Rice Packs in the Opportunities

Out of all of the tools that college has given me, my backpack has proved the most useful.

My backpack and I started our journey together right before college. I had never considered it more than an item, something that was useful but unnecessary. It sat in the corner of my room for 3 months during the summer. At least, I thought it was sitting, but really it was preparing.

Our first true adventure was move-in day. I began to see it as a partner, as I didn’t intend on getting a new backpack for the next few years. It politely waited on my desk through O-week as we prepared for the first day of school. All it held was 3 notebooks, 2 pens, a pencil, and a USB drive — all that my naïve new student brain thought I would need.

The backpack and I at a baseball game in Japan!

It was only two weeks in when I started to appreciate the third pocket. Office hours require text books, textbooks that couldn’t be forced into the laptop and folder pocket. They nestled nicely in the third pocket. And the back pack nestled nicely on my shoulders. I vaguely remembered the “EXTRA PADDING” tag, and although the back pack is heavier with text books, there was no digging in of the straps to my shoulders, as if my pack was taking at least part of the stress off of my shoulders. My back pack became my friend.

About halfway through my first semester, the Back Pack and I got a new member. As I joined two club sports teams, and realized I didn’t want to have the smell of outdoors in the same pocket as my essays, my sports bag became essential. It was essentially a large hole, carrying two pairs of shoes, 3 outfit changes, and a smaller pouch for snacks. This back pack has been across the country, won a national championship, and survived communal washers to help me live out the wannabe-varsity-athlete that lives in side of me.

These two back packs carried me through the first semester of my second year. Laptop, journals, Chap Stick, class. Resume, folder, heels, career fair. Band-Aids, cleats, knee brace, tournament. Nail polish, cookies, speaker, girls’ night in. My experiences at Rice University became more and more diversified. So diverse, that I needed yet another backpack. Because my first two packs had allowed my two travel to track meets and performances across campus, the city, and the country, I had met a lot of people. Most importantly, I met one person, who would go on to gift me my next pack.

The Back Pack Pack

This new back pack was pink with polka dots, a little smaller than the usual back pack, with only one compartment. Perfect for letting me run to Target to pick up lemons for my business project, or for carrying my journal to the engineering quad so I could relax on a sunny day. This backpack was like my best girlfriend, making sure I looked cute no matter what was going on. This addition to my pack family made me all the more efficient. I was able to pre-pack my packs, so I could get up and rush to whatever activity was necessary. They had my back, and I am grateful.

Rice University has allowed me the opportunity to participate in international research, civil rights demonstrations, and inner tube water polo. Whatever I have wanted to try, I have had the opportunity here. There are actually so many opportunities, that prioritizing has become my biggest struggle. I want to do everything, to be everything, but the overwhelming amount of activities has actually made me become more of myself. When you have to choose, you want to make sure that you choose wisely, because free time is a luxury. You will find out what you truly enjoy when you come to Rice, and you will have the backpacks to help you through it.

Food Trucks: The Hidden Gem of Rice University Public Dining

Last week, as I was browsing the Rice dining website, I stumbled upon the food trucks section. As a non-engineering major, I never wandered over by Mudd Labs or the OEDK (Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen), which is where the food trucks park from 5:30 PM until 9:00 PM.

Since I had never tried the food trucks, I challenged myself to eat at one everyday of the week (most likely at a detriment to my health). So, here’s where I ate:

Monday: Anna’s Gourmet Greek: I was daring and I ordered the chicken souvlaki. For those of you who have never had Greek food before, the chicken souvlaki is an excellent place to start. There are four to five pieces of chicken, topped with lettuce and tomatoes, and wrapped in pita bread. There’s also an indescribable sauce that coats the chicken. For the wallet-conscious, this item was on the higher end of food truck cuisine, costing $10.

