For better or for worse, midterms are here, marking the demise of the deceivingly blissful beginning of Fall Quarter. While this transition carries with it many surprises and changes for frosh (like how blindingly fast the quarter system passes by), one hidden change hit me harder than I thought: the end of the free stuff.
Once upon a time, in the beautiful land of NSO, one innocent frosh wandered excitedly from event to event, trying desperately not to get lost and gathering free gifts along the way. She took her water bottles, bags, shirts and food with great glee, surprised and pleased at her good fortune. But alas, it was never meant to be, for with the conclusion of NSO came the realization that this frosh was not at Stanford just to gain material possessions; she was there to go to class and learn. So the frosh went to class, but she still believed in the giving spirit she had felt during NSO. She believed that this could never be the end of the free stuff.
The frosh was right, for a time. The activities fair provided her with some small treats that momentarily soothed the cravings in her soul. The career fair was like a tree full of free branded goods, ripe for the picking. Open houses for different clubs and student groups filled up her belly and her heart. And yet, before she knew it, the only thing that was being handed to her was the next assignment she had to complete. And even that wasn’t really given to her; her professors just told her to find it on Canvas.
The frosh was too wrapped up in studying for midterms and writing essays to know what she had lost until it was too late. Then one day, one of her free water bottles broke, and she realized she hadn’t gotten a free water bottle in weeks. It was a ridiculous thought, but after getting three free water bottles in a very short period of time, it was sad to think that there would be no more.
So the frosh took a moment to mourn her loss, trivial as it was, then realized that the end of free stuff meant the beginning of her life as a real college student. It meant the beginning of the next four years in which she would hopefully meet new people and make many lasting friendships. The frosh didn’t need free stuff to convince her that she liked it here. She loved Stanford from the moment she rode up Palm Drive during Admit Weekend. But the frosh thought it still wouldn’t hurt to have a little more free stuff here and there.
Contact Kiara Harding at kiluha ‘at’ stanford.edu.