trip/adventure, and it pays off to make a rough plan early so you can recruit people with you (I recommend considering both the amount of people and diversity. Also note trips don’t happen if no-one takes initiative, but come up with a plan/suggestion and there will most likely be many interested). My favorite places in/near California were Yosemite, Lake Tahoe and Vegas, and when it comes to activities: hiking, surfing and skydiving.
  2. 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.
  3. Utilize the excellent sport facilities on campus. Everything is relatively close by and at least Arrillaga Outdoor Education and Recreation Center (gym with a pool) is free.

    The gym

    The gym

  4. Go fountain-hopping, it’s both refreshing and there are more fountains in Stanford than you imagine, so try to catch them all!
  5. Dining is free and though the food is good and you can eat healthy, the variation is less than optimal. Therefore, it’s good to adventure also to Arrillaga family dining, which further than the Lakeside Diner (inside Lagunita Court where we lived), but is the biggest diner in campus and has a little better diversity.
  6. Visit the classical Stanford sights such as the Hoover tower and the Cantor arts center at some point. It’s easy to forget what’s near and we barely made there on the last week of the program.

All the best, Rasmus Viitala

Engineering physics

School of Science

Stanford experience by Juhani Riikonen

In my blog, I tell about my experience at Stanford, especially from an academic point of view. You can also find some info about free time and other tips & tricks, but please scroll through other Aalto Six 2017s’ texts for more.

If you’re planning to apply to the program, make sure your application is perfect. For the interview, remember to prepare well so that you can give a short pitch about yourself and let the interviewers know why Aalto should choose you to Stanford. Tell about the things that make you special, and show that you’re passionate about your field of study. When starting the summer session, I was in the end of my 4th year of studies, pursuing for a degree in energy technology. So, if you’re interested in applying but doing your master’s already, don’t hesitate to apply.

Studying at Stanford

The courses I did during the summer Environmental Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Persuasive Communication for Environmental Scientists, Practitioners and Entrepreneurs and Energy Resources: Fuels and Tools. What I noticed was that the course staff was really motivated. They seemed like they wanted to give something. The staff shared their own experiences, took time for discussions during the class and invited students weekly to their offices. The extremely high motivation and dedication of the teachers is a thing that I might miss back home on some courses, unfortunately.

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For me, Persuasive Communication was an amazing course. Basically, it was about learning methods to use when trying to affect people’s opinions. The point of view during the course was not that environmental so I highly recommend this course even if environmental values are not among your top priorities.

Environmental Entrepreneurship was also brilliant. The professor was a venture capitalist so he could give useful facts also from the investor perspective.

For an energy tech major, Energy Resources wasn’t that useful. If you’re studying energy, think twice before picking this course. On the other hand, if you know nothing about energy, this course could be a bit demanding.

In addition to my own experiences, I heard a lot of good stuff about Public Speaking and Technology Entrepreneurship. Considering that, I would highly recommend to pick communication or entrepreneurship related courses in Stanford.

Still, be careful when selecting courses, especially if you are a grad student. Some classes are shared with visiting high school kids meaning that the classes cannot be that advanced. Thus, you might want to pick something totally different from your own field of study. Consider also, whether you want to pick a course with a set of lectures and an exam, or if you want to pick a course exclusive to Stanford, with group works, excursions and pitches.

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Free time

The work load of the academics was not enormous, I’d say it’s the same in Aalto. After working weekdays, I always had a free weekend to explore campus and California, including Santa Cruz, Alcatraz and Yosemite National Park. Renting a car from Enterprise was easy and quite cheap.

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Stanford has a lot of different sport opportunities, such as gym, swimming, tennis, bouldering… you name it. Take a look at the different alternatives before you arrive to campus. You’ll definitely find something you like! And as I said, the workload is not terrible (and even if it is) so you’ll have time for exercising.

The first half of the summer was rather relaxed and the courses became more intense on the second half. Keep that in mind when making your own plans for the summer.

Anything that bothers you and I forgot to say about the application and summer itself, please don’t hesitate to contact me! I’ll gladly give more info.

