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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Rice’s Culture of Care

As a new student, most especially during O-week, one of the first things you’ll hear about is the Culture of Care. And, believe me, it’s one of those things you will keep hearing about until it almost seems to lose meaning. At orientation, you’re introduced to all of Rice’s resources, which seem to take care of just about every need you’ll ever have. Need help making your schedule for next semester? Peer Academic Advisors (PAAs) are there for that. Come down with a cold? Need someone to talk to? Rice Health Advisors (RHAs) are prepared for all your basic mental & physical first-aid needs. Need general advice about academics or life at Rice? Your O-Week advisors are happy to help you figure things out. You hear about all these people–all this information is stuffed into your brain in such a short amount of time–and you just got here. You don’t know anyone at Rice. You wonder: are all these people really here to help? Can I ask them for help? Or are they just figureheads? Continue reading

Duncan’s Quad Culture

One of the most unique aspects about Rice is our residential college system. Rice has eleven different residential colleges that students are a member of for their entire time here at Rice! Each college has different traditions, public parties, and cultures. One of my favorite aspects about my residential college (Duncan College) is our quad culture.

One of the many events that takes place in our lovely quad is Friday in the Quad. At FITQ, there is a ton of awesome activities, catered food (like from Torchy’s Tacos), and people. Furthermore, each FITQ has a different theme, ranging from Families Weekend FITQ to Petting Zoo FITQ. At our Families Weekend FITQ, we had pumpkin carving, Boba, and a photo booth. Meanwhile, at our Petting Zoo FITQ, we had mug decorating, a make-your-own smoothie bar, and, of course, a petting zoo! Overall, FITQ is a wonderful way to take a break from the hustle and bustle of our busy academic lives, to bask in the beautiful and sunny weather that we have here in Houston, and to form new friendships with fellow Duncaroos.

Another awesome activity that we have in our quad is College Night. College Night is yet another day full of fun! At our most recent College Night, we had a huge water slide, a Velcro wall, a spikeball tournament with our friendly rival McMurtry, and our own unique Snapchat filter, as well as a TON of awesome food, ranging from Cane’s to Domino’s. College Night was a great way to hang out with my fellow Duncaroos and to take a break from the books.

Located right next to our quad, we have our DuncTank, which serves as a central element of our college’s culture. You’ll often see Duncaroos sitting and studying around the DuncTank and dipping their feet in the DuncTank to cool off on Houston’s hot and humid days. You may also see a group of Duncaroos carrying one of their friends and putting them in the DuncTank. While this may sound a bit crazy, this is just another one of Duncan’s traditions! On a Duncaroo’s birthday, they may opt to get dunked in the DuncTank by their friends. All in all, Duncan’s quad serves as a place for students to eat, study, have fun, and relax!

A Day in My life as a Rice Freshman

No single Rice student’s day looks the same, which is one of the best things about this university. Each person has unique interests and passions which they pursue here at Rice. Students pursue a wide range of majors, from Biological sciences to classics and everything in between. Students are involved in advocacy, research, medical humanities, policy, volunteering, and much much more. One of the best parts of being a Rice student is having the opportunity to interact with peers who have interests that are different from your own, but equally interesting to learn about. The first couple months of my freshman year at Rice have been all about exploring what I want to do with my time here and getting involved in things that seem interesting to me.  With that being said, here is a day I have recently had as a freshman at Rice.

7:15am– I heard my alarm. I groaned. I hit snooze.

7:30am– I heard my alarm again, this time I decided I should probably get up. I proceeded to get out of bed and get dressed for the day.

8:30am– I headed down for breakfast at West Servery and grabbed a plate of scrambled eggs and fruit. I sat at a table outside the servery and read an article for class. This particular one was called “Millennial Women are Worried About the Future of Their Reproductive Care.” After I finishing my reading, I grabbed a cup of servery coffee – which I must say is not bad at all – and headed back up to my room.

9:30– While I would like to say I was productive with the hour I had before class, alas, I was not. I laid in bed watching Stranger Things.

10:30– I packed my backpack and met up with my friend to walk to Econ class. I walked into class and waved at the professor, who I must say, is amazing! Econ 100 is a 120 person, lecture based introductory class, which the professor makes extremely interesting and manageable. He also knows who I am and talks to me whenever he sees me outside of class. But I’ve learned, that’s just how Rice professors are.

