Handling the Houston Humidity

One thing you’ll quickly learn about Houston is that it’s humid. Even on the warmest of summer days, you can step outside and instantly feel all that moisture in that air clinging to your skin. Welcome to Houston!

I’m from Dallas, so I wasn’t used to the hot Houston summers when I first came here a year ago for O-Week. But Dallas is dry, unlike Houston, and the humidity took me by surprise. With all this humidity comes a lot of rain, and when it rains in Houston, it pours. I’m sure those of you reading from Houston are already quite used to this, but for those up north, it might take some getting used to. Instead of snowy winters, we have a rainy spring.

So here are my tips for prepping for the Houston weather:

  1. Bring an umbrella with you, always. Sometimes you’ll go to class, and on your way there, it’s beautifully sunny outside. Then, 50 minutes later when class has ended, you walk outside to find that it’s pouring outside. There’s nothing worse than not having your umbrella with you when you really need it, and believe me, running back to your room in the pouring rain is not fun – I learned this the hard way.
  2. Avoid the grove.  For those of you who don’t know, the grove, technically called the John and Anne Grove, is an walkway located in the South Colleges. It’s unpaved, and we all have a love-hate relationship with it. When it rains, there are huge muddy puddles in the grove, making it annoying to walk across. General life tip: don’t wear open-toed shoes on the grove if you can.
  3. Or, just get some rain boots! Is the grove the fastest path, but it’s too muddy outside to walk on it? Don’t worry, just get some nice rain boots. These are seriously useful, especially if you live in the South Colleges like I do.
  4. Get ready for some foggy glasses. There have been times where I step out of my nice, cold dorm to go somewhere outside, and my glasses instantly fog up. This isn’t really anything but a nuisance at most, but it took me by surprise since I was used to dry Dallas summers.

That being said, I still appreciate the rain. There’s nothing quite like stepping outside onto the Sid balconies while the rain falls down, enjoying a nice breeze outside and the quiet calm.

Also, watching people run to class without an umbrella is always entertaining.

A Homage to the Trees of Rice

As you may have known, Rice has a beautiful campus filled with memorable artistic structures and unique, Byzantine-styled buildings. However, when most visitors arrive on campus, this structural beauty is quickly overshadowed by the bountiful greenery that lies within the university grounds. A greenery that has allowed Rice to seamlessly become an acclaimed arboretum even while being located within the fourth largest city in the nation. Strikingly, it’s even been said that the number of trees on campus outnumber the entire undergraduate student population at Rice! This takes the designated “Tree Campus USA” title we got back in 2017 to an entirely different level.

As a student, I appreciate the almost ethereal sense of nature that the trees provide me with. They give shade to offset the sun’s heat in the summer months, a place for students to be able to relax or study, and, more importantly, they provide a home for Rice’s smaller residents: the squirrels. Each wooded path you may encounter portrays a different side of Rice—one which reminds you of your humanity and clears your mind from the transitory things in life that may be experienced. At around every corner, you will undoubtedly be greeted by one of over 4,300 trees on campus, each of which contain their own history by acting as symbols of significance and longevity.

As a tree lover, I really enjoy to simply be lost in the presence of trees. Whether this be achieved by either leaning against a tree-trunk while enjoying a good book next to Fondren Library or by jamming out to a Beyoncé song under the canopy of my favorite tree near Brochstein Pavilion is up to the mood I feel or want to feel. This ambiguity allows each tree to represent something different for each individual. It allows students to create their own atmosphere and to be able recognize trees as integral constituents of Rice’s culture of wellbeing.

A morning at ease.

Uncertainty is my Travel Buddy

Every time I go home to Saratoga, California for break, my family goes out to meet with extended family and family friends. The typical questions flood in: how is school? Great! I love Rice! How are your studies? They’re going well! What are you majoring in? Political Science and Psychology, and I’m minoring in Engineering Design.

Long pause. Oh. Interesting combination! What do you want to be?

It’s taken me awhile to find a response to this interaction that is both authentic and acceptable to the traditionalist Chinese aunties and uncles who grill me every holiday break. But the more time I spent talking to Rice people – peers and mentors alike – about my aspirations, the more I felt comfortable asserting my uncertainty.

When asked the same question now, I usually give an abridged version of the following rant — but since I’m presenting this in writing now I’ll indulge in the luxury of being a little flowery in my language.

Frankly, I’m not entirely sure what career path I want to pursue. I love working with people, and I love working with my hands. I love studying how people think and act, but I also love the intricate rules of math. I love the abstract and the concrete, the ambiguous and the clear-cut, the subjective and objective. But I know that I love them, and I know that I have fun studying them, and I know that at Rice I don’t have to be afraid of uncertainty for now. As long as I keep exploring and collecting new data points, pursuing the things I love to do, and asking for help along the way, the amazing people and resources at Rice will help me end up right where I’m supposed to be.

