By Angie Lee
For students across all universities, there is an inherent desire to find one’s own place on campus. Stanford is no exception. Many students here excelled in their high school and made a definitive mark on their hometown, and coming to Stanford means having to start all over again.
As a freshman, I worried about finding my place on campus — the place where I belonged. Would it be my dorm? My classes? An extracurricular activity? Only five weeks into my time on the Farm, I am finding that it’s scattered around each of those places.
My Pre-Major Advisor, however, gave me a piece of advice during NSO that struck me. She told me to find a spot on campus – a literal, physical place – that was not my dorm, a classroom, nor a location for an extracurricular activity. A place that was not somewhere that I had to be, but rather, a place that I could choose to be when I wanted to escape from my day to day life. It will do you good, she promised.
After days of aimlessly wandering campus both with friends and alone, I discovered “my spot”: one of the silver tables outside of Y2E2’s Coupa Café after hours of operation. While not necessarily unique, my spot is a place that I can easily go to when the stuffiness and extremely thin walls of my dorm make it hard to focus on my work. It’s a place that I can visit in between class and choir rehearsal. It’s a place where I can enjoy the nice breeze of a California afternoon, while watching the sunset through the frame of palm trees and beautiful buildings. It’s a place where I can hear the occasional whir of bicycle wheels and chatter of friends walking by. It’s a place where I’m reminded that I’m blessed to be here.
One day, as I sat at this spot on the Engineering Quad reading my book for a class called Stories Everywhere, I smiled at the thought that I had, in a way, brought the humanities to the STEM side of the school. At that moment, my spot was a physical place on the earth where the humanities and STEM were merged together, merely because of the fact that I was sitting there, on the Engineering Quad, reading. This was, perhaps, a silly idea, but in that moment, I felt triumphant.
Finding a literal place on campus where I can go to read, do some homework, reflect, relax, have some alone time, bring my friends or marvel in little thoughts has been crucial to getting through life at Stanford so far. Finding a physical spot where I feel at peace, in awe and comfortable helps make the huge campus seem a lot smaller. Now, when I go to this spot that I have claimed, I feel that in this little corner of the school, of the world, I belong.
Maybe, once this spot no longer excites me, I will find a new spot. And in a while I’ll move to yet another one. At these spots, I will meet people, discover new things in my work and grow in my thoughts and into myself.
Then, at one point, perhaps I’ll stop searching for my place at Stanford, and instead I will proudly call Stanford my place. I can sense myself getting closer to this every day.
Contact Angie Lee at angielee ‘at’ stanford.edu.