12:00– I walked to the English department lounge for a presentation on what careers are available to English majors. As a potential English major, this was right up my alley. Representatives from the Center for Career Development and the Jones Graduate School of Business spoke about various job opportunities. Free lunch was also provided at the event, so I dug into a delicious burrito as I listened to the speakers.

1:15– I hurried to Brochstein Pavilion, which is both a cafe and central spot on campus. I was meeting my English professor at Brochstein to discuss my ideas for my close analysis essay on Egyptian poetry.  

2:00– I went to my second and final class of the day. Today, there were two guest lecturers in class: one was from Planned Parenthood and the other was a doctor at Rice. We spoke about gender, reproductive care, health insurance and legislation.

4:00– I settled down in a comfortable chair at Fondren Library, with a view of the quad and Sallyport on my right, and my calculus textbook in front of me. With a midterm coming up soon, I had a lot of work to get done.

8:00– I suddenly realized that I forgot to leave the library and eat dinner- I know, it’s crazy! I walked back to my room and warmed up some readymade Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese (it’s honestly really good). My friends came over and we all sat on the floor talking, eating and watching Stranger Things.

10:00– I changed into pajamas and worked on my essay in my room. I occasionally got distracted and watched Youtube videos, but on the whole I was productive enough.

12:15– I got into bed and went on Instagram for a few minutes and then promptly dozed off afterwards.

Sid and Me? We Go Wayyy Back

I’ve been a tour guide for almost three years and have had the honor of having many Rice alumni on my tours, accompanying their children on their search for the perfect university, only slightly constrained by the poorly-hidden bias emanating from their parents. I have to admit that having these parents on my tours is one of the coolest things about being a tour guide. Their enthusiasm about the university and their memories of their eventful time here is still as strong as when they graduated, and it’s inspiring to realize how much larger yet how much more close-knit Rice is than I previously thought. As a student at Rice, you are plugged into the fascinating, quirky, and unique history that has been shaped by the students themselves over the last 105 years.

I had the honor of giving the first woman to graduate from Sid and her family a tour of the campus. Here we are in the Sid Richardson lobby!

Twice, I’ve had Sid Richardson (my residential college) alumni on my tours, and both times, it was extremely cool to hear their stories (I may or may not have given them a little princess treatment after the general tour). The first alum happened to be the first woman to have graduated from Sid Richardson College after Sid became a co-ed college in 1987. She was with her whole family on the tour, and I excitedly brought them back to Sid Richardson afterwards, her first time back in the building since she graduated. Nothing had changed. She scanned the portraits on the wall of presidents and pointed out her friends to her kids. I brought them up to my suite to see a Sid room, and that, too, was exactly the same as she remembered it. It was exciting, as she shared stories of her time with her kids in the place that they happened, and how she transferred from Jones to Sid in her junior year. It was truly a blast from the past, and the fact that she was an Asian woman made it feel like she had carved the way for me to be there.

The second time was just recently, perhaps two weeks ago. Two boys on my morning tour were accompanied by their mother and father, who graduated from Sid Richardson in 1979. Later on in the day when I was walking back from class to Sid, I found them standing in front of the entrance, staring up at the building. Seeing that there was not much for them to garner just from looking at it, I brought them inside. Their father was charged with infectious energy as we made our way up to his old floor, 6th floor, and looked out from the balcony as the stacks blasting music right above us. Their father told us about the time someone drove their motorcycle into the college commons for college night (which we still have today) and another time someone fell through the ceiling tiles into the servery. Conveniently, we ran into our current Sid president at the same time, and we all engaged in a fascinating conversation merging two eras of Sid history and tradition.

We talk about the residential colleges a lot – how fun they are, which one has the best food, which one is going to win the President’s Cup for intramural sports – but sometimes we forget that the colleges are living with rich history of all the students who lived there before us. It’s crazy for me to go through old yearbooks and see things like Lyndon B. Johnson standing among the same brick walls in Sid commons in 1971. Rice is a community that spans far larger than any of us could imagine, not only in breadth but also depth. Your presence and participation in any of the residential colleges is no small matter. If anything, it makes your experience as an undergraduate student that much more meaningful.