Regards,

Juhani

Juhani.riikonen@aalto.fi

fi.linkedin.com/in/juhaniriikonen

School of Engineering

Stanford experience by Olli Laukkanen

I’m writing this blog post on the way home, flying over the never-ending prairies of the West, after an inspiring, instructive and terribly fun experience at the International Honors Program (IHP) at Stanford University over the summer of 2017. In this all too brief description of the summer at Stanford, I will first focus on the classes I took and then provide some insight and tips for future students in the program. Altogether, my key takeaway is: A summer at Stanford and in the Silicon Valley is definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and yes, you should apply!

When applying for the IHP last spring, I was a second-year chemical engineering student at Aalto. I had studied a variety of different engineering courses and a bit of economics as my minor. As for my studies at Stanford, I decided to take note of some previous Aalto students’ tips and select courses outside the area of my previous studies. Personally, I would definitely recommend choosing at least one course with an experimental nature – this is your chance to discover a passion for something that you might not be able to study at home! Anyway, as I look back and try to evaluate my classes at Stanford, it is worth keeping in mind that they were all new to me in a sense, which might positively skew my judgment about them.

My three classes over the summer comprised a splendid plunge into the fields of public speaking, political philosophy and political science. The classes were called 1) Romancing the Room,  2) Justice and Climate Change and 3) Comparative Corruption. The brief descriptions provided online might not fully accurately describe the classes and it is definitely worth spending some of the first days at Stanford checking out several optional courses and then settling on those that seem to be the most intriguing all things considered.

Comparative Corruption (3 units) was a fascinating political science class on the different aspects of corruption. This class greatly benefited from the diversity of the student body of the summer quarter, as the students from all the world could engage and share their views and stories in the discussion and debate that consituted a significant part of the classes. Even though the class had quite a lot of weekly preparatory reading, I would definitely consider its workload the most lightweight of my three classes. I must say that at times, certain student presentations seemed to take too much time as the teacher enforced some of the time limits rather poorly, but I certainly met and connected with some of the most interesting characters of the summer in this class!

Justice and Climate Change (3 units) was primarily a political philosophy class on the concept of justice, not so much purely environmental studies. I enjoyed the variety of different thinkers that we were exposed to during the course. Seemingly technical or economic climate change problems led to surprisingly complex ethical questions and provided great substance matter to the discussions about different natures of justice. This class was held by an enthousiastic PhD student and all the class meetings were very engaging and a great opportunity to get to know students in class. The class did demand quite a lot of time to complete all the preparatory reading and essays, but as I mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of viewpoints, from Locke and Friedman to the leading contemporary climate science philosophers.

Public Speaking – Romancing the Room (3 units) was definitely one of the highlights of my experience at Stanford. Altogether, the wonderful teaching team, the shared passion for the art of speaking, the individuals’ growth on stage throughout the course and the unforgettable final exam dinner in Palo Alto restaurant made this class an absolute favorite of many and a constant topic in the discussions among IHP students outside the classroom, as well. Personally, I would love to make this course mandatory for all, and thus I feel I need not reveal more: I give the strongest of recommendations for the future students to check it out!

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Department of Chemistry

As much as people come to Stanford for the pure academic experience, it is mostly what happens outside the classroom that makes the IHP summer so memorable and fascinating. Silicon Valley itself surely provides unlimited curiosities even if you’re not a tech maniac coming to Stanford – perhaps even more so in that case! The many nuances of the American society are also visible in the Bay Area: the vast inequality problem is contrasted between the tech billionaires and the seemingly unlimited resources of institutions like Stanford, as simultaneously the countless homeless people roam the streets of San Francisco and spend their nights under the stars, on the stairs of the City Hall. The boom of the technology companies has led to high costs of living in the area and one can literally witness gentrification taking place in many neighborhoods. Following the news at least a little can prove worthwile while in the Valley, as the local and national news ranged from the role of gender as Google engineers to the worrisome rise of white nationalism in the American South to the immigration policies of Trump administration and the effect of the greater political turmoil on the technology sphere. Every now and then, I found it sobering to have discussions about matters like these, as it might be all too easy to forget about many of the nasty real world problems when surrounded by the unlimited sunny weather, the evergreen lawns of Stanford in the middle of the drought of California, and the fascinating encounters between the catalytic venture capital and optimistic start-ups, aiming at technological disruption on all fronts. All in all, the experience at Stanford was thought-provoking much beyond the academics and the vibrant, intoxicating tech scene.

