Discovering Houston

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!

Jacks on Jacks on Jacks

This past week was a particularly festive and upbeat time on campus. “Willy Week” is the week leading up to Beer Bike, and throughout this week, students are busy having fun (and procrastinating on homework). It’s great!

One of my favorite Willy Week traditions is the inter-college mischief that occurs leading up to Beer Bike morning. Throughout this week, members from each residential college will pull little pranks, called “jacks”, on the other colleges or on campus at large. Here are a few examples of “jacks” that have been done in the past:

  • Taking the hammocks from the Hangout, stringing them together, and outfitting Willy’s statue with a toga (which I may or may not have been a part of last year)
  • Sneaking into another college’s commons in the middle of the night and stealing all of their chairs
  • Making a Snapchat filter (last year, Lovett made a Snapchat filter that showed up over Sid that called us “Lovett’s Colony”)
  • Taking a building’s lettering and rearranging it to spell something else
  • Covering another college’s quad with plastic forks

This year, my residential college, Sid Richardson College, pulled off a particularly impressive “jack” that even got a shoutout from the Dean of Undergraduates, known to us as “Dean Hutch”.

Sid is the tallest residential college on campus. However, since Sid is built as a large tower, it doesn’t possess a central quad like a lot of the other colleges, like Martel or McMurtry. Other colleges use their quads as an outdoor hangout space, especially on Friday afternoons as a way to wind down after a busy week. To finally give Sid a quad of its own, some sneaky Sidizens went from college to college in the middle of the night. They stole hammocks, trampolines, and benches that other colleges had in their quads. They then took this furniture and put it in the middle of the main academic quad, giving Sid its own makeshift “quad” to use during Willy Week!

The Willy Week “Sid Quad”!

Every time I walked to class, I saw my friends lounging on hammocks and jumping on trampolines. I even took advantage of the nice weather one day to do some homework on one of the picnic tables, with Willy’s statue looking on!

These “jacks” are a fun way to stir up that friendly residential college rivalry that comes to a head during the races on Beer Bike. I think they really highlight the creativity and unconventional wisdom of the Rice student body, and each year, I can’t wait to see what Rice students will come up with next. It’s one of the little things that makes Rice a truly unique place, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be!

Exploring Your Future at Rice

If you’re anything like me, you have a hard time making up your mind. I often find a way to make even little decisions, like which servery I should go to for dinner, much more complicated than they need to be. This makes even bigger ones, like what to major in or what I want to do after I graduate, even harder for me to make. Thankfully, Rice offers a variety of resources for students like me, who are still figuring it all out.

The career center is a great place to visit if you’re looking for an internship, need help writing a cover letter and editing your resume, or are looking for more information on a specific career path that you’re interested in. One program in particular that I had the chance to participate in earlier this year is their “Externship Program”. During winter break and spring break, Rice alumni offer shadowing sessions for current Rice students that are interested in working for specific companies or are looking to learn more about a certain career field. The career center allows students to apply to these 1-3 day shadowing opportunities and then matches you to an alum based on your interests. From architecture, to finance, to consulting, to law, there are a plethora of opportunities for students to explore!

I was interested in learning more about a career in finance/economics, and was able to shadow a Rice alum who works for Southwest Airlines. In the two days that I spent at their headquarters in Dallas, I had the chance to meet with people from various departments within Southwest, got a behind-the-scenes tour of Love Field airport, and learned more about what a future career in that field would look like.

Here’s a picture of me and the other externs on the tarmac at Love Field!

I really enjoyed this experience, and felt like I walked away from it with a much better understanding of what a career in finance/economics entails. Additionally, it was great getting to speak to the alum about his memories from Rice, as well as seek his advice on what steps I should take in order to prepare for the future.

Rice offers one-of-a-kind resources for its students who are looking to learn more about what paths they could take after graduation. There are so many opportunities at your fingertips when you’re an Owl, and being able to have experiences like this is why I am so grateful to call Rice home!

OWLways Learning, OWLways Exploring

One of the things that I love about Rice is the academic freedom that we possess as students. Even though I am majoring in math and economics, I am still able to take classes in a wide array of subjects I’m curious about.

This semester, I decided to take a leap of faith and enrolled in an architecture course. The Rice School of Architecture is one of the highest-ranked programs in the country, so naturally, I was curious to get a glimpse of what being an “archi” was all about. The only time that I had ever been in the architecture building during my freshman year was for Architectronica (a party put on within the architecture school where they play electronic music that’s in sync with a light show – it’s really cool!). I wanted to take advantage of the fact that, as a Rice student, I had the opportunity to take a class from such a well-respected program.

Architectronica is the only party thrown by a major/school on campus! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLz5h8cNoC0

From Le Corbusier to Frank Lloyd Wright, and from classicism to postmodernism, we have looked at a wide array of architects, their works, and their varied approaches to design. Our most recent assignment was to build an architectural model out of cardstock. This was a great creative outlet that allowed me to “think like an architect”, something I had never done before!

