For three months, I had no classes to rush off to, no midterms to study for, no work obligations, meetings, or deadlines for deliverables. My Master’s degree was complete, I had a full-time job lined up, and I found myself with the luxury of time.
Of course, I didn’t enter into my extended Spring Break with nothing to do. I was still tutoring students in the area for additional income, planning a couple trips, and performing with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra for one more quarter (it’s very hard to turn down a chance to play Mahler’s Symphony No. 5). These activities gave me some routine and structure to my weeks, so I wouldn’t just laze about all day, but there was still a wonderfully large period of time for me to spend as I saw fit.
I devoted one chunk of time towards enjoying a true “Camp Stanford”. Although I wasn’t officially a student anymore, I was still on campus twice a week for rehearsals, and oftentimes biked to campus on other days as well. With my free time, scheduling events and hangouts with friends only depended on their schedules, making it a lot easier to organize a lunch or a late-night rendezvous. I definitely prioritized meetups in the spring, enjoying wonderful conversations and celebrations with people on campus, and especially savoring the time I had left with those who would be moving farther away in the summer and fall.
This freedom also gave me the chance to build upon some side projects from the prior year. For a creative boost, I continued my paperclip challenge, making trades and meeting interesting people (including a hairdresser with bright blue hair and private in-home appointments with multiple CEOs in the area). On the technical side, I had some fun bringing a project from my Product Management course to life: a (mostly) functional prototype of our TeamSense app, designed to crowdsource information for building managers and help them stay on top of building issues. In addition to learning the orchestral rep for the quarter, I spent quiet afternoons at my house having fun with music composition, fiddling around with various melodies and genres.
My next chunk of time was spent enjoying the area around me. With my Caltrain Go Pass still active for a few more months, I took more trips up to SF: visiting friends working and living in the city, wandering the Embarcadero on a weekday, and attending several Stanford alumni events.
Where the Caltrain didn’t reach, a car came in handy. I loved going to beaches along the coast, savoring the lack of crowds on weekdays (especially when surfing in Pacifica). During one memorable Tuesday, I drove down to Santa Cruz in search of a swimming hole hidden in the woods. When I discovered that the area was blocked due to a large mudslide the other day, I decided to spend a little more time exploring the woods, then backtrack to my car and drive up the 1 until I found a place I wanted to stop and visit. When I happened to drive past Davenport Landing beach, I took it as a good sign to stop (a few of my friends had used this place as the name for their college band, and I had just attended one of their concerts a few nights prior). At the beach, I lounged on a blanket in the warm sun, played fetch with a stranger’s vivacious golden retriever, and learned how to hunt for beach glass with a pair of fairly active old ladies.
Finally, I went on three trips in the Spring: one surprise back home, one overnighter in wine country, and one week-long tropical adventure.
I had always wanted to do a “surprise” trip back home, but my parents are usually very on top of things. This time, I convinced my dad that I wasn’t going to be able to make it for Easter, and asked my mom to help me keep the surprise a secret. It was a surprise well worth keeping; Baba walked in Friday evening to find me, baking some traditional Lebanese Maamoul for the Easter festivities.
Back in the Bay, I took a road trip with a few friends (Caleb, Victor, and Dunchadhn) to wine country. Over a couple days, we visited two wineries (Inglenook and St. Supery), the Napa Valley Distillery (“first distillery in Napa since Prohibition”), and Farmstead (a phenomenal farm-to-table dining spot), as well as a fancy rooftop bar with views all around Napa.
Both the surprise back home and the Napa trip were very fun, but localized to the California area, and within the span of an extended weekend. For my third trip — a week-long excursion to the Big Island of Hawaii — I got to push my boundaries with more spontaneity and adventure across the Pacific.