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The diverse backgrounds of the bright students within the IHP and the Summer Quarter guarantee friendships across the globe, if you give it a chance. I definitely recommend getting outside of your comfort zone during the summer: if possible, 1) Be open-minded, don’t be too cool for some perhaps odd or seemingly silly activities. (A Jazz Festival in San Francisco was one of the more inspiring experiences for me, a person with the musical skills of a speed bump!) 2) Try out a new hobby or sport (maybe some intra-murals or extra-curricular activities – take advantage of the superb facilities provided at Stanford) 3) Consider sharing a room with someone (most of the students at our Lagunita Court residences had their own room, but I saw some the greatest friendships being formed between roommates.) 4) Arrange activities and trips on your own – these are bound to be some the most memorable experiences! (I would not trade a weekend at Yosemite National Park for anything.) 5) Do not always dine only with oh-so-wonderful Aalto-Six as an exclusive Finnish Speakers Club!

And on a more practical note: 6) Get a bike as soon as you can. (The supply can prove to be rather limited at the nearest Walmart!) 7) Try out the different dining halls of the campus for a little variety of cuisine!

Kuva 2

In the end, it proves hard to give specific attributes that make the Stanford IHP summer so worthwile. There are truly so many incredible aspects to this wonderful opportunity that Aalto and Stanford generously provide. If you are reading this and made it all the way down here, it would be an absolute disgrace not to apply for this adventure. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or second thoughts about the application process, practicalities at Stanford or anything related!

Always take time to smell the flowers.

Olli Laukkanen

olli.o.laukkanen@aalto.fi

School of Chemical Engineering

Stanford experience by Heli Julkunen

This summer I had a wonderful opportunity to take part in Stanford Summer International Honors Program as one of the Aalto University’s representatives. At the beginning of the summer, I had just graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Bioinformation Technology from the School of Electrical Engineering and was thus considered as a graduate student at Stanford. Currently I am starting the first year of my Master’s studies in Life Science Technologies with a major in Complex Systems. In this report I will tell you about my summer experiences in Stanford, covering academics, campus life and extra-curricular activities.


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Academics

At the time of applying for the scholarship, I was planning to focus my Stanford studies on data science and IT related courses since these suited my interests and studies well. These are also fields in which the Summer Session has a great selection of courses in. In addition, Stanford being well known for its relationship to Silicon Valley, I also wanted to utilize the opportunity of being at Stanford and experience the entrepreneurial atmosphere there. I ended up taking three courses: Data Mining and Analysis, Technology Entrepreneurship and Leading Trends in Information Technology. These are popular courses that also several previous Aalto students have taken – I will next share my insights on them.

Data Mining and Analysis (STATS 202)

This was an introductory level course to data analysis and machine learning, covering different regression and classification algorithms as well as methods for evaluating the performance of the models. The professor Rajan Patel had a lot of industrial experience of working for e.g. Google and hence, he also provided interesting insights to the data mining processes of companies. This course had the highest workload of all the three courses that I had: there were homework sets due every other week and in the end students could choose between a final project and an exam. I chose to do the project, which made the last couple of weeks extremely busy but also taught me a lot.

Technology Entrepreneurship (ENGR 145)

This course provided an introduction to entrepreneurship by teaching about different phases of building a startup. The course included guest lectures of several aspects of entrepreneurship, such as design thinking, hiring a team and understanding legal viewpoints. As a part of the course, we formed teams and performed an opportunity analysis project for a startup idea. Another assignment during the course was writing a personal business plan, covering critical decisions regarding our personal and career life and developing practical strategies for our personal journey. Overall, I found this course and the lectures given by experts of different fields very inspiring and motivating.