Most importantly, this class has made me think about the built world in a completely different way. A prime example of this occurred last week, when my class took advantage of some nice weather to explore the architecture on campus. We stopped to examine Herring Hall, one of the humanities and social sciences buildings. I had been in this building many times for class and walked by it on my daily treks from my dorm to Fondren Library. Never giving it much thought, I always considered it to be “just another building on campus.” However, as we walked around its exterior, I began to take note of certain features of the building that I had never noticed before. The patterns in the colored bricks, the strange placement of certain windows, and the half-finished columns, all things I had never given much thought to, suddenly stood out to me as we related elements of Herring Hall’s design to the theories and styles that we discussed in lecture.

Herring Hall’s outdoor courtyard.

This class, like most others I have taken, has shown me that Rice can help you see the world in brand new ways. Students are encouraged to be intellectually curious, and this is one of the things that makes the Rice experience truly one-of-a-kind. Regardless of where your interests lie, you’re free to be the “architect” of your own future here!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

For the last week, campus has been in good spirits, even though many of us are going through a second round of midterms. Why, you might ask? Two words: Willy Week!

Willy Week is the week leading up to Beer Bike, an annual Rice tradition where a day of festivities culminates with a bike race between teams from the residential colleges. There’s a men’s team, a women’s team, and a team for alumni from each college; so if you like biking, you can join your college’s bike team once you get to campus! Throughout Willy Week, the residential colleges host activities for students to enjoy themselves and forget about the stress of classwork and exams. It’s a week full of special events, fun and games, and water balloons (more on the water balloons later).

My residential college, Sid Rich, put on its own share of activities. This year, these included the annual Mr. Sid pageant, where 5 male Sidizens competed for the top prize. We also had a private dinner service one evening where we got to dress up and bond over fancy food. My favorite Sid Willy Week tradition, however, was the annual Orc Raid.

For Orc Raid, me and a bunch of other Sidizens assembled outside. Wearing all black, we covered ourselves in black and red paint, Sid’s college colors. Then, as a mob, we ran all over campus, infiltrating the commons of other colleges. By shouting cheers and jumping on tables, we asserted our dominance as the best residential college (in our eyes at least). Along the way, we got a few weird looks from people doing homework and even joined a group of people in the Will Rice commons singing karaoke (because, let’s be real, Adele never fails to bring everyone together).

Sid infiltrates Duncan commons!

There is a friendly rivalry between all the colleges about which one truly is the best. While there really is no answer to this question, Rice students are pretty partial to the one they call home. This rivalry is especially magnified during Willy Week, and reaches its peak come Beer Bike morning.

Here’s where the water balloons come into play. Throughout Willy Week, students spend time between classes filling up water balloons. Then, as the final activity before the bike races on the morning of Beer Bike, thousands of students take their positions around the perimeter of a big field for (unofficially) the world’s largest water balloon fight. It’s a Hunger-Games-esque battle where everyone gets soaking wet (but it’s so much fun getting to throw balloons at your friends!).

Tens of thousands of balloons are thrown in a matter of minutes!

Throughout the week, I was able to make lasting memories with my friends and fall even more in love with Rice and its unique traditions. Getting to experience Willy Week and Beer Bike for myself made me understand why it’s nicknamed Christmas. There’s definitely a reason why something so special only comes once each year.

Rice Owls, Then and Now

One of the RAs at my residential college works in the Research Center at Fondren Library. A few weeks ago, she gave me and a few other Sidizens a highlights tour of some of her favorite things in the library archives. While we were there, we got to see all kinds of treasures. These included:

  • A nurse’s uniform from World War I
  • A world map from the 1300s (although you would definitely get lost if you used it for directions)
  • Possible X-rays of Hitler’s skull
  • A book with a cover that may or may not have been made from human skin (spooky!)
  • The first folio of Shakespeare’s works

Getting to turn through the pages of books written hundreds of years before I was born made me feel like I was traveling back in time. I couldn’t believe that these treasures had only been a few floors below me while I worked on assignments at the library late into the night!

The first folio of Shakespeare’s works was compiled in 1623, almost 300 years before Rice was founded.

Of all of the things that I was able to see, however, I was particularly intrigued by the Rice-related items in the archive collection. Amidst the glimpses of the past on display were old yearbooks and photographs taken during the university’s early days. It’s amazing to see how much larger and how much more diverse our campus has become over the years. With the university’s founding in 1912, almost none of the buildings that I go into each day existed, and there were about the same number of people in my Econ class last semester as there were in the first graduating class.

Pictures from when Sid Rich first opened in 1971. The building was dedicated by LBJ!

As I went forward in time from the university’s founding, I saw class sizes grow, watched campus expand, and witnessed an increase in diversity on campus. Along the way, I got to see pictures of my own residential college, Sid Rich, from when it first opened in 1971. As the pictures moved from black and white to color, I watched hairstyles and fashion change. Different faces occupied the photographs taken year after year. However, throughout the tremendous growth and positive change that Rice has experienced, the unconventional wisdom of its student body has remained an integral part of the campus culture. Going through the archives that night made me realize that Rice has always been committed to educating its students so that they can change the world for the better. The Rice experience is truly life-changing, and there are so many opportunities waiting here for you to discover!