It doesn’t become apparent exactly how much the weather can affect one’s mindset, especially
those of students at a rigorous university, until the sun comes out after a long stretch of cloudy, rainy skies. Cold wind and rain kept people locked inside studying and moping for most of winter quarter. The campus seemed almost completely abandoned as heavy course loads and summer application deadlines stood menacingly against the backdrop of a chilly, grey atmosphere, and created a state of constant distress that sat on the campus like a heavy, suffocating, sweat-inducing blanket.
Coming into this quarter, the sun finally peeked out from behind the clouds and students began emerging from the sheltered indoor crevices of libraries and dorm rooms like bugs scuttling out from under a rock that had been abruptly lifted off their backs. Everything seemed refreshing and new. The world of Stanford seemed to change entirely when finally illuminated by the light of the long-awaited sunshine that had been so confidently promised to us when we committed to a school in California. Here are some things that I noticed when the sun came out:
1. Moods lightened
What is perhaps the most obvious result of the sun coming out is how significantly people’s moods have improved. While sometimes this is due to the fact that people take lighter course loads spring quarter in the spirit of enjoying “Camp Stanford,” another factor in the almost unnerving amount of smiles plastered onto the faces of bikers, pedestrians, cafe dwellers and even library hermits can also be accredited to a new abundance of Vitamin D that is being sprinkled over campus with as much fervor as the pollen floating through the air and penetrating the deepest, itchiest parts of my eyeballs and nasal passages.
2. The Stanford population seems to double
When you walk around in the Spring, it’s almost shocking to note how much more densely populated the campus appears when everyone is spending time outside. Clusters of chattering friends swarm Coupa and Tressider, English majors sprawl out on Meier Green with their latest assigned readings in hand, people actually take the time to walk from place to place because it’s finally nice out. You might run into someone you haven’t seen since the beginning of the year, because that person, like many others, had holed up into intense hibernation for all of the dismal dark months of winter. Even those who are miserable and upset can now at least cry and mope outside in the nice weather.
3. Work motivation goes down as social life suddenly becomes ranked at top priority
Given how pleasant it is to spend time outside catching rays, spending a day at the beach, hiking through the woods or downing beers and dancing on outdoor tables all suddenly become a whole lot more appealing than staying inside to study. During the spring, work motivation decreases at an astounding, alarming rate, and is instead replaced by an emerging devotion to outdoor time, study breaks and campus social life and party culture (especially in the wake of “Rush” for Greek life organizations, which occurs at the very beginning of the quarter).
4. Dynamics improve
With less tension on the students from bad weather, too many units or the general morbidity experienced in the cursed time warp of winter quarter, dynamics that are wound up like Jack-in-the-Boxes over periods of great stress suddenly begin to ease up. Friendships that fizzle from individuals canceling plans because it was too cold or they were too depressed to go outside in the winter suddenly become revitalized when a trip to Coupa becomes ten times more inviting in the sunlight. Roommate-ships that intensified after too many breakdowns or developments of unnecessary drama regarding whose turn it was to vacuum when both sides were feeling high-strung settle back into pleasant interactions. New relationships develop as people become more energized and inclined to socialize. Spring is the time to reconnect and branch out.
Contact Clara Spars at cspars ‘at’ stanford.edu.