By Alex Riklin
“ALEX, Alex, WAKE UPPP.” I jolt awake, thinking it must be an earthquake or some sort of emergency. But no. It’s just ten virtual strangers who had climbed through the window of my residence and were now banging on my door and forcing me out of my much-needed sleep. In any other context, that would be illegal. But here at Stanford, this is apparently a necessary and fun custom for welcoming students into different communities on campus.
The first few seconds of the dreaded 6 a.m. rollouts can accurately be described, in my opinion, as hell on earth. Maybe the pain dulls slightly as you see the sun peaking through the palm trees, or as they distract you from your lack of sleep by feeding you doughnuts and coffee, or when those who are being rolled out leave and the noise eventually dies down. But even in the moments of sweet relief in which my eardrums are not being chastised with the torture of early morning yelling and door-beating, I still hear it incessantly replaying in my mind, over and over again.
Okay… so maybe I’m being slightly dramatic. As I embark on my fifth week as a Stanford frosh, I am now well accustomed to the rollouts. Despite their often unwelcome appearance, and the knowledge that they will probably never really stop, they, among other experiences, have taught me a lot about getting around on the Farm. I now often feel like something is missing when the first thing I hear in the morning isn’t that familiar chorus of voices mingled with loud knocking. Despite the initial suffering, rollouts have actually made me more flexible and willing to adjust to all that life at Stanford holds. I have taken them in my stride and learned to live and be content with the inevitability of my changing sleeping habits and morning routine.
Something perhaps slightly worse than being rolled out by the chamber orchestra or juggling club is being rolled out by paramedics in an ambulance after making that fateful decision to have just one more white claw at that K Sig party. This is maybe not the ideal way to get around campus, but what do I know, I’m just a freshman. Unless you have a spare $1800 just lying around ready to be used on a ride to the hospital, I would try to avoid this particular mode of transportation. And if you happen to be a deep sleeper who has had a bit too much to drink, instead of deciding to take a nap in the lounge a few feet away from your RF’s apartment, maybe think about making the trip up to your dorm room. Just a suggestion though.
And then we arrive at the topic of the simply delightful activity of biking on the Farm. “Biking,” I thought to myself before coming to Stanford, “how hard can that be? I’ve been doing it since I was seven.” Little did I know that biking around Stanford would be one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I was so blissfully ignorant of the perils to come when I happily glided out from the campus bike shop towards Stern, only to see my life flash before my eyes as a maniac on an electric scooter cut me off. Later that week at around 10 p.m., I had no idea where I was going when I was biking to an audition. So I pulled up the directions on Tree Maps, and just as I had started getting the hang of this whole biking-while-looking-at-my-phone thing, I toppled into a bush on the side of the road. At this point, I was scratched up, frazzled and 40 minutes late for the audition, but somehow, something told me I had to still go. I owed it to myself.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that if biking is your chosen method of transportation, do not use Tree Maps at the same time unless you have a lot of experience — something that I was lacking. And another thing: no matter how cool you think other people look, do not try and bike with no hands until you’re really sure you can do it. Believe me.
I got into that group that I auditioned for, and I love it, after being so close to giving up and turning around. Moral of the story: don’t give up. Even if it’s pitch black, you have no bike light, you’ve already fallen and cried twice and you feel like the entire world is against you, you’ve gone through too much in the journey not to get to the destination. At the end of the day, I am literally only four weeks in, but in the month that I’ve been here, I already feel like I’ve grown so much, and I am constantly adapting so as to view my failures not as a negative, but instead as opportunities for growth. I still have a lot to learn about getting around on the Farm, but I’m finding my own way, slowly but surely. We’ve all got this, and we’re getting around just fine.
Contact Alex Riklin at ariklin ‘at’ stanford.edu