Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or just thinking about switching to a more plant-based diet, you may be wondering: How am I going to eat once I get to college? Especially in Texas, a state known for its barbecue, you may wonder if the meat-free options here are just as delicious. If you have a meal plan at Rice, though, you don’t need to worry too much, as there are plant-based options in every servery for every meal on campus.
When I came to Rice one of my major fears was being homesick. Although my family was only as far away as Dallas, I was worried that I would lose the support system and familiarity that I had by living with them. I believed that although Rice had a “culture of care” it could never have the true familiarity of family and friends that I had developed in my hometown in the 18 years I had been alive. I can now say after being at Rice for over eight weeks and coming off of Family Weekend that I have been proven wrong.
Rice has made me feel welcome ever since the first day I stepped on campus and provided me with a strong support system in the form of the variety of groups of friends I have found and Advisors that are always available to answer your questions. I have found my family in places such as my suite at Sid Richardson to my workplace at East West Tea. Rice honestly makes it harder to remain isolated as they do everything in their ability to find at least an Advisor to be a direct line of support. All new students at Rice go through an intense awesome experience known as O-Week which is a week of events and discussions with Advisors that leads to new friends and a game plan for the year to come. My O-Week experience started with the introduction to my O week group and five Advisors. I have remained close with all of them ever since and I still go to these Advisors when I look into my classes for the future and overall help becoming a college student and understanding how to manage my time. Besides O-Week groups, each Residential college has its own culture that can make it become one big family as well.
I belong to Sid Richardson College: statistically the tallest residential college and the smallest freshman population on campus. The freshmen are split among seven floors with each floor having its own culture and each having a residential health Advisor who is always available for any sort of complication be it mental or physical. My floor for example, has a family vibe due to the fact that we have a large dining room table and living room lobby space. Every night many of the freshmen on the floor gather to work together at the table sharing in one another’s company and stress over the work to be done. Even though we use the lobby as a place to study, knowing there are other people in a similar situation to me and are able to relate to what I am going through acts as a familiarity for me allowing me to talk to others about it. Continue reading
Having the city of Houston at your fingertips is one of the great things about being a student at Rice. There are so many great restaurants and places to explore, and a quick car ride or trip on the Metro can have you on an adventure in no time.
A unique place in Houston that I love to visit is called Discovery Green. Located in the middle of downtown, Discovery Green is a large park that holds fun events and exhibitions that are free to the public. If you take the Metro Rail, which has a stop right next to Rice’s campus, it’s only about a 15-20 minute ride. (Fun fact: Every Rice student is given a Metro card for free!)
A few weeks ago, an interactive art installation called “moonGARDEN” was held at Discovery Green, and some friends and I decided to check it out. The exhibition featured 22 large “orbs” spread throughout the park. As we walked through, these illuminated spheres changed colors and projected images related to Houston’s history. We got a lot of really cool pictures, and enjoyed getting to interact with this one-of-a-kind exhibit. (While we were there exploring, we also stumbled upon a group of poetry writers who wrote poems for us on the spot, which was an unexpected surprise.)
Rice provides its students with a variety of opportunities to get off campus and explore. One program in particular, run by a club on campus called Rice Program Council, is called “Passport to Houston”. This program provides students with free admission to Houston museums, recommendations for restaurants, and tickets to sporting events, cultural festivals, performances, and so much more!
Though Rice students often have trouble making it out “beyond the hedges”, making a trip off campus with friends to eat, shop, volunteer, etc. is a great way to unwind from the stress that comes with being a college student. With one of the largest cities in the country as Rice’s backdrop, we truly have endless opportunities!
It is inevitable that transitioning into college will be difficult for at least some of the incoming freshman class. While this difficulty can be caused by a variety of factors, such as homesickness, acclimatizing to a new environment, and social networking, I think that having to adapt oneself to the fast-paced, rigorous curricula offered at Rice and the work rhythm of a college student constitutes one of the bigger challenges for many. To exemplify this, not even midway through my first semester my friends and I had already agreed that high school was such a joke and were laughing at our past selves for whining about school at all.
