OPINIONS

Oak Creek is the real deal

It’s the beginning of autumn quarter or, more likely, the quarter after your study abroad quarter. Your friend asks, “Where are you living this year?” for the second or third time this week. You let out a tiny sigh as you brace for the inevitably overblown reaction after you respond, “Oak Creek.”

Laughter, sympathy, consolation and your friend’s relief that he or she was not in your situation ensue—independently, collectively or perhaps even consecutively. You will probably try to create mutually agreed arrangements to camp out at your friend’s place during the weekends, which will never take place. If that is not an option, you desperately try to change the subject of the conversation or pretend you have a class to save yourself from your misery.

But like any scenario in life, there is an even better option: suck it up and look at the bright side. Whether you are the nerdiest of FroSoCo nerds or a frat boy socialite, Oak Creek is nothing short of paradise if you let it be.

First off, Oak Creek has amenities galore. You have a barely used gym steps away. A pool to cool a lover and yourself from the heat of the night. A hot tub to read your favorite book in. Tennis courts. Plentiful green grass. BBQ grills. A beautiful and comfortable lounge with never-ending beverages and sometimes chocolate chip cookies! There’s even a walking trail. If you squint your eyes and keep your head pointed in one direction, you can even trick yourself into thinking you are in a magical redwood forest. And at the end of the day, you can treat yourself to an effing sauna session!

In your room, the amenities continue. Full kitchen with an oven, stove, freezer, refrigerator and microwave. A dining room. A living room. Single rooms and a good chance that your one-room double will turn into a single due to study abroad or petitioning. A private bathroom. Private closets. And a balcony.

Oak Creek is more of a resort than an apartment complex. Renters actually pay around $20,000 to $40,000 to live here. Still, eventually your glee over the amenities will fade and you will hopefully find value in Oak Creek’s less tangible benefits.

You will be able to ride your bike. To get to class, it takes 10 minutes by cycling. You can also drive, but most of the time, driving is actually slower. Moreover, you can score up to $300 from Stanford Parking and Transportation Services’ commuter program by not registering for a parking permit. (Note: Even without a permit, you can still use your car to drive to campus on weekends and after 4 p.m. on weekdays.)

Cycling has secondary benefits. It’s obviously a good workout. In addition, because going back and forth to your room is a bit of a journey, you are more inclined to stay on campus and get work done. When I lived in Crothers last year, I found myself sneaking in a nap in between classes—even though I already had eight hours of sleep the night before. Weekends used to be catching up days for me, but now, it’s always a hiking trip, a concert or maybe a trip to LA. Even when my winter quarter was masochistically brutal (due to Dental Admissions Test studying), most of my winter quarter weekends were still trip days for me. The beauty of Oak Creek is that you have the power to make it more isolated than the frozen world of Hoth during weekdays and a classy party place during the weekends. If you want a GPA booster as well as a living space that can host legit dinners and parties, draw Oak Creek.

Depending on your situation, you may also be adding cooking skills to your repertoire. Do be aware that cooking for yourself on a daily basis is economically unfeasible. It works best when you coordinate with your fellow roommates. That being said, I frequently make pizzas for myself and I have perfected a couple of my favorite dishes. Also, at the beginning and end of the quarter, Edith Wu-Nguyen ’99 and John Wu ’95 MBA ’00—the two nicest RFs on campus—and their very cute toddler Elly usually host brunch and a first-come, first-served farmer’s market. You can request grocery items ranging from toilet paper to spinach. They’ll buy it and you can put it in your bag, free of charge! Other options include standard meal plans as well as a five-meal-per-week apartment meal plan. Another quick pro-tip: Sharpen your soliciting skills.

Now, Oak Creek definitely has its shortcomings…or does it? Only your best friends will be willing to make the trek up there regularly, and when they are willing, you will have to spend an unreasonable amount of time giving directions. So most times, you will be visiting others. This was especially the case for me and I noticed that despite living in Oak Creek, I was visiting friends or going to campus events nearly every day. After this year, I will never forget how meaningful a simple visit to a friend’s place can be. In many ways, living further away from campus made me closer to this school.

Contact Bryant Irawan at birawan@stanford.edu.