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!

Learning a Foreign Language at Rice


One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at Rice is learning a new language. I already speak English and Spanish, but I’ve wanted to learn French for a long time. My high school was pretty small, so the French classes filled up quickly and I was unable to take them. Fortunately, Rice has programs for a lot of different languages. I thought it would be interesting to take an introductory French course to see how it goes, and I was not expecting to like it as much as I did. I’m currently in my second semester learning the language, and I’ve already learned so much. In just a few months, I was able to learn enough to have significant conversations with other people. Apart from teaching vocabulary and grammar, my language professors also teach the culture surrounding the language. For example, I’ve learned the differences in how conversations flow in English versus in French. My language courses are my favorite classes at this school.

This is the group of students that participated in Rice in France, Summer 2017

Rice also has a lot of great study abroad opportunities, and one of the programs, Rice in Country, is specifically for students new to the languages. It is a 6-week study abroad program in the summer where students go to a country in order to immerse themselves in the language and the culture. I applied and got accepted to the Rice in France program, where I will be travelling to the south of France, staying with a French-speaking host family, taking more French classes. I’m so excited to apply what I’ve learned in the classroom to the real world. I highly suggest taking advantage of the language learning opportunities that Rice provides!

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Outside of the Lab?

As a pre-law student, I came into Rice thinking that I would never have to concern myself with research. Many of my freshmen pre-med friends flew into a frenzy at the end of first semester while applying and looking into labs where they could do topical research and get published. As a pre-law student, I thought this conversation did not apply to me, but I had no idea how Rice would surprise me. 


Every single residential college has some sort of Associate program- previous graduates or close adult affiliates of the college who continue to show their support through various methods: hosting O-Week groups at their house for dinner, mentoring students, or attending college dinners and Associates’ Nights to meet students. My residential college continues its Associate-student engagement by pairing interested students with an Associate who is currently working in a field they’re interested in pursuing later on. Given that I only have a general idea of what I want to do for my career, this program seemed like a perfect way to gain more insight into the more technical aspects of law.


I’ve happened to learn that Rice has a really funny way of presenting opportunities to its students.


The day I got to meet my Associate, our Associate Coordinators at had set up a lunch . Ironically, it wasn’t even my Associate that I began doing research with. Conversation was nice, and we left after exchanging emails and a promise to keep in touch. But on my way out from the lunch, I was stopped by another Associate who had seen me at a pre-law interest event and asked if I was still interested in a pre-law opportunity. Seemingly through fate, research with this Associate fell into my lap- but I wasn’t really sure what legal research even was or what kind of time commitment would be expected of me. After a week of deliberation, I was already working on my first problem with nothing but an online database and a collection of words that I had never heard before. My research is very different to what most of my other friends are involved in- instead of running gels or testing on animals in labs all I need is my laptop and I can get started analyzing Constitutional precedent in thousands of legal cases.


I’ve been researching for almost three months now, and I’ve learned skills that I haven’t yet in the classroom- or already got a head start on certain skills that I are gradually becoming more applicable in my coursework. You can imagine my surprise when I found out that my upper-level political science class is using Westlaw, a database that I’ve already become familiar with, thanks to my research. To be completely honest, it wasn’t at all rewarding in the beginning. There were questions with terms I hadn’t even heard of before and I had no idea where to start looking. But trial and error will get you further than just simply being shown how to climb the ropes.


My favorite part about the nature of my research is its flexibility- I have someone keeping me accountable so I don’t fall too far behind, but ultimately, the work is what I can and want to put into it. It’s a frustrating, seldom rewarding process- but when I do turn up with even slightly promising results, the painful hours of reading and rereading thirty page legal briefs and case citations are all worth it. Just a few months before, I hadn’t even known what legal research was, and now I’m so excited to be editing not just one, but two publications.




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).


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.


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.