Leading Trends in Information Technology (MS&E 238)

This course focused on new technologies and trends in IT, such as cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence. There were guest lectures each week given by entrepreneurs, analysts and IT executives introducing broad range of aspects. This was one of my favorite courses and provided in-depth insights to the topics that are currently shaping the IT business without going too much into technical details.

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Campus life and extra-curricular activities

Living on campus was a major part of the whole Stanford experience and this year all the IHP students got assigned to Lagunita Court. All the Aalto students got their own rooms, but some of the other students shared their room with one or two people. Living in the same dorm made it easy to spend time with other students and really tied the IHP community together. Otherwise Stanford also offers great surroundings with picturesquely beautiful campus and a lot of opportunities for exercising with gyms and pools nearby.

Even though some of the courses were quite a lot of work, I also had time to travel and explore the surrounding areas. There were extra-curricular activities and trips organized by the Summer Session almost every weekend, but I participated only in a few of those: soccer game on the 4th of July weekend and trips to California Academy of Sciences and Computer History Museum. We also got to make some self-organized excursions, including a visit to the Nordic Innovation House in Palo Alto as well as three companies: Google, Facebook and Nest.

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To explore more of California, we organized a lot of weekend trips ourselves – during the summer I got to visit places such as Santa Cruz, Napa Valley, Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. These trips were one of my favorite part of the summer and I got many memorable experiences and friendships out of those. I would also recommend anyone to stay in the US after the program –  I stayed there for three weeks and had many unforgettable adventures from surfing in Malibu to eating tacos in Mexico and enjoying views over the Grand Canyon.

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The summer was definitely one of the highlights of my life and I enjoyed every minute of it. The inspiring atmosphere and community at Stanford is incredible and something you cannot experience in Finland. The mindset I had in Stanford is also something that I wish to further sustain. Spending the summer at Stanford is an experience that I would not trade for anything and I want to express my gratitude to Aalto for providing me with this amazing opportunity. For anyone considering applying, I would recommend just going for it!

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I will be happy to answer any questions you may have via email: heli.julkunen@aalto.fi.

Heli Julkunen

School of Electrical Engineering

Stanford experience by Rasmus Halme

Hi there! My name is Rasmus Halme and I am a 3rd year finance student at Aalto BIZ. This past summer I got the magnificent opportunity to be part of the Aalto-Six and join the Stanford Summer Sessions International Honors Program (SSIHP), proudly representing both Aalto and Finland.

Now that the dust has settled and we’re all safely back in Finland, it’s time to look back and let people know what we were up to. Just like Aalto representatives from previous years, I will try to provide some insight on my experiences during the summer to anyone interested, but especially for those lucky future SSIHP participants. Since I feel like the tips, recommendations and course descriptions from previous years covered all of the important stuff, I’ll just share a general view on the few key aspects of the summer.

Academia

campus_Halme

Campus

Considering that we were attending Stanford University, a world-renowned academic institution, the workload on my courses wasn’t particularly high. Sure, I might have skipped the advanced engineering courses, but generally speaking, I feel like the unique Stanford learning experience comes from the inspiring professors and atmosphere, rather than the courses’ difficulty. Overall, I took 3 courses, adding up to the recommended 8 credits for the summer:

Leading Trends in IT (MS&E 238), 1cr

Followed the same concept as previous years and definitely worth popping in and listening, even if you don’t feel like taking the course. Visiting lecturers, mostly executives and founders from Silicon Valley, came in and shared their perspectives on the latest major tech trends and how their companies stay on the leading edge of development. This year, the focus was on cloud computing, big data, machine learning and neural networks, and we had guys such as Tesla co-founder JB Straubel giving their take on these issues. Whoever was speaking, was likely to be among the best in the world at whatever the subject was. Pretty damn cool, I must say.

