Free T-Shirt Complex

The more time you spend at Rice, the more free T-shirts you accumulate. Although they may mostly be blue and gray, your rainbow of T-shirts will show a good idea of your time spent here, and at the end of your four years, they will be able to tell you what is important to you. Though you are allowed to keep all 65 shirts you will have accumulated, most likely you won’t actually do so. There will be one pile that goes to the clothing donation box that Rice has at the end of each year, 20 that go to a loved one to be made into a T-Shirt Quilt, and the three that you will wear proudly until the end of time. These 23 T-shirts will show you your best memories, and everyone’s quilt is filled with different T-shirts.

Welcome Back Day T-shirts

This is the most popular T-shirt at Rice. At the festival put on by the Rice Program Council the day before classes start each year, this T-shirt is handed out to the vast majority of students on campus. This also means that you will not be able to escape this shirt. Someone will be wearing it every single day of the next however many years you have left. However, no matter how tired of this shirt you become, you will feel attached to it. This shirt is a physical common bond between you and every other student on campus. This shirt is where it all started (and this shirt is also served with incredible food at the festival). You will have a glimpse of nostalgia in your eye as you give this t-shirt up for donation, because although it carries memories, the memories that you make over your time at Rice have forged stronger bonds than any shirt ever could.


The T-shirt that will never be its original color

This T-shirt will probably be worn the least out of the T-shirts on your quilt. It was worn once, you had a crazy-messy-fun time, and it is now gross. You can wash it as many times as you want to, but not even the strongest of Tide-Pods will clean away the laughter that appears as a stain the size of the entire shirt. This shirt will statistically happen at Lovett College, who takes it upon themselves to host a Paint or Foam Party every year in the fall, and turn the campus-wide water balloon fight into a mud wrestling pit in the spring. Even though you may be scared to put it back on your body, it sure does look great in a quilt.


The Job Fair T-shirts

Sometimes, you have to do what you have to do. You see that soft, 100% cotton light blue tee and you muster up the guts to talk to a company you have no interest in because you WILL earn that shirt. There is no judgment, we’ve all been there, and most likely more than once. However, this shirt will never last. You’ll collect more career shirts at info sessions and through internships, displaying pride for your current company a few months at a time. But at that eighth career fair senior year, you aren’t going to muster anything up for a T-shirt, because you aren’t going to be at the Career Fair at all. You’ll be in your room, wearing one of the 3 T-shirts that you can’t bear to let go; because printed across the front is the name of the company you’ve always wanted to work for, and on your desk is a signed contract for your dream job.

The memories you make at Rice make getting dressed a whole lot more fun.

Rice University: The Hogwarts of the South

Have you seen or read the Harry Potter series? Well, just in case you haven’t, the only thing you need to know is that at the magical school of Hogwarts, where the story takes place, all the new students are sorted into four different houses (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin) based on personality. So what in the world does this have to do with anything?

Similar to the way Harry and his friends were sorted into one of the four different houses when they arrived at Hogwarts, you will be sorted into one of the 11 (the more the merrier) residential colleges (Baker, Wiess, Hanszen, Will Rice, Jones, Brown, Sid Richardson, Lovett, Martel, McMurtry, Duncan) when you matriculate at Rice.  The only difference is that it is completely random instead of personality-based (Yay! You will not need to be scared of having a talking hat abruptly yell over your head). Your residential college will become your home, your family, your support group, your social space, and much, much more.

Lovett College (my residential college)

Each residential college is extremely close knit and has its own culture and traditions that you will quickly learn once you arrive on campus in the fall. You will make many close friends at your college.  And do not worry about not fitting in because each college is so diverse that you will definitely find your niche no matter who you are. Regardless of the college you get placed in, by the end of O-Week, you will love your college so much that you will believe your college is the best one on campus.


My awesome O-Week Group at Lovett

Rice’s residential college system also provides endless resources for your success in college.  Each college has its own academic fellows, upperclassmen who can help you with your coursework. You will also be assigned to a peer academic advisor who can help you with planning your academics. Additionally, there are college masters and associates who are there to help if you have any concerns, so do not hesitate to reach out to them. The culture of care is truly alive at Rice, so if you need assistance of any sort, there are so many people here that would be more than happy to help you.

You have probably read enough about the different facets of Rice’s residential colleges, so let me address some of the related concerns that I have heard.

