I’m Done with My Life: Welcome to Stanford!

Opinion by Camira Powell
Sept. 27, 2011, 12:27 a.m.

I’m Done with My Life: Welcome to Stanford!Whether you’re a freshman still getting lost around campus (admit it, you know you are) or an upperclassman who has been around for a minute, I know by now you’re sick of hearing it: “Welcome to Stanford!” Hopefully I’ll be the last person who’ll say that to you, but you and I both know that’s not true. But admit it, you’re as happy to be on campus as Stanford is to see you return. And take it from someone who spent her entire summer working on campus; things just aren’t the same without you guys (insert sad face).

Anyone at Stanford between commencement and convocation can testify to the fact that campus was far from deserted. No matter where I turned, I saw people. For months, the campus was teeming with socially inept kids, smug teens and over-aged adults reliving their youth. And these intruders were everywhere —  Wilbur, Stern, the CoHo, Jamba Juice; a few of them even found their way to Olives. Actually, for most of June, July and early August, Stanford was bombarded with visitors. Did you know that about 20,000 people come through Stanford during the summer? Of course that isn’t all at once, but that’s still a staggering amount considering our undergraduate population hovers around 6,000.

After finishing an academic year that didn’t want to end (thanks, sophomore slump), I couldn’t understand why people were so happy to be at Stanford. I was just here to work, as my only alternative was spending another summer in Indiana watching “The Price is Right” with my grandma and being used for free babysitting. Instead, I spent hours each week passing out room keys and fobs (don’t ask). I saw parents who drove their children from Florida to California for an (overpriced) week-long program about the joys of reading. Some musicians traveled from London to attend a 10-day jazz class. And Asian tourists took my picture at least once a day. Upon arriving at Stanford, people of all ages ran around like they were at Magic Mountain wrapped up in Disneyland. Trust me, you don’t know what excitement is until you’ve watched a pack of 10-year-old boys walk into a dining hall.

I know Stanford looks great on paper. I’m not going to bother listing a bunch of statistics about why we’re amazing (you know, the usual stuff about having the No. 2 law school in the country, a ridiculously competitive admit rate of 7.1 percent  and an Orange Bowl-winning football team) — it’s all Google-able. That’s not the point; rather, it’s the sad realization that somewhere between chanting your little heart out at NSO and becoming a dreaded upperclassman, you get jaded.

Seeing all of these non-Stanford people’s enthusiasm about everything, I decided to take off my cardinal-colored glasses and looked at the Farm as if I had never seen it before.  And that’s when it hit me: Stanford is a great tourist destination. And I mean that in the most sincere, best way possible. Think about it: tourists tend to go places that are interesting, fun, educational, beautiful, renowned, historical or unique. That basically sums us up, aside from a few adjectives. We live where others want to be. And why do they want to be here? Because of us, of course. Okay, that does sound a little egotistical and there are a lot of other reasons to want to come to Stanford, but we are still a big draw. Stanford attracts a unique blend of individuals who are driven, but also laid back. Talented yet unpretentious — our uniqueness is what gives Stanford its liveliness. That’s what makes it so special, and that’s why people are so happy to be here. Over time, it’s easy to forget all the positives and just see the problems. But with a little distance — or overexposure, in my case — you can see all the reasons why you fell in love in the first place.

So for the last time (I lied, I can’t resist): Welcome to Stanford! We missed you (insert happy face).

Want Camira to give you a tour? Sorry, she’s away, but you can still send her your thoughts at [email protected].


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