During the last week of 2018, I set aside some time for a lengthier personal reflection. Over the course of the upcoming year, I knew that I’d be transitioning from the life of a college student to working full-time in the business world, and I wanted to make the most of this end and beginning.
One of my goals for 2019 was to explore more of the world we live in. The ways I explored were quite varied: deeper conversations with friends and new acquaintances, saying “yes” to more things, and a very fun week spent on the Big Island of Hawaii, to name a few.
I want to focus in on the structure I first tried for my exploration goal: during my last quarter at Stanford, I committed to going on one “adventure” each week, something that would push me out of the comfort of ordinary routine.
What makes an “adventure”?
When we hear “adventure”, we often imagine far-off places, perilous travels, and other journeys into the unknown. Since I was a full-time student (and TA) for one more quarter, I wasn’t too keen on activities that involved traveling far away, nor did I actively want to seek out peril on top of midterms. As a result, I chose to scope my “adventure” definition to the final part, focusing on the “unknown” and expanding my horizons accordingly. I sought to do things that I might otherwise put off or not attempt, if it weren’t for the little extra push of committing to one adventure a week.
One of my simplest adventures was to go to a Men’s Volleyball game at Stanford and stay until someone kicked me out. Since I had friends on the team (and a couple more who had recently graduated, but stuck around to watch the games), it was great incentive to go. Over the evening hours, I was fascinated by how much the stadium transformed. I got to the game before most people arrived, watched as the stands filled, and continued to sit, chat with my friends, join in a conversation with the head coach, and watch as the volleyball nets were lowered and stadium slowly closed off.
Since I had stuck around, my friends also invited me to Senior Night. We headed off to a banquet celebrating all of the graduates, and I got a further glimpse of the lives of those scholar-athletes.
Scenes from the Caltrain
CalTrain offered me easy transportation to go a little further outside the Stanford radius, and present opportunities for serendipity. I hopped off the train at Burlingame on a whim one day, since I’d never gotten off at that station before. After a leisurely stroll down the street, I saw a sign for the Pez museum, and hurried over to check it out. Unfortunately, the museum had closed that day, but it just so happened that a music shop tucked away next door had an “Open” sign on its door. I had a great chat with the owner, learning about his time in Burlingame and the priceless (violin-themed) decoration he brought back from a trip to Berlin. Although the decoration wasn’t for sale, some violin cufflinks were, so I got a set to spruce up my musician attire.
Beyond the Bay
One of the biggest trips that quarter involved organizing a Ski Trip for the MS&E graduate students. Unlike previous trips to Tahoe, I decided (in the spirit of “adventure”) to strap on skis for the first time in a decade and head up to Heavenly. One group ski lesson and a few hours later, I graduated from bunny slopes and made my way down the Big Easy (which wasn’t that easy).
Ski Trip was also a big opportunity for me to plan out logistics. Buying food for the weekend, planning car schedules, finding a suitable AirBnB, and making sure we all stayed within our budget was a challenge, and I’m glad we were able to make it all work out.
10 Weeks, 10 Adventures
By the end of the quarter, I’d expanded my horizons around Northern California: more trips on the CalTrain without a plan, visiting a wonderful art museum that an old Stanford alum told me about, and a drive down to the insta-worthy Pulgas Water Temple (although it didn’t have water in it when I visited, much to my disappointment). All of these little adventures helped add balance to my last quarter at Stanford, opening up new ideas and opportunities that I would enjoy in the Spring.