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!

The Suite Life at Rice

One of the biggest questions incoming students (and their parents) have about Rice is: what are the rooms like? Am I going to have to live with a roommate? Is my bathroom down the hall? How much stuff should I bring?

The answer is: it depends. Each residential college is different in how they do rooming. There are usually standard living options for freshman, though, which give you the opportunity to live with others. At my time at Rice, I’ve lived two years in a double and one year in a suite of five people. Because there are different arrangements at every college, take my experience with a grain of salt. Here are just a few observations about my time at Rice (and specifically, living inside Duncan College).

Doubles

My first two years at Rice, I lived in doubles with two very different people. My roommate freshman year was, like me, quiet and introverted, and we had similar sleep schedules, so we didn’t have many conflicts arise. My roommate sophomore year was a little bit more active in the community, but my very good friend, and we compromised with ease. These experiences were super valuable to me: living with another person can teach you to be conscientious of other people and their space and needs.

The downside in both cases is that it can be hard to really make your space your own. If you need to stay up late one night working on a paper, and your roommate wants to go to bed, you have to respect their wishes and go work on it somewhere else. If you have to wake up for a really early meeting, you kind of have to tiptoe around to not wake up your roommate. If you want to have your sibling visit at Rice, you have to make those arrangements ahead of time. Overall, it’s best to go into a year living in a double positively and thoughtfully. If you and your roommate agree to have a respectful, conscientious relationship, you will learn so much from living with someone else, and you’ll be able to share your life and things and day with someone in a really cool way.

Suites:

The suites at Duncan are different from the suites at other colleges, but the concept is the same: we live in separate rooms connected to common spaces. My suite is composed of five singles and two bathrooms around our common living space. This is a more common arrangement for upperclassmen; most suites for underclassmen are suites of doubles. Personally, I prefer living in a suite. I like this for a few reasons. First, if I want privacy, I can just go into my room. But, if I want to see people and not have to go very far, I can go to our common space. Living suite-style is great for this compromise, but it also has its challenges. If someone in my suite wants to host an event or have a guest, the other four people have to approve, and if any one person disagrees, the event can’t happen. Usually, this won’t cause too much of a conflict, but it is something to keep in mind.  Suite-style living teaches you a different way of getting along with people, too. It teaches compromise and sharing of items, being responsible for cleaning and maintaining a space you share with others, and planning ahead.

Many new students at Rice will be placed in doubles, or suites of some type, so these perspectives might be helpful when coming into Rice. If you have further questions, you can always check out the websites of the residential colleges, many of which show room layouts. But also, don’t worry about living too much. It’s an important part of living here, but it doesn’t have to make or break your college experience.

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).

Rice’s Unique Welcome to Campus

O-Week hype is in the air as this year’s O-Week themes are being revealed and students are applying to advise and co-advise.

For me, O-Week was just 6 months ago. I remember being excited about going to college, spending my summer days imagining what my new home would be like. The excitement only multiplied in July when it was time to get our residential college, O-Week group, and room/roommate assignments. Many of us incoming students waited all night for the first email: college assignments. I wasn’t able to join in on the wait because I had to catch an early morning flight, but I remember the sheer joy I had when I woke up to an e-mail from the McMurtry O-Week Coordinators. I was going to be a part of NintendO-Week (objectively the best theme), and I was going to be a Murt!

A month later, it was finally time to head to Rice. After a long morning of commuting, unpacking, and settling in, it was time for the parents to say their farewells and for O-Week to officially begin. I got to meet my O-Week group Bruno Marth: 24k Magikarp.

My cute O-Week family

Just getting to know each other

O-Week was eventful to say the least. Beginning with matriculation, our days were filled with games, academic presentations, class scheduling, resource tours, and college traditions. If you want to see more of what O-Week is like, there are a lot of videos from various residential colleges on YouTube from previous years. Each college’s O-Week is different, but overall, the week helped prepare us for Rice and enabled us to bond with each other and our college. At the end of the week, it was nice knowing that I had access to so many resources and that I was a part of a family that loved and supported each other.

Just a few weeks ago, at McMurtry’s 2018 O-Week theme reveal party, we watched a video montage of our previous O-Week. It was a huge rush of nostalgia; I couldn’t believe it had already been 6 months since it all happened. The spirit of O-Week is truly unrivaled. Rice does an amazing job of welcoming its students, and I hope that never changes.

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.

 

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!