Technology Entrepreneurship (ENGR 145), 4cr

A notable course with a bunch of famous alumni; pragmatic professors and inspiring speakers guarantee that everyone gets something from the course. Just like most introductory courses in Aalto, a lot of the substance taught could be found in relevant books, but the general buzz (ie. pöhinä) around building the startup-project and constant entrepreneurial “TED-talks” made the course special. Also, as a finance student, getting exposure to the tech-VC world and the general early-stage funding scene in the Valley was especially cool. Get a diverse group and work hard; this was the course that everyone talked about in the campus streets.

Introduction to Decision Making (MS&E 52), 3cr

An interesting course partly lacking proper execution and depth of content. Lectures consisted of decision analysis fundamentals taught through various frameworks and some practical examples. In the end, the seemingly qualitative course turned into mechanical grinding of different decision analysis tools. Even though I feel like learning about strategic decision making was cool and the professor was entertaining, you should probably take some other course, unless you’re really into the subject.

Free time

As explained above, I had plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful Stanford campus, go on adventures, and meet new people.

adventures_Halme

Adventures

The campus provides spectacular sports facilities and I thoroughly enjoyed having the gym, golf course, tennis courts, and soccer fields within a few minutes’ walking distance, not to mention taking refreshing morning swims at the nearby pool. Regardless of basically living at an all-inclusive holiday resort, we did weekend trips almost every week; hiking in Yosemite, partying in LA and SF, tasting wines in Napa Valley, shopping in San Jose, surfing in Santa Cruz, and the list goes on (someone else will probably tell a bit more about these). After the program, a friend of mine flew from NYC and we did a road trip from Vancouver back to SF before we headed back to cold Finland.

Since Palo Alto and the surrounding areas are known as the epitome of technological innovation and a global startup hub, we definitely wanted to visit some of the tech giants’ offices. We had awesome tours at e.g. Google, Facebook, and Nest. And yes, all the fuzz about these tech campuses and their bean bags and massage parlors is true. There is also a vibrant Nordic community in the area, and I’d recommend at least visiting the Nordic Innovation House in Palo Alto to get a hang of what other Finns are doing in the Valley, and how the ecosystem is being developed for Nordic startups. You might also score some good contacts for the abovementioned visits!

As many before me have said, the people you meet and spend time with is what really makes the IHP program invaluable; the campus life seems to form quite a close-knit community with something for everyone, whether you want to focus on studying, partying, traveling, or ideally on all three.

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IHP group

Final thoughts

You should definitely apply, if you’re eligible and interested even in the slightest. I’m sure I can say on behalf of the whole Aalto-Six that we got to do cool things, with great people in an inspiring atmosphere and we’re grateful for the opportunity that Aalto made possible.

If you get the chance to take part in this amazing journey, hit me up via FB or email! Let’s grab a coffee or a cold one and I’ll share some stories and tips that are probably better left unpublished 🙂

Cheers,

Rasmus Halme

Finance

School of Business

Stanford experience by Sara Gottschalk

Why I chose to apply for the IHP at Stanford University

When I read about the possibility to attend Stanford Summer School I knew I had to apply, because I was keen on studying something outside of my regular program, such as psychology and adjacent fields. Also, Stanford is a name and I thought it would be great to visit one of the top schools in the world to find some inspiration and learn more about where I want to go in life. I had spent a High School Year in Texas and had visited the country and especially California a few times before. Arriving in June 2017 felt a bit like coming home.

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Centre of the Oval

Arriving to Stanford

Arriving to the campus was mind-blowing as the campus is such a beautiful place, resort-like. It was overwhelming to take in all the new information concerning living at the campus, eating, checking out the courses, attending events, meeting new people and making other arrangements. Getting sick was one of my first activities and forced me to slow down, but also gave me the chance to realize what was ahead.

The dorm and IHP

My dorm room at Lagunita Court was very beautiful and located conveniently. The IHP organized many events and trips for us with interesting topics and locations to visit and did indeed take great care of us. The same counts for the House Director and Resident Assistants who were students living with us in the dorm to create a community and home for us there, by organizing get-togethers etc. Really, there was always some kind of event to attend to have fun, learn something new or just be part of the program. To me it was even sometimes a bit too much activity, which taught me to prioritize though.

