Posts Tagged ‘Hidden Treasures’

Putting the “experience” back in “Stanford experience”

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

It shall ring and float away... hail, Stanford, hail!

A favorite high school calculus teacher of mine often said, “sometimes it’s hard to see the forest because all the darn trees are in the way.”

Sometimes I think it’s easy to miss out on crucial, amazing parts of the Stanford experience by getting too busy with academics to notice the amazing opportunities that are passing you by.  To avoid that problem this quarter, I’m taking fewer units and a different approach to making the most of my time here.  See, I’m planning on co-terming, so as the midpoint of junior year approaches, I’m reaching the midpoint of my Stanford career.  Have I made the most of it?

I hope so.  I think so.  But I’d rather know so.

I’m working to alleviate this fear the only way engineers know how: quantifying it.  I figured I’d share my game plan because if it works for me, it might work for you, too.  I’m trying to make my list well-rounded, but I’d love to hear your ideas!  Suggestions?  Pointers?  Please share ’em in the comments.  I love this place and don’t want to miss out.

The Game Plan:  

Each of these categories has a number corresponding to how many times per week to participate in a category.  The bullet point suggestions below list examples of how to fulfill them.

Swingtime takes flight at an on-campus performance.

Arts (1):  support Stanford’s incredibly talented student artists!  See world-renowned performers!  The arts may never be more accessible (or cheap!) than while you’re at Stanford.

Sports (1+):  so, you really ought to exercise every day, but as a bare minimum, here are some suggestions for your weekly quota.

  • Join a friend’s intramural team!  Subs are always appreciated.
  • Run the Dish.
  • Walk Palm Drive with a friend.  Feel free to grab gelato for the way home.
  • Dance Marathon is coming up.  Even if you’re not signed up, you can always swing by with a donation and get your groove thang on.
  • Sign up for Relay for Life.


Up with the Arts, Down with Gravity!

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

I love giving Stanford tours on Friday afternoons.  The student body comes more alive than ever upon the happy completion of another challenging week.  Crowds of bright-eyed prospies traipse across the sunlit campus, Bookstore bags in hand.

But best of all, and most important to any successful tour, is its conclusion.  And on Fridays, tourists get one heck of a conclusion.  As I wrap up my discussion of student activities, my groups are all but mesmerized by the precision and skill of the Stanford students juggling in White Plaza.

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Who are these modern day magicians?  None other than Down with Gravity, Stanford’s own undergraduate juggling club.  Practicing 4 to 6 p.m. on Fridays in White Plaza, all levels of expertise are welcome to join, and their recent participation in one of SiCa‘s Spark Grants has yielded captivating results.  Check out their latest project, “Juggling Revolution,” above, which features impressive juggling and beautiful shots of locations around the Stanford campus.  And don’t forget to watch these masters in action on Fridays!

Know of other awesome student art projects that deserve some spotlight?  Let us know in the comments!  :)

Hidden Treasures: Stanford’s Social Dance Scene

Sunday, December 11th, 2011


Stanford students havin' a ball!

To the uninitiated, the verbiage of the social dance world probably sounds like a foreign language.  Wanna Lindy HopShim Sham, or do the Hully-Gully?  Need a partner for Kerry Sets?  Did you learn BNP at FNW?

Yet, every first* Friday of  the month, hundreds of Stanford students gather in Roble Gym for “Jammix,” an event for social dancers consisting of dozens of dances from the past three centuries.  From polka to salsa, from swing to redowa, Jammix has it all, and newbies with a willingness to learn are welcomed alongside old pros.

Wait, you may ask, where do these students come from?  Thanks to Stanford’s enormously popular dance division courses, every quarter brings new initiates to Stanford’s thriving social dance community.  And don’t be discouraged by flashy dance shows like “Dancing with the Stars” – jeans, T-shirts, and socks or dancing shoes are the preferred attire among Stanford’s dance ninjas.

How do I get started?

There are tons of awesome dance courses at Stanford.  The timeless favorite starter course is Dance 46: Social Dances of North America I.  Often full within 48 hours of the opening of registration, “Social I” is a jam-packed whirlwind of America’s favorite social dances.  Ever wanted to sweep a damsel off her feet a la Fred Astaire?  Don’t worry, you’ll be a pro at waltz and swing in no time!  Ever envied Michael Buble’s sweet salsa moves?  He’ll be wishing he’d saved the last dance for you.  😉

It don't mean a thing.... (Stanford swing dancers in Roble Gym)

For the full gamut of awesome social dance classes, check out the following list.  Most of these courses are taught by Stanford’s resident expert Richard Powers, whose role as a world-renowned dance historian has kept social dance alive and authentic on the Farm and beyond.

