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Hunting for caterpillars

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“Spring quarter” and “caterpillars.” The two are basically synonymous … or so I thought. Despite hearing countless stories from upperclassmen about this springtime terror during my first two quarters at Stanford, I could barely wait to take part in this communal hatred of the caterpillars on campus. Feeling left out from this inherent experience as a student here, I looked forward to spring quarter as a chance to endure this phenomenon for the first time.

But for me, that never happened. As the end of my frosh spring quarter approaches, I have yet to see a single caterpillar on campus. Yes, I do go outside, and yes, I do visit all the places on campus that are the supposed favorites of our local springtime inhabitants. I have even been on multiple adventures around campus specifically to discover one of these creatures. Regardless of how much time I spend searching for a caterpillar, all of my quests have been unsuccessful.

After never observing one of these insects during the first few weeks of spring quarter, I actually questioned whether this phenomenon was a conspiracy — a plot to diminish the optimism that first-year students have as they look toward the spring. But despite the broad intelligence that makes up the student body, I know that orchestrating the scheme of the caterpillars would be too big a task. Everyone around me seems to have traumatic stories after an encounter with these campus conquerors. Whether an army overtook their hammock or breached the security of their dorm room, my friends share this experience that seems to be an inherent part of being a student at Stanford.

Regardless of how irritating the creatures may be, the exposure to the caterpillar reign on campus that every student seems to have is absent from my time here at Stanford. Although I may be glad to have not suffered through the uncomfortable pestering from these insects, I still have yet to take part in this necessary right of passage. While this may seem overdramatic, seeing a spring quarter caterpillar will remain on the top of my Stanford bucket list.

Contact Frances Schroeder at fschroe ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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