Perfect Group Photos

     The days leading up to the start of my freshman year were nerve wracking. I was terrified of moving away from home. After years of living on the same street, in the same house, with the same group of friends, I never thought I would be able to make connections with the people around me. Now my phone is littered with group photos from my first semester here and not only do I have friends, I have a family here.

It all started with my roommate and my floor. A family was already built for me where I lived on Brown 2nd – we even had a floorsgiving together! I could not be more grateful for those that live around me.

Brown College’s 2nd Floor Floorsgiving

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Wonderful Owl Communities

Yesterday at lunch, I was sitting with my RA (residential assistance), and he asked me what I love most about Rice during my first two months of life here. I thought for a while and answered, the community. Rice provides incredible communities for students to find their places and prosper. For me, the most important communities I belong to are the residential college and the academic community.

 

Some people say that the dormitories at Rice are not dormitories, but colleges. I say they are not colleges, but home. Before I came to Rice, I heard tons of nice things about the residential college system. After I arrived and started the fantastic O-Week, I finally realized what a unique and splendid life experience that the residential college offers. The one thing that I love most about it is that I never feel alone here. Whenever I feel bored or wanted to hang out with friends, all I have to do is go downstairs to the pool table or the lounge, and I can always find friends to play and chill with. Although I have been here for only two months, I already feel attached to my college. The residential college gave me a smooth and happy transition to my university life.

 

The academic community here is also wonderful. Students and faculty at Rice treat academics with seriousness. During work hours, students work hard to achieve their goals. The weeks around midterms are quite stressful for me, but my stress was cleared out quickly by classmates, TAs (teaching assistance), and the professors. In each class I can find friends to work with and talk about the class. Because students are all randomly assigned to residential colleges, I can always find people in my college that are in the same classes. Besides the study groups that I can find right next to me, the assistance provided by the faculty is essential as well. The TAs and professors for each class are ready to answer all the specific questions you have about the class. What if I have concerns about my majors and future academic plans? The academic advisors are there to talk to and they will help you plan your semester and your future.

Full-Time Student, Part-Time Worker

As a college student, I already have a lot of responsibilities on my plate, ranging from academics to my extracurriculars to maintaining strong relationships with my friends. Another one of these responsibilities is my job. Last summer, I worked for OpenStax, a non-profit organization that utilizes openly-licensed resources to make free textbooks for students. I really enjoyed working here, as I was able to combine my passion for education accessibility and affordability with my interest in marketing and communications, all while making friendships along the way. When I found out that I had the opportunity to continue working here when the academic year started, I was ecstatic!

When the semester first started, I had a bit of difficulty managing my time so that I could best balance my schoolwork with my job, other extracurriculars, and social life. However, as the semester has progressed, I’ve gained a variety of crucial time management skills that I know will benefit me for the rest of my college career. If you’re one of the many Rice students who plan to work while in college, here are some tips to help you manage your time and keep track of your schedule:

-Use a planner or an online calendar to keep track of classes, club meetings, and appointments. I use Google Calendar, where I can easily input the times and locations of my classes and meetings and keep track of where I need to be via a color-coded system.

-Maintain a routine sleep schedule during the week. It can be really tempting to stay up in your college’s commons with your friends until 3 in the morning. Even though this is perfectly fine to do occasionally, if it becomes a regular activity then it can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule and leave you feeling exhausted (trust me, I’ve been there!). I find myself feeling healthiest and best organized when I maintain a consistent sleep schedule during the school week.

-Don’t be afraid to ask for help! College can be very stressful, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by everything on your plate. However, it’s crucial to remember that Rice has an amazing culture of care, and everyone you meet – ranging from your friends in your residential college to your professors to your magisters – care about your wellbeing and are here to support you during times of both success and trouble.

The Family I Found at Rice

One of the biggest transitions I encountered upon coming to Rice was the social environment. I came from a school that was academically highly competitive and this competition seemed to seep into all the interactions and relationships I had. Don’t get me wrong, I had close friends, but the general social environment I was used to was mostly unhealthy.

When I came to Rice however, I found a family in the truest sense of the word, and it started from the minute I set foot on campus for O-Week. I had envisioned a difficult transition to college and that I would have a hard time meeting new people, especially because I’m not an outgoing person. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. O-Week really is a one of kind experience that indescribably helped me formed strong relationships with really great people. It creates such a strong community of new students and advisors, and ever since, I’ve never felt out of place at Rice.

Rice really is a social culture unlike any other. Beyond just O-Week, the residential college system allows you to form unique relationships with people you would never usually interact with. At any time, you can walk down into the commons at Lovett and find people working or talking at a table and sit with them. There is never a feeling of exclusive social groups or distinction between grades or majors. Everyone interacts with one another and is open to engaging and having genuine social interactions with you.

Further than even a place where you feel comfortable, the social environment at Rice really is a culture of care. This culture extends beyond just your physical well-being, it’s a culture that values you as yourself, as a person and does it’s best to be there for you in all aspects of your life whether it be emotionally, physically, mentally, or socially. In all interactions, this sentiment is evident. Continue reading

The Familiarity of Family

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

Pixar Studi-O Week: My Introduction to Rice

“Pixar Studi-O Week? Do you guys dress up as Pixar characters for an entire week?”

I got this question from friends back home and would often have to explain that O-Week was our orientation week at Rice and that we didn’t have to dress up as Pixar characters. While we collectively wondered why it was an entire week, rather than the 2-3 days offered by our state schools, the impact it would have on my Rice experience was unimaginable.

The Culture of Care that Rice students so frequently refer to was evident from the beginning of the summer. From the information books I received in the mail to the constant emails our coordinators would send us, all I had been told was that O-Week would be an extremely memorable week with 8-10 other students and 4 Advisors (current students) in my “O-Week group.”

My O-Week Group (Finding Migos!!)

On that bright Sunday morning as my dad navigated towards McMurtry College, I was met by my enthusiastic Advisors screaming my name and rushing to unload our car. Before I knew it, most of my stuff was in my room and there was no stress for me or my family.

Our greeting on Move-in Day!

However, one of my suitcases unfortunately got lost in the shuffle of moving in. My Advisors did not stop looking for it and truly demonstrated the Culture of Care by knocking on every door possible and asking for the suitcase until we found it. Our Advisors had worked so tirelessly to make this week the best week possible for us, and this was just the first instance of the Culture of Care that Rice is so well known for.

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