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Walking the Stanford Dish hike trail

Also, by the end of the 8 weeks I realized how loud it was around the dorm (lots of people and groups passing by, construction work going on, general loudness of dorm and dining halls – each day) which affected my sleep. So: It’s always good to have earplugs!

The courses

I chose Thinking Strategically, 4 units (Political Sciences), Introduction to Social Psychology, 3 units and Leading Trends in Information Technology, 1 unit (Management Sciences and Engineering). Initially I had chosen another 3 units course instead of the 1 unit one, but had to realized that 10 units overall was too much to handle.

I was very happy with my Social Psychology class as the course provided a lot of insights into the topic, including exhaustive readings and a variety of exercises to learn how Social Psychologists work. Also, as I have more of a Media and Design background, the courses taught me how to do scientific research and work which was of great value. The teachers were very sweet and the class generally interested in the topic.

For my Thinking Strategically class it started out well but then became too complex and theoretical. After a while, it became clear that the course title and description were misleading, as it was actually a course introducing Game Theory. In the end, I spent lots of time struggling with the course homework and not really learning what I had expected. The teacher was wonderful and entertaining, but it should be a recommendation to potential students to really find out what their courses are about before committing to them.

The campus and facilities

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Favorite spot in front of Green Library – lots of squirrels to watch

As mentioned already, I absolutely loved the campus. It was beautiful to take bike tours and explore the different facilities, departments and areas. The swimming pool was across the street from our dorm. The Tennis courts were a 3-min bike ride away. Benches and park areas for taking a break and relaxing were available in abundance. My favorite spots were to hang out in front of Green Library, lie under a tree next to the Bing Concert Hall or just relax at the Oval in between classes. As I am a design student it was a must for me to visit the d.school and I loved the space. If you visit, you should take a tour and explore how design thinking is used there as a glue between all types of disciplines.

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d.school!

Walking around the Main Quad and enjoying the beautiful architecture and tall palm trees made me appreciate where I was each and every day. Also, the libraries offered plenty of resources and inspiration, including magazines in all languages. These special facilities and resources are definitely something to appreciate and use during the time of being there.

Bottom line

Stanford and Silicon Valley is an extraordinary place. It is full of life and all kinds of people and backgrounds and knowledge. It is easy to lose yourself in it during those 8 weeks and I suggest it’s exactly what you should be doing. Depending on what your goals and background is, you can make anything happen there. You will go in there and come out with a book full of ideas, learnings and stories to tell. In general, the summer is of course different and too short to really learn how things work there and make yourself a home, but it is definitely enough to get a feeling for the place and be touched and inspired by the possibilities. This experience taught me lots on a deeper personal and intellectual level. I learned about myself and others and I dearly appreciate the opportunity to have been part of this unique place and community. It does leave a mark on you, no matter in what way you choose to experience it.

My top 5 summer highlights

  • The IHP organized a variety of events where one of them was a Handwriting analysis workshop. Awesome!
  • Playing Tennis twice a week and attending the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
  • Day of Service at Half Moon Bay, an excursion organized for Summer Session students to give back to the community.
  • Weekend trips to Napa Valley, Santa Cruz, Yosemite NP and Lake Tahoe.
  • Being able to immediately see and apply what I learned during my Social Psychology course.
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Self-organized weekend trip to Yosemite National Park

My top 5 recommendations for future IHP students

  • Use sunscreen!
  • Don’t come with any expectations. Come, go with the flow, be ready to socialize (a lot) and attend every event you can, work hard and travel! Sleep later.
  • Double-check in the first weeks, if the courses you chose are really what you want to be doing for the next 8 weeks (some descriptions are misleading).
  • Get a bike – it’s possible to get around without a bike, but it’s just such a breeze with it.
  • Be a classic tourist for a day: take the free campus tour, get on top of Hoover tower and take many silly selfies.
  • Join a sport – you will meet interesting people outside of the Summer Session, such as staff, staff wives and husbands and full-time students
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A big >>Thank You<< to Aalto University

Who’s talking: Sara Gottschalk

From: Aalto School of Arts, Design and Architecture, MA Collaborative and Industrial Design