I want more!
  • Awesome!  Lucky for you, the annual Viennese Ball is right around the corner.  Held every February, Viennese Ball is the largest social dance gathering of the year.  Usually hosted at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, Viennese covers two dance floors with live swing and waltz bands and features a beautiful, elaborate opening ceremony.  Bust out the tuxes and evening gowns, because this is a breathtaking night to remember!
  • In advance of Viennese, Stanford holds the Bon Bon Ball and “Austria Fortnight,” two weeks full of free social dance lessons throughout campus – no partner or experience necessary.  Wanna learn more?  Check out the Stanford Dance Division website here.  Happy dancing!
* sometimes second

Trees and Cacti and Sculptures, Oh My!

Monday, January 10th, 2011

There comes a time in every rightly-constructed boy’s life when… he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.”

Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

From the foothills to the bay....

Stanford consists of 8180 acres.  That’s mildly ridiculous.  Let me put that into perspective: if you count just Disneyland Park itself, that’s roughly 96 Disneylands.  So Stanford waaay outranks Disneyland as the happiest place on earth!  Q.E.D., right?!  But seriously, folks: we students rarely encounter the vast majority of this immense, beautiful campus with which we have been blessed.  And I think a change would do us good.

Just like Twain’s rightly-constructed boy, I implore you, the rightly-constructed Stanford student, to explore the hidden treasure concealed before your very eyes in Stanford’s beautiful outdoors.  Channel your inner Tom Sawyer and ready your treasure map, because this post is all about ‘sploring the outdoor wonders that Stanford has to offer.

Bring me a shrubbery! Ahem, tree….

No, not that kind of Tree.

We have over 27,000 trees growing on central campus.  Whaaaat?  We have so many trees that we have an online encyclopedia of them, with precise bookkeeping identifying essentially every tree on central campus.  In case you’ve ever wondered, you can check out these freakishly thorough tree maps to plan your own adventure.  Rare, old, and historically important trees can be found here, and an assortment of special gardens and alluringly flowering courtyards can be found here.  In the springtime, check out the seasonal blooms along this route of hidden treasure.   In the fall, you can see Stanford’s best fiery autumn leaves by following these instructions.  There’s even a Stanford flora and fauna podcast!

Don’t consider yourself an arboreal connoisseur?  Well, have you ever gazed longingly at the tippy-top oranges on the trees by the Post Office and wondered where to find more?  Halt your awkward fruit-gazing and check this out: a listing of all edible fruit trees on campusKumquats, tangerines, and peaches are just a few of the tasty treats you’ll be able to find around campus.  For additional help, here’s an earlier TUSB post with a partial map.  Please be courteous and leave a fair share of fruit behind for your fellow scavengers!

Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve

The elusive checkerspot butterfly.

Jasper Ridge has been the site of scientific research since Stanford was opened in 1891, and to this day its researchers work “to contribute to the understanding of the Earth’s natural systems through research, education, and protection of the Preserve’s resources.”  There are approximately 60 projects going on at any given time, focusing on the four major areas of environmental and biotic change, structure of ecological communities, geology and geophysics, and direct human influences.  Current projects range from long-term studies of the checkerspot butterfly to testing of camera-trap mammal monitoring to earthquake prediction from electromagnetic anomalies.  Cool stuff!


Stanford… where opportunity knocks (you out)

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

When I work my tour guide shift at the top of Hoover Tower, I’m often reminded of the scene in The Lion King where Mufasa shows Simba the view from Pride Rock.

“Everything the light touches is our kingdom.”

The Lion King - clearly the best Disney movie of our generation

From my wind-chilled vantage point atop Stanford’s most prominent landmark, this is practically the case.  When I gaze from the faint tree line of SLAC to Campus Loop and back around to the Dish, I’m constantly reminded of how lucky we are to be here.  As Stanford students, we are blessed with the world’s third-largest contiguous university campus.  With 8180 acres (96 times the size of Disneyland Park!) to explore, we enjoy an almost overwhelming abundance of physical resources.

I’m writing this blog to encourage YOU, Stanford students, to take advantage.

We’ve got just four years on this slice of paradise, and to prevent you from suffering an acute case of FOMO (in addition to mono from FMOTQ, God forbid), I’m beginning a blog series on some of the most incredible resources at Stanford that you’re probably not taking advantage of.  Read up, choose your favorites, and bask in the benefits of a Stanford-enriched existence.  I promise you will not be disappointed.


Hidden Treasures: Arizona Cactus Garden

Friday, July 16th, 2010

While Andrea is busy doing nothing in her cubicle this summer, I’ll be taking over her Hidden Treasures posts with a few of my personal favorites. And now that we’re almost halfway through the quarter (!), it’s the perfect time to explore the Arizona Cactus Garden. Yes, on campus. Not in Arizona.

"That's not a cactus, that's my-"

A panoramic view from the northeastern side of the garden.

