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Spending Thanksgiving at Stanford? Here’s how to stay occupied

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Thanksgiving Break is coming right around the corner, and I am eagerly counting down the days until I can shut off “school mode Matt.” Once Nov. 25 arrives (and not Nov. 24, because there is a 98% I will be procrastinating up until that day, submitting my assignments at 11:59 p.m.), I will live in a place demanding zero obligations of me; I will live in a mythical, magical time where my Google Calendar displays only void, blank slots. 

That said, just as I can predict that I will likely procrastinate before Nov. 25, I can also predict that (eventually) I will grow bored of all the unstructured, free time during Thanksgiving Break at Stanford. For this reason, I compiled a simple, comprehensive list of Thanksgiving Break ideas to survey, engage in and check off your list: enjoy, my friends!

  • Go fruit picking around campus
    • As a fruit-eating enthusiast and self-proclaimed connoisseur, I was starstruck to walk onto Stanford’s campus, immersed in a sprawling 8,180-acre garden of figs, oranges and strawberry tree fruits –– which, in contrast to the name, are not actually strawberries! If you get hungry or in a “snacky” mood during Thanksgiving Break, try checking out this (slightly outdated) map of edible fruits around campus. 
  • Watch the sunset, then stargaze at Lake Lag
    • I don’t know about you, but I rarely allow myself to simply sit down and watch a quality sunset –– even though I am given the same opportunity 365 days a year; I deprive myself of the same beauty when it comes to stargazing. Don’t be like me: go watch the sunset and go stargazing at Lake Lag! (Just remember, however, that because of daylight savings time adjustments, the sun is expected to set at 4:50 p.m. during most of Thanksgiving Break’s days.)
  • Host a “Chopped” cooking competition with friends
    • Bike out to Trader Joe’s at Town and Country and buy 12 food items (don’t forget to include sauces, desserts and meats in your shopping cart!). Return to campus and “shuffle” your items, creating a wacky combination of four ingredients that you will place in three baskets or boxes. Bring four friends over to your dorm and time them to create an appetizer, main entrée and dessert. You be the judge! 
  • Listen to a podcast/music album on a “Coin-Flip Campus Tour”
    • For the more introspective Stanford student, take some time out of your day to sift through that new album you’ve always wanted to explore but haven’t found the time to get through (for me, that is Kanye West’s new album “Jesus is King”). If you would like to listen to something more informative or educational, try listening to an NPR podcast or a Duolingo language podcast. Once you decide what to listen to, tour campus with a coin in your pocket. When you reach a dead end, flip a coin to decide what direction to walk in next (ex: heads means left turn; tails means right turn). 
  • Schedule a Stanford walking tour
    • Speaking of walking, schedule a walking tour with the Stanford Visitor Center. So what that you are already a Stanford student, or if you have already attended a walking tour in the past? You may still benefit from the tour by reviewing key campus locations, as well as some fun historical facts about the place you live. Besides, every campus tour is unique and run by different tour guides. (Another fun idea is to heckle a person giving a tour –– but only if he or she is your friend!)
  • Leave campus and go out into Palo Alto or San Francisco
    • Go out into the city; get out of the Stanford bubble; get out into “the real world.” The possibility of off-campus ideas near Palo Alto are literally limitless: Half Moon Bay, Googleplex, Castle Rock State Park, etc. If you’d rather enjoy an evening outing in the city, check out “Hamilton” (Saturday at 7 p.m.), Bad Bunny (Sunday at 7 p.m.), The Chainsmokers with 5 Seconds of Summer (Nov. 29 at 7 p.m.). 
  • Study for finals 
    • After all –– regardless of whether or not you feel like it during Thanksgiving Break –– you are still a Stanford student, and before you know it, you will have to flip your switch back to “school mode” and sit in a proctored exam room, give an oral language presentation in front of your class or maybe even vigorously finish your final paper on Sunday night at 11:58 p.m. to avoid missing the deadline. Simply put, maximize your fun during Thanksgiving Break (after all, the very essence of a “break” is a time of rest), but if time allows, also try to stay on top of your schoolwork. Why not balance fun and work? 

Honorary Mentions…

  • Visit Hoover Tower
    • The Hoover Tower website does not say the landmark will be closed during Thanksgiving Break; nor does it say it will be open. I’d suggest giving the iconic campus location a try regardless. 
  • Go fountain hopping
    • Try different fountains, from the popular Claw, Red Fountain, and MemAud Fountains to lesser-known fountains like the Schwab Fountain in the Schwab Residential Center for GSB students. Don’t forget to bring floaties!
  • Hit the gym
    • Even if you go only once during Thanksgiving Break, you are still caring for your well-being –– regardless of whether or not you decide to lift weights and swim, or play squash and chill. 
  • Self-care day 
    • Face masks, meditation, yoga, tea-making, suntan sessions. Enough said.  
  • Play Wii videogames with a large group 
    • With a large group of people, you can seldom go wrong with Super Smash Bros Brawl, Super Mario Kart, Wii Sports, FIFA. If you do not already own one of these games, it’s likely that someone in your dorm or a nearby dorm has one –– and, more often than not, they will be nice enough to lend you their copy. 
  • Complete a movie marathon
    • For popular “movie marathon movies,” try “Harry Potter,” “Star Wars,” and “Lord of the Rings.” For action junkies, watch “Avengers, X-Men,” and “James Bond.” For all y’all “old souls,” watch “Rocky” and “The Godfather” series. 

Contact Matthew Mettias at mmettias ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Matthew ("Matt") Mettias '23 writes for the Grind. He is from Aiea, Hawaii. His hobbies include taking care of his Chihuahua puppy; playing pickup basketball; and listening to Jawaiian, rap/hip-hop and 1960s music. Contact him at mmettias 'at' stanford.edu.