Monday, March 11, 2013

on tour part 6: impersonating a grad student at The Farm

My college tour continues in San Francisco, California! My mom had a meeting at Stanford, so I came along for a college visit.

My mom's meeting was on Friday, so we drove to Stanford together, and then I was on my own to explore the campus. I experienced a typical day as a Stanford student, complete with a morning lecture, lunch at the Union, and visitors asking me for directions! I was on a very tight schedule that required a lot of quick walking. And I mean a lot. I went between three main points that are spread out in a large triangle. On this map, I drew where I walked throughout the day, with the paths in rainbow order from red to blue.

Red: From a morning class to the visitor center for a walking tour.
Orange: The walking tour from the visitor center to the bookstore and dining areas. 
Yellow: From the endpoint of the tour back to the visitor center for a Q&A session with Stanford students.
Green: From the visitor center back toward the dining areas for lunch at Tresidder Union. I got a little lost along the way and accidentally went on the walking tour a second time...
Blue: From Tresidder Union back to my mom's meeting.

I actually used the map scale to measure how far I walked, and I walked more than 5 miles! Strangely, it was much more tiring than running 5 miles, and my legs ached afterwards. Now I understand the appeal of a small, urban campus. No wonder all of the students were biking around. Here is a long row of bikes parked outside one building.

First, I went to a lecture from 9 to 10:50 am, called "BioE222B: Multimodality Molecular Imaging in Living Subjects II." As I was looking for the lecture room in a building of classrooms and offices, I was suddenly surrounded by medical machines and nurses wheeling around patients. I must have looked so strange, wandering through a hospital with a large campus map and confused facial expression. I had to ask a doctor for directions to the classroom. Eventually, I found the classroom entrance in this courtyard, which is where I was before I started looking!

I was really excited for the class because I'm interested in studying bioengineering in college. The professor, Dr. Brian Rutt, was a guest lecturer from the Department of Radiology. When I asked him whether I could sit in on the class, he asked me if I was a prospective grad student! Yes! I can pass for a 21 year old! Most people are excited to look 21 years old so they can get into bars, but I'm excited because I look like I belong in an undergrad/grad class. The lesson was on MR probes and particles, and the professor went through a whopping 81 slides in about 35 minutes! The surprising thing about the class was that all of the students were late. We started class about 10 minutes late, and even then, only one-third of the students had arrived. Some stragglers came in more than an hour late. Maybe they were up late the night before working on the business plans for their start-ups.

After the class, I had 10 minutes to get to the visitor center for the guided walking tour, so I did a combination of speed walking and very slow jogging to get there on time. Obviously, the tour couldn't cover the huge 8,180 acre campus in 60 minutes, so we just walked past some main buildings and landmarks, through the Main Quad, and ended near the bookstore and dining areas. The campus was beautiful, and the sunny California weather definitely didn't hurt.

Here is the Hoover Tower, a major landmark on the campus. I heard that there is a gorgeous view of Palo Alto from the top of the tower!

This is The Oval, a large grassy area in the middle of campus. The grass really is greener in California!

The Main Quad is one of the best places to admire the beautiful architecture at Stanford. In the center of the Quad, you're surrounded by it! The buildings were designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed Central Park. I love the Spanish-style design, with the red tile roofs and sandstone.

In the Quad, you can see the Memorial Church, which has so many amazing details painted on it!

And, of course, it wouldn't be California without the palm trees! Here is one in front of Montag Hall.

After the tour, I did some more speed walking to get back to the starting point of the tour for a Q&A session with current Stanford students. There were four Stanford students and about 10 visiting students at the session (with no parents), so it was very personal and casual. We all sat in a circle, introduced ourselves, and talked about anything we were curious about. The session gave me a really good sense of the people and everyday life at Stanford. The students were so friendly and easy to relate to. Surprisingly, they only had great things to say about Stanford! It was nice to talk directly with students about their experience at Stanford rather than reading a brochure or going to an information session, which eventually starts to sound the same at every college. I asked about the research opportunities on campus, and the Stanford students said all together, as if on cue, that it's really easy to find research.

After that, I got lunch at the Union and then met up with my mom after her meeting! We were planning on seeing the Rodin Sculpture Garden since apparently Rodin is kind of famous or something. But then, someone suggested the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden, which wasn't listed anywhere. It was a hidden gem! The back-story was that the New Guinean artists were visiting campus and said they could do a better job than Rodin, so they made a bunch of pieces for this little park.

Here's one of the sculptures with geckos and fish on it! I love the intricate scales carved on the gecko.

Most of the sculptures were carved, but here's a painted one!

Ironically, I look pretty stupid in my thinking pose.

Posing for a picture with my new New Guinean friends!


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