  • Making friends with people outside of the residential college: Do not worry! You will have plenty of opportunities to make friends from outside through clubs and classes.
  • No Greek Life: Although Rice does not have fraternities/sororities, the residential colleges provide the same close knit experience that many people look for through Greek life at other universities. The only difference is that everyone is guaranteed to be put in a college so there is no stress over rushing. Yay!

Like Hogwarts, Rice is undoubtedly a magical place. The residential college system provides an undergraduate experience that can be found in very few places. The inclusiveness of the colleges at Rice will integrate you into a large, caring family that will always be there to support you.  hey are what make Rice the perfect place for all of its students.

Club Fondy

The place where homework is finished moments before its deadline, where students study until wee hours into the dawn, where the printers never fail us, where bookshelves are filled to the brim containing knowledge still left to acquire, and where the study spaces have the perfect balance of comfort and light is where I spend most of my time: Fondren Library. This unofficial twelfth college, affectionately known as Club Fondy, is open to all Rice students and faculty almost 24/7. Located right in the Academic Quad at the heart of campus, students flock to the library at all hours of the day to complete their work in their favored quiet serene place.

My college journey only began a few weeks ago, but Fondren Library has quickly become one of my favorite places to go during the week when I need a silent place to finish my homework or study for exams that never seem to end. Each floor of Fondren has unique architecture, study spaces, and ambiance, all of which I would recommend exploring before deciding on your favorite floor. As a general trend, the noise level on each floor decreases as you move up the building, with sixth floor being the quietest – perfect for the students who need zero distractions to complete their work. Finding the best fit for you is crucial to help you get the most out of your library experience.

Fondren is not just your typical library with books, computers, and printers. It houses some of the most unique services found on campus, such as the Center for Written, Oral, and Visual Communication, where trained professionals help students improve essays and research papers, as well as ace medical school interviews; the Digital Media Commons (my favorite) where students can check out professional cameras and video cameras, use the video/photography studio, and create high quality posters, audio, video, and more; and the Brown Fine Arts Library with hundreds of thousands of books, periodicals, music scores, and more from around the world. Students can also find centers dedicated to GIS/Data Collection and preserving government information. It is one of the most versatile buildings on campus that everybody visits at least once, and most who do visit find it hard to leave.

Fondren Library, a familiar sight from the very heart of the campus

Every Student Has a Say: Being Part of Student Association

Athena with committee head from Academic Committee, Komal(currently SA internal vice president)

Athena with the committee head from the Academic Committee, Komal (currently SA internal vice president) at the SA recognition retreat.

I have been in Student Government throughout my three years in high school. So when I got into Rice, I knew that I would keep doing it.

There are two types of Student Governments at Rice: Rice-based and residential college-based. For Rice-based government, which we call Student Association (SA), the SA president, vice president, college presidents, senators and new student reps (NSRs) all have to attend our weekly meetings. I was an NSR for my residential college, Martel, when I was a freshman. And it was the most valuable experience I have ever had. I was able to participate in most of the important decisions made in Rice – for example, adding CCTV (closed-circuit television monitoring) at the university’s main entrance, and bike racks to prevent bikes from being stolen. I was encouraged to speak up about my personal opinions even as a freshman, because SA believes that every student has a say.

Besides attending weekly meetings, NSRs are also required to join a standing committee and work on their projects. There are five committees in total. Their names and visions can be found on I was in an academic committee and helped start a program called Meeting Your Professors. It was a monthly event that invited professors to have snacks with us and talk about their life before and after Rice. I really enjoyed doing it and helping build bonds between students and professors in a casual setting. I was also amazed by how much power I had as a freshman. Although the committee chairs did help me with planning and getting food to the event, I was given a lot of autonomy. I could decide how I wanted to advertise for it, which professors I wanted to invite, and how often I wanted to host the events. It was totally different from my experience with student government in high school. It was at Rice’s SA that I started to feel like I was given full responsibilities as an adult.

If you are not interested in Rice-based government, there is another choice: our residential colleges’ governments. For residential college-based government, class reps from each year (another way for freshman to get involved!), the residential college president, vice president, prime minister, senator and standing committee heads are also meeting weekly. But it mostly focuses on specific residential college-related topics. For my college, Martel, we would talk about topics such as how much money we will give to a special event held in our college and suggestions we have for renovating our kitchen. The residential college president and senator will also bring important topics that the SA is considering up to discussion within the college so that they can give feedback to the SA representing their college’s opinions.