Exploring Houston! (Within a few miles of Rice)

As a self identified lazy person who struggles profoundly to get out of bed every Saturday and Sunday morning, I am well aware of the dichotomy of wanting to explore the city you’re in, versus wanting to endlessly lounge around in pajamas while watching Netflix. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with either option. However, for those days when you do manage to get out of bed, I have compiled a list below of fun places Rice students have access to, that are close enough to not require much planning, the metro, or a car.
  1. Hermann Park (.9 miles): If you’re not from Houston then you’re probably not familiar with this park. Hermann Park is one of Houston’s most popular public parks, and is quite literally across the street from Rice University. If you’re a walker like me (or a runner- which I must clarify that I am not), its filled with tons of beautiful trails to explore, blue lakes, fountains, gardens and people. It is also home to the Miller Outdoor Theatre, the Houston Zoo, and the Museum of Natural Sciences- which is has a really beautiful butterfly exhibit that you shouldn’t miss.
  2. Museums!!: Rice University is located in Houston’s museum district, which means that within a few miles (and often less) of campus there are 19 museums, galleries and cultural centers. The Museum of Fine Arts, The Holocaust Museum, The Contemporary Arts Museum and the Health Museum are just a few! Plus, a  lot of museums have free admission on Thursdays, which as a struggling college student, never fails to put a smile on my face.
  3. Rice Village (1.1 miles): Rice Village is a collection of restaurants, boutiques and stores, that’s both walkable and full of new shops to explore. It conveniently houses some delicious food places: Torchy’s Tacos (their queso is a must-have), Hopdoddy burger bar (home to parmesan truffle fries), and The Chocolate Bar, which is any chocolate enthusiasts dream come true, among other great restaurants.
Rice is located so optimally that just as they step of campus students have access to so many diverse locations. It’s almost hard not to take advantage of Rice’s location in one of Houston’s most cultured (and food filled neighborhoods).

Classes Outside Your Major: Why Knit?

If you are interested in attending Rice (and I really hope you are!), your initial interest in this university may have come from the location, the community, the sports, the academics, or a combination of all of the above! I know that when I was making my decision on where I wanted to apply, Rice was at the very top of the list for all of those reasons. I knew that Rice was a stellar school in terms of academics, and since I’ve come here, I continue to be impressed with the faculty, the majors offered, and the course work. My experience as a Social Science major has been that my professors almost always make a concerted effort to learn their students’ names. There is also the opportunity to get to know your professor well through office hours and research opportunities. In a previous post I talked about these opportunities, and how Rice’s willingness and indeed their outright support of undergraduates serving in these positions really says something about how they view their students.

Take an art class at Rice!

With all of these opportunities and classes, I dived in and got involved in many things before figuring out what I really loved. I took so many classes in Cognitive Sciences that I ended up majoring in Linguistics and Psychology as well. After a whirlwind three years, my senior year arrived, and while the usual suspects (Memory, Social Neuroscience, etc.) were tempting, I decided to take a look at classes that I’d never thought about before. This led me to taking an amazing array of classes that I never would have discovered had I not stepped out of my comfort zone. I ended up taking classes like knitting, Russian, Japanese, and Makeup for the Stage! It is never too late to treat yourself, and Rice gives you the opportunity to do that. The knitting class I took was taught by a fellow Rice student, and I know some of my friends have taken classes like Disney narrative, chess, board game strategy, and stand-up comedy also taught by their peers. You will never know where these opportunities will lead you until you try them!

The hat I knit for my final in knitting class!

I learned that I love knitting and am currently knitting a scarf for my grandma and a sweater. I learned that I have a real knack for languages and will be going to study in Japan this coming summer (as a senior!). I also learned that makeup is an art and that theatrical makeup is not just beautiful – it also tells a story. All of this to say that Rice offers so much more than outstanding academics; it also gives you a chance to discover more about yourself and your talents. After almost four years at Rice, I thought that there was nothing else to learn, but the journey never ends, and I am so proud to be taking this journey while at Rice.

 

RME: Rice Missed Encounters

You could ask students around campus what Missed Encounters is. You’ll get quite a few answers, though none of them are incorrect. For some, it’s just Rice’s iteration of the usual college crush pages. For others, it’s a nice bit of entertainment when they’re not studying. For me, it’s an extension of my daily life. Having owned the page for a year, I’ve started going through the motions in operating the page. So, I haven’t gotten the chance to consider its impact.

Missed Encounters Logo

Finding a perspective might be difficult since I’ve never read RME as others do. Just a few days after orientation week, I just happened to see a post requesting an underclassman’s help on the moderating team. As a page perused by such a large portion of the undergraduates, I expected an intricate system for getting submissions onto the page. Soon, I realized how simple the whole process was.

As for moderation, the team consisted of only the then-owner and myself (as the rest of the team had graduated or became inactive). Picking which anonymous submissions to post generally included removing verbally abusive messages, and directly pasting all the clean submissions straight to the page (which leads to the easy to follow yet minimally formatted encounters).

Despite how simple overseeing the page is, there’s quite a bit one can draw from its existence. After reviewing hundreds of submissions, I’ve noticed that most posters are often just a greeting away from accomplishing their encounters, but why go through the stress of a potentially award situation? I find this tendency to be common across campus. Instead of greeting and possibly coming off too forward, perhaps meting through mutual friends would remove some anxiety. Even further in the case of RME, a post acknowledging something about someone works two-fold. Not only do you get your point across, but you also maintain the utmost security.

This is one of my favorite things about Miss Encounters and Rice in general. Anyone feeling social anxiety or reluctance can find solace in the number of their peers overcoming or finished dealing with the issue. Without RME, those with these problems might never get the chance to compliment or catch the name of someone who caught their eye.

I’m glad the previous moderating teams put forth the effort to garner a following and good reputation for the page. With that said, I feel honored to have gotten the chance to run Missed Encounters. Hopefully, the page continues long after I walk back through the SallyPort.