The garden was first planted in the early 1880s by architect Rudolf Ulrich and was originally part of a much larger design (including, ironically, an artificial lake) that never came to be. In it’s heyday (i.e. such a long time ago that there was still such a thing as dating at Stanford) the garden was considered to be quite the place for “courting”: an old song goes, “Down by the cactus so silent and still/The Junior has come to the question at last/And love him? The maiden has promised she will/Until the long fever called living is past.” Awwww.

Pretty flower!

Sweet-lookin' flower.

Being a tour guide has its advantages, among them the ability to (get paid to) go on tours of places like MemChu and the Cactus Garden to ‘enhance our knowledge of campus.’ Our tour guide was Christy Smith, who coordinates and helps maintain the garden with a staff of volunteers. She took us around the garden and explained how it had evolved over the years, especially its relatively recent restoration after being effectively abandoned during WWII. She showed us a pretty stunning variety of cacti, from plants that are used to derive itching powder to a cluster of flowers covered in self-manufactured white powder to protect them from the sun. I’m no bio major, but plants that make their own sunscreen is pretty freakin’ cool.

and Megan Moroney!

Arizona Garden Coordinator Christy Smith

The moral of the story is that if you haven’t been to the Cactus Garden, go. Seriously. Right now. There’s no reason not to. Unless it’s nighttime and you’re scared (pansy…). It’s a truly beautiful place that looks unlike almost anything else I’ve seen. You can find a map of the garden here, as well as a campus map highlighting its location here. I’ve uploaded all of the photos I took to a Flickr page here.

If you’re interested in checking out other cool nature resources on campus, try these links:  treesbirdsgroundskeeping , Jasper Ridge, and other horticultural points of interest (see also the TUSB post about fruit and nut trees on campus, though it’s somewhat inaccurate).  If you’d like to volunteer at the Cactus Garden, contact Christy Smith.

Double rainbow, all the way...

What are you doing reading this caption? Go!

Hidden Treasures: CCSR Cafe

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

The bustling CCSR cafe at lunchtime

My hidden treasures series would not be complete if it didn’t highlight one of the most important elements of student life at Stanford: food.  We are all aware of the not-so-secret Olives or the newly opened Coupa Cafe, but few have heard of Lutticken’s Deli.  Located on the ground floor of the architecturally awe-inspiring Center for Clinical Sciences Research (CCSR), the deli – also known as the CCSR Cafe – offers, in my opinion, a delectable lunchtime option.  Forget Subway, the CCSR Cafe can whip you up a mouthwatering sub that you can then sit and savor amidst the swaying bamboo and warm sunshine filtering into the outdoor lobby of the CCSR.  A perfect getaway from the Tressider (or in my case, Stern dining) scene, the CCSR Cafe is a gem – both for it’s economic and delicious mealtime options (I personally recommend the meatball sub, but that may be the Italian in me speaking…) and for its visually-stunning location.  Definitely worth the walk.

A night time view of the CCSR

Directions: Just head keep heading past the Clark Center (that building with the glass walls east of Campus Dr.) and it’ll be the second building on your left.  For superior directions, I suggest campus map (just type in CCSR as your search term).

Stanford’s Hidden Treasures: Jasper Ridge

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

In my three years at Stanford, I’ve come to discover just how much there IS to discover on our beautiful campus.  Like a lot of students, I tend to stick to my normal haunts without too much variation: Stern dining, my dorm, the gym, the Row, Hewlett 200.  On  the plus side I now know that I can leave lunch at exactly 1:11 pm and arrive perfectly on time for class in the Quad at 1:15 pm,  but the downside is I often miss taking in some of the many wonders our campus has to offer.  So in an effort to savor my last year at Stanford, I’ll be writing a series of posts for your viewing pleasure (or viewing apathy) illuminating some of the lesser-known and/or under-appreciated parts of Stanford.

0811_001 jrbp annual report

First on my list?  Japser Ridge Biological Preserve.  I first stumbled upon this gem, located about a 20-minute Marguerite ride from the Oval, as a result of my Bio 44Y class (or as I sometimes like to think of it, “Introduction to Nature Walks”).  At approximately 1,100 acres, Jasper Ridge constitutes of about 1/7 of Stanford’s total land and has been host to the research of 9 different Stanford departments in the past five years.  Although my natural inclination whilst wandering the trails was to keep my eyes glued to the ground for poison oak, I could help but be awestruck by the rolling hills, lush greenery, and sparkling lake down below.  With the wildflowers just about to burst into bloom, now is the best time to take advantage of this stunning biological preserve.  Contact Carolyn Taylor at (650) 851-6813 to schedule a tour.  And for the real nature enthusiasts out there, think about taking the two quarter sequence Bio 96A/B: The JRBP Docent Training program.  Whatever you do, just make sure you make your way to Jasper Ridge at least once before you graduate – the view alone is worth it.