Tuesday: Yummy Dog: I didn’t know what to expect from Tuesday night’s food truck offering. According to the dining website, I thought that both the Bonjour Creperie and the Yummy Dog would have trucks present. As it turns out, they alternate Tuesday nights, so only the Yummy Dog was there. TBH, I was feeling like crepes, especially on Crepe Day, but I decided to try something new: a “Texan” hotdog. Most of the time, I am a hotdog purist, meaning that I only eat the hotdog on a bun, sans condiments. Occasionally, I will put chili on top (is my Texan-ness showing?). The Texan hotdog was a beef hotdog on a pretzel bun, topped with jalapenos, onions, and barbecue sauce. In terms of pricing, this item was average, weighing in at about $8.

Wednesday: Bubba Burger: I was a bit rushed this night because I didn’t have a ton of time between my Law and Economics class and Dance Team practice, but I still ran over to the food trucks regardless. The food truck specialized in buffalo burgers, but I ordered a plain burger with lettuce and tomato only (this combination will forever be known as “The Hailey”). The 1/3-pound of beef on a bready bun with an excellent lettuce/tomato/meat ratio was stellar. My wallet smiled since this was the cheapest item from a food truck all week, priced at $5 (before tax).

Thursday: Foreign Policy: “American food with an International Flavor.” This food truck specialized in Korean, Mexican, Greek, and American cuisine. I decided to go with the Korean burger, even though it seemed spicy. This burger was huge – I could only eat about half before filling up. However, that could have been my fault, as I also had to get one of their stuffed donuts. There’s a complex process associated with making these donuts, but here’s the gist of it: They fry a tortilla and cover it in caramel and stick it between a sweet, succulent donut. This burger cost $9, in the middle in terms of pricing. The donut was $5 (probably the best food truck item I had all week – would strongly recommend!).

Friday: Off-campus dinner with my parents: I don’t have class on Friday this semester, so I usually don’t come on campus. I’ll probably try The Waffle Bus later, as the name “Waffle Bus” is impossible to pass up.

 

Overall, there are so many dining options on-campus, and even more off-campus. So far, I have been at Rice 3 semesters and still continue to discover new places to eat.

Are you ready for the food truck challenge?

Rice in South Carolina!

I’ve had a whirlwind end of school year and summer!

At the end of the school year I participated in a fundraising event for an organization called St. Baldricks focused on raising money to support research towards the cure to children’s cancer. In order to raise money, I pledged to shaved my head on April 24th. Over the course of 3 weeks, I raised almost $2,000 and raised awareness for children’s cancer around Rice’s campus! The day of the shave ended up being a huge success and helped bring the Rice community together for a good cause.

A few weeks later, I flew down to Charleston, South Carolina for a summer research experience (Research Experience Undergraduates funded by the National Science Foundation – Minorities in Marine and Environmental Sciences) and had been having an amazing summer so far. Not only am I getting valuable research experience, learning how to structure and write my own research paper, but I am also getting to explore Charleston for the entire summer. While working here, I even had the great opportunity to meet a Rice Graduate School Alum working on my project with me. Dr. Dan Bearden got his Masters in 1983 and PhD in 1987 in Physics from Rice University and is now working here in the Hollings Marine Lab using nuclear magnetic resonance to discover metabolic trends in marine animals. We’ve been able to chat about all things Rice as well as marine and environmental sciences over the course of the summer

All in all, I’ve had some wonderful learning experiences this summer but I’m still very excited to get started back at Rice in the next couple of weeks!

Me in Winyah Bay, South Carolina holding a wild Red drum (my focal species for the summer)

Me in Winyah Bay, South Carolina holding a wild Red drum (my focal species for the summer)

Me and Dr. Dan Bearden, a Rice alum and current student

Me and Dr. Dan Bearden, a Rice alum and current student

Theatre at Rice – Bob: A Life in Five Acts

This semester, Rice’s Visual and Dramatic Arts (VADA) department is producing the modern play Bob: A Life in Five Acts by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. We essentially began rehearsals and working on this production on the first day of the second semester and will open on February 13th! Being in such a fast production has been a whirlwind of rehearsals, production meetings, and emails, but it has been a blast. It’s been great getting to know people from different colleges who are passionate about the same things I am.

