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What they should tell you at NSO


Week 7. I’ve been trying not to count the weeks because graduation is rapidly approaching. As we get closer to this date, I’ve started to reflect upon my time at Stanford. I’ve grown a lot and am fairly happy with the person that I’ve become since New Student Orientation some three and a half years ago. There was definitely a great deal to learn — in both classrooms and in social settings. NSO was an emotionally tumultuous and overstimulating experience. I remember trying to absorb as much information as possible and trying to figure out which presentations were the most important, or what I really needed to do in order to “experience Stanford the right way.” As if there were just one right way to live at Stanford. I wish NSO had told me that.

As senior year approaches its end, I thought to ask some of my friends and classmates what they wish they had known at the start of fall quarter of freshman year. Of course, every individual’s experience is unique and this is by no means an exhaustive list, but I wanted to share. This place has taught me so much and I could stay for forty more years and still not feel as if I had fully absorbed all of the knowledge and lessons of this campus and the people here.

Jaye Boissiere ‘18: I wish I had been told that taking a quarter or more off is very doable and also that you have to explore different majors either by talking to people or reading to find what you actually might be interested in doing, as opposed to just listening to the masses and the buzz

Jamieson O’Marr ‘18: I learned how easy it was to get over committed, and I wish someone would have told me to take stock of my commitments and make sure that the things I am doing are because I want to do them.

Alec Villagomez ‘18:  I think that I have come up with two things that I wish Stanford had told me during NSO, or that I wish I had known in a deeper part of myself sooner.  

  1. I wish I knew that you can change who you are after freshman year. I think a lot of people come into freshman year with an idea of who they are, but then that kind of gets blown out by the people you find yourself around. I think there’s a mad panic that ensues trying to find out who you are here, which might be different than who you are away from here (just by virtue of this place, and these people, being different than elsewhere). But then people come to form an image of who they are here — which is fly. But then they feel they can never break that. But over the course of four years in an ordinary life everybody changes. So I suppose I wish that they had told me that who you become freshman year — when you’ve had to cut ties to everything you’ve known growing up for this new place that is maybe far from your other world — is not who you will always be. And it almost shouldn’t be.  
  2. I wish I knew that this place isn’t great for everyone. This hype and excitement we carry around Admit Weekend and NSO is unhealthy. There are problems here and shortcomings of the University and people, you, will have qualms. But you never feel like you can voice those things, because it feels like tapping too hard on the glass that’s playing the same loop of rally and cheers. And no one wants to be the kid at a party who breaks something. But then it builds and you just kind of drown in it, until all you got is pessimism to the place. So maybe an admission, or an honesty, around these times that not everything is going to make you want to run around and jump in fountains. At least not always with excitement.  

Peter Montgomery ‘18: On a light note, the one thing I learned at Stanford is the importance of breakfast and coffee. More seriously, I wish they had told me at NSO that “Stanford is not the most important thing that will happen in your life.”

I have some pretty smart friends. To add, I guess I would say that I wish that I knew more about hook-up culture and relationships at Stanford, especially in terms of consent. Even before I started at Stanford, I had heard about this hook-up culture. As a new freshman, I assumed that everyone was hooking up with people randomly at parties and that I should do the same. The first time I went to a boy’s dorm room was after an all-campus party. I barely knew him. I don’t even think I could say that I liked him, but I still went home with him. When we kissed on his bed, I knew I didn’t want to do anything else, and so I panicked and pretended that my roommate had called and was locked out and I had to go home. I ran back. The whole experience did not make me feel good.

In the past three years, I have learned that not everyone is engaging in this culture and no one should pressure you to do anything you do not want. And if you do choose to go home with someone, there should not be a presumed expectation that you would have to do anything sexual with them. Now, I am confident enough in myself to be able to say no and not feel the need to fabricate an excuse to get out of a situation. You never should have to provide a reason. Consent is a yes or a no. That is all that should be needed.

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Sophie Stuber is a senior from Aspen, Colorado, studying International Relations, French and Creative Writing. Sophie has written for the Daily since freshman year . This year, she spends a significant portion of her time working on her thesis, which is about designing an international legal framework to aid people forcibly displaced due to climate change. Aside from academics, Sophie loves reading, writing short stories, listening to NPR, and adventuring outside. Any of her friends will tell you that she loves to talk about the mountains, skiing, Atlantic articles, and Rebecca Solnit essays.