Being part of Student Government was one of the most valuable experiences I had during my freshman year. It was quite different from high school, but I did enjoy it. I loved having my opinions respected and treated equally as those of upperclassmen, and I loved the freedom and support I was able to get when I was working on my project. I cannot think of another place that can offer me, a 19-year-old girl, such freedom and respect.

Meeting a Rice Alumnus Halfway Across the World


Repping Rice at Table Mountain, one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World.

As much as Rice is a smaller campus compared to other universities, this summer I learned how large-scale and wide-reaching Rice can be. I spent the summer doing a public health internship in Cape Town, South Africa as an International Ambassador for the Rice Gateway Program. The purpose of the program is to connect Rice students beyond their internships and gain perspectives from other professionals in their setting through interviews. One part of the program required me to interview a Rice alumnus who is living in the same city that I was in the summer. Surprisingly, Rice connected me with a Rice School of Architecture 1979 graduate. After getting in contact with her through email, I was able to visit her architecture studio in Woodstock, a suburb of Cape Town. As much as I was nervous interviewing my first subject in South Africa, she completely eased my worries and made me feel very much at home. Though I learned a lot about South African history and her academic and personal story while interviewing her, I also bonded a lot with her through Rice. Even though I was in a completely unfamiliar setting miles away by myself, she made me feel right at home in an unexpected way. It was so refreshing to talk to someone who loves Rice and its quirks just like I do. After the visit was over, we both agreed to keep each other updated and catch up with lunch in Cape Town before I left.

Right after my interview (the first of many meetings) with her!

One month after our first encounter, I visited her beautiful house in Cape Town when she invited me over for lunch with her family. She was nice enough to not only be a source of contact for me whenever I needed support in Cape Town, but she also wanted to maintain our relationship beyond my time in South Africa.

Through the Gateway Program, I was able to generate more significant relationships with my coworkers, local professors, and Rice alumni in a new country. My internship experience would not have been the same without it; it would have been more daunting to suddenly live in a different country for 2 months without learning from such interesting South Africans. I think that’s what Rice really values for its students—meaningful relationships from its close-knit community both on campus and beyond the hedge. I’m someone who really values interpersonal relationships, and Rice has certainly not disappointed me in that category. It amazes me to learn where so many alumni end up going all around the world, but I know that wherever I’ll go after I graduate my fellow Rice students will be there to support me.

Coincidentally, I ended up sitting in the same aisle as her on my flight when I went back home. Maybe Rice isn’t so small after all.

Going Abroad, and the You that Comes Home

This summer, while my friends worked internships and went on family vacations, I decided to spend more time doing one my favorite things: more school! I spent 6 weeks studying German in Berlin, on a program called Rice-in-Germany, which is one of many Rice-in-Country programs that send Rice students to the country of their target language for the sake of learning the language in the best possible way. Not only did I spend a lot of time in German classes, but I also lived with a host family, engaged in community service trips, explored Berlin, and, oh yeah, signed a pledge that I would only speak, read, write, and listen to German for 6 weeks. [protip: German Spotify is kind of limited, but German Harry Potter is every bit as magical.] The trip for me meant that I could go straight to third-year German in the fall, which means I’m that much closer to analyzing literature and looking at historical events in German. It also meant stepping into the location of some of the most thought-provoking events of the 20th century, turning my back on my native language and customs for six weeks, and humbling myself in a way that only study abroad can do. Seriously – when you need to activate your phone’s new SIM-card and the instructions are in a language you only sort of understand, that’s when you really learn to ask for help.


The Brandenburg Gate, every bit as hopeful and grand as it has been for so many people before me.

The first conversation I had in German with a German person in Germany happened when I stepped off an 8-hour flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt, and a man in a Lufthansa uniform was waiting with a sign advertising the gate numbers for transfer flights.

Me: Uh, hallo. Erika Schumacher? 11:45, Berlin?

Lufthansa Man: Ok, Erika Schumacher – 11:45, Berlin, super.

Then he told me my gate number, and I went on my way, but I was left with a lingering existential question: have I been saying my name wrong all my life?

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