The show is also really comical, so we spend a lot of our rehearsals laughing at each other, the script, and the different ways that each of the characters are physicalized on stage. Getting to work with a guest director, to try out a wild and crazy scenes, accents, and actions as well as learning more about the acting processes makes it even more fun. One of my favorite moments so far is at the beginning of the show, our main character is born. We made the decision to use the full grown actor as a baby, instead of a doll baby. It has been so entertaining having our main character, a 6’1″, full grown man, squirm around the stage, speak in baby gibberish, and act like he can’t even hold his head up. At one point, his adopted mother, hides him under a table, and he lays down there squirming for the entire scene. As you can imagine, this is hilarious and often puts me, the director, and everyone around into a fit of laughter. The more and more we work through this show, the crazier it gets, but it’s been an amazing experience.

Being a part of this show is a great example of Theatre at Rice University, no matter what, you’re sure to have fun on stage at Rice.

In reherasal, the main character (Bob) hides under the table.

The EtherNest: An Innovative Harbor

There’s a new place on campus called the EtherNest.  Its purpose is to “serve as a collaborative space for students to explore creative uses of technology.” (The Rice Thresher, 2014). It does exactly that and more.

The idea for the space is that students come whenever they want and use the tools available to work on school or personal projects, specifically ones involving electronic components that might need to be soldered. In addition, the creators are sponsoring several guided workshops to introduce newbies to different aspects of electrical engineering, including wearable electronics, noise-making circuits, and the workshop I attended, TV-B-Gone.

Invented by Mitch Altman, the TV-B-Gone is a simple but reliable device that acts like a remote.  Whenever activated, it cycles through all kinds of different infrared, or IR signals, that different TVs recognize as a turn-off signal.  The result: a single universal “off” remote.  The idea is pretty socially complex, as it deals with advertising and putting the power into the people’s hands, a sort of ‘stick it to the man’ if you will.  Drawn in by both the collaboration and the event, I reserved my kit and headed on down on a quiet Friday night.

The space itself, in Abercrombie Lab room 119, is quaint.  There are a few tables covered in soldering irons in the center, and computers line the walls.  There are projects everywhere: an incomplete 3D printer, a color changing lamp, and circuit boards that do things I wouldn’t know how to explain. In a corner, there is a LP player, and the selection is “a sad girl with a guitar,” a folk blues band, and a Devo album.  The music is fitting, and it gives the space a grassroots feel, like you’re just hanging out in a friend’s garage playing around with transistors and soldering irons.

Once everything is ready to go, the man in charge, Reed Jones, a senior at McMurtry College, gives us a simple tutorial on how to solder components onto a circuit board. I haven’t soldered anything in at least two years, but anytime I screw up on something, Reed is more than willing to give me a hand, as is everyone else in the room. The camaraderie between all of us in the room is apparent by the fact that questions are just shouted out to the room as a whole and will be answered without hesitation by someone who knows.

The EtherNest, to me, is a great example of the “Rice Geek,” someone who is passionate about what they do.  As we all sit and solder our devices, jokes are tossed around like, “a resistor is like Skrillex; it drops the voltage,” and “a capacitor is like pac man, it just eats and eats until it gets full.” I barely know most of these people, and I’m not even an ELEC major, but I feel like I fit right in.  The entire feel of the EtherNest is wonderful.  It’s a place created by students, a place to hack, innovate, explore, design, and have fun.

Rice Lunch Bonding

It’s approximately 11:55am, suddenly you see giant crowds of Rice students talking, laughing and walking towards the various serveries. This is one of the many great things about Rice, the fact that (the vast majority of) class times allow students to eat lunch with each other every day. This unique scheduling allows students to bond and take a much needed midday break together.

Continue reading