There is one consolation this time of the quarter, with exams and essays and presentations and group projects piling up — it is almost Thanksgiving break.
We are two weeks away from this necessary week off — a week with no classes to go to, no club meetings and, if your professors are moral, no assigned homework. People are purchasing tickets home, figuring out Uber and Lyft carpools ahead of time, calling family to put in special food requests for Thanksgiving. All around me, I hear the questions: “Where are you going for Thanksgiving break?” and “What day are you going home?”
For students who are staying on campus for break, the excitement around Thanksgiving can feel a bit misplaced. I stayed on campus for Thanksgiving freshman year. I still remember how empty it was — no friends laughing down the hall, not nearly as many bikers. Yes, others stayed behind, but compared to how many people left, campus felt barren. I felt like I was in social isolation — like I had a quota of the minimum amount of social interaction I needed per day and it was not being met, since most of my closest friends had chosen to go home.
Still, I had some of my best Stanford experiences that Thanksgiving. One night, after feeling particularly alone, I reached out to a friend I knew was on campus. She told me she felt isolated as well. When we met up later that night, we decided to get on the Marguerite and get off at random stops. We explored the city. We went to Walmart, because why not? We ate at a restaurant and got then boba afterwards. Thanksgiving was a learning experience for me that year. If I wanted to interact with people, I needed to reach out.
If you are staying on campus over break here are some things to consider doing.
Take CalTrain to San Francisco.
Taking CalTrain is much less expensive than taking an Uber or Lyft into the city. Grab some friends — even friends you do not know as well yet — and explore. You can go to Pier 39, the Exploratorium, Lombard Street, City Lights, SF MOMA, Ghirardelli Square, Whale Watching, eat in Chinatown or enjoy authentic sourdough bread, depending on your budget. If you want to do less touristy things, try something more specific to your particular interests — it’s just a Google search away. An important tip: make sure to bring a jacket, especially if you are going at night.
Go on a local adventure.
If you want to explore on campus, you can visit the places you have been meaning to see, but haven’t had time to (including the cactus garden, Cantor, the dish, etc.) Or you can simply ride your bike until you stumble upon a new potential study spot for when classes start again. I highly recommend using the Marguerite to explore Palo Alto 1) because it is easy to use and 2) because it is free.
Cook a mini-Thanksgiving meal in your dorm.
Cooking is a great way to connect with your dorm mates, with the exchange of recipes and the finished product at the end. Whatever you decide to make, whether it is a pumpkin pie or an entire Thanksgiving meal, it will bring you closer to the people you made it with.
FaceTime friends and family.
I find that one of the best ways to connect with family and friends back home is through FaceTime. Call a family member and say hello! Show them your dorm room. My friend and I schedule “tea dates” with each other, in which we both drink Earl Grey tea over FaceTime and catch each other up on our lives.
When you have ~100 pages of assigned reading a night, it’s hard to make time for books you actually want to read. This is when Thanksgiving break comes in. Give yourself a book budget, go to the bookstore and pick out a few books; or, perhaps even better, rent them from Green Library instead.
Go on a road trip.
Lastly, with enough planning, consider going on a road trip — for an afternoon, an entire day or for multiple days. You can listen to music with friends, dive deep into an audiobook or simply talk.
Whatever you choose to do, whether you are on campus or you head home over break, make sure that you take some time to reflect on how things are going for you here. Are you doing your best in your classes? Are you happy? Use this time before the last leg of midterms to recharge. Take care of yourself.
Contact Amanda Rizkalla at amariz ‘at’ stanford.edu