Almost always, new Rice students will come in with different levels of preparation although they are all highly qualified, and some will find themselves living in a dreamlike state during the first semester. This is not uncommon at all, so there is nothing to be ashamed of if you feel that way. However, I believe that the more quickly new students adjust themselves to college-level rigor, the earlier they can begin to reap the benefits of a college education. So here are some tips for you to start getting comfortable with the life of a college student once you become one:
- Be sure to challenge your limits, but don’t stretch them too far. It is always good to get ahead and push the prerequisites out of the way, but not everybody is built to handle 6 (or even 7) time-intensive classes right off the bat. Be ambitious and feel free to try things out: take a lot of courses and find out what you like! But whenever it gets too overwhelming, don’t feel pressured to back down. You have time to make up for it. Yes, you actually do. Also, GPA is important (or perhaps not, you decide), and you probably would want to optimize your schedule for the best outcome.
- I was quite a slacker last year and frequently put off stuff until the last minute—don’t do that. When you have time, get your homework done. Do your assigned reading. Don’t be me and start prepping for every exam the night (or two nights, sometimes) before. I was all right in the end, but I’m not sure if my study habits were healthy at all. You may not believe this, but getting things several days ahead of time actually makes you feel good, confident, free, and in control. You will find the ability to frontload efficiently to be a crucial skill as you begin to take more major courses.
- Manage your time wisely. Many of you might think this is easy but it usually isn’t that simple. We humans are born to be imperfect and readily access excuses for wasting time. Make yourself a plan, an agenda—whatever it is—and adhere to it. This not only helps you get things done, but it also provides a sense of being organized and on track, which is integral to your work rhythm.
- Release your excess stress. A moderate dosage of stress keeps you functional and motivated, but too much of it can be troublesome for your physical and mental soundness. Get involved in extracurricular activities and make more friends! Find out about entertainment events on campus! Go grab some bites in H-Town! Whatever you do, be sure to maintain a good balance between working and having fun so that you can stay operational while being happy.
It is important that you establish your own work rhythms quickly upon entering college. Being comfortable is always better than getting caught up in confusion and disorientation. I’m sure that most of you already know these things, but I thought that having these tips out here could remind you of their importance and help with getting you on the road. Welcome to college, and good luck!
Dealing with a seventeen hour time difference between Houston and New Zealand, severely awkward small talk with new people, and an exhausting, action-packed O-Week, I honestly struggled when I first arrived at Rice.
Amidst all the struggle, questions of ‘What if’ began to formulate in my head as I lay down in bed after an entire day of nonstop O-Week presentations and activities: “What if I chose to attend college closer to home?”, “What if I’m the only person who feels this way?”, and most importantly, “What if it doesn’t ever get better?”. Honestly, I was not in too great of a mental space at all.
But I’m glad to be able to say that things started to get much better once one of my O-Week moms, Erin, invited me to New Life Fellowship, a Christian fellowship group at Rice. Joining the group allowed me to momentarily get away from the quick pace of school, have deeper conversations about subject matters I value, and receive all the support I needed to adjust to Rice. I slowly grew the determination to build stronger relationships with people outside of church, embrace the college’s lively atmosphere, and ultimately become more involved in the tightly-knitted community. I could see myself slowly transitioning from an international student who felt like he would never fit in at Rice to a student who could call Rice his home and call his friends his family.
Joining a religious fellowship at Rice may be something you’re interested in or something you would never decide to do. But because of the multitude of really interesting academically-oriented clubs, I feel like it’s extremely easy to forget the importance of finding a group of people who will be there for you during rough times, which in my case, is my house church. Although I’ve been here for only seven weeks, I know that these people will always have my back through thick and thin, mentor me throughout school, and make my Rice journey so much more enjoyable for many more weeks to come.
As an out-of-state student, if you had told me I’d be spending my first summer after freshman year still in Houston I would’ve thought you were crazy. Especially after having gone through O-Week and knowing how brutal Houston summers are. But after my friends and I all landed internships in the area, the decision to stay was an easy one.
First things first: Houston’s reputation for heat is one it has rightfully earned. Real feel was easily over 100 degrees each day, and the humidity made it feel as though you had to wade through the air. This isn’t quite as bad as it sounds, though, since you spend most of your time inside anyway (where the AC is wonderfully cold).
What I found most rewarding about spending the summer in Houston, and I think this holds true for spending the summer away from home in any location, is that you have so much free time to explore. Sure, you’re busy with that 9-5 grind during the day, but you have virtually no obligations at night and on the weekends. We tried so many cool restaurants (I’m talking about you, Kura Revolving Sushi and Dak & Bop), took a weekend trip to Austin, wandered through the Galleria and Hermann Park at leisure. The point is, you have the opportunity to dive deep into an entirely new city and culture, and it’s something I’d recommend every student try at least once during their four years at Rice.