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!

RME: Rice Missed Encounters

You could ask students around campus what Missed Encounters is. You’ll get quite a few answers, though none of them are incorrect. For some, it’s just Rice’s iteration of the usual college crush pages. For others, it’s a nice bit of entertainment when they’re not studying. For me, it’s an extension of my daily life. Having owned the page for a year, I’ve started going through the motions in operating the page. So, I haven’t gotten the chance to consider its impact.

Missed Encounters Logo

Finding a perspective might be difficult since I’ve never read RME as others do. Just a few days after orientation week, I just happened to see a post requesting an underclassman’s help on the moderating team. As a page perused by such a large portion of the undergraduates, I expected an intricate system for getting submissions onto the page. Soon, I realized how simple the whole process was.

As for moderation, the team consisted of only the then-owner and myself (as the rest of the team had graduated or became inactive). Picking which anonymous submissions to post generally included removing verbally abusive messages, and directly pasting all the clean submissions straight to the page (which leads to the easy to follow yet minimally formatted encounters).

Despite how simple overseeing the page is, there’s quite a bit one can draw from its existence. After reviewing hundreds of submissions, I’ve noticed that most posters are often just a greeting away from accomplishing their encounters, but why go through the stress of a potentially award situation? I find this tendency to be common across campus. Instead of greeting and possibly coming off too forward, perhaps meting through mutual friends would remove some anxiety. Even further in the case of RME, a post acknowledging something about someone works two-fold. Not only do you get your point across, but you also maintain the utmost security.

This is one of my favorite things about Miss Encounters and Rice in general. Anyone feeling social anxiety or reluctance can find solace in the number of their peers overcoming or finished dealing with the issue. Without RME, those with these problems might never get the chance to compliment or catch the name of someone who caught their eye.

I’m glad the previous moderating teams put forth the effort to garner a following and good reputation for the page. With that said, I feel honored to have gotten the chance to run Missed Encounters. Hopefully, the page continues long after I walk back through the SallyPort.

Houston Brunch Scene on a Budget

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I hesitated putting the word budget in the title of this post, because let’s face it, Houston isn’t necessarily an inexpensive place to live.

A nice, oversized latte I got at Common Bond, complete with the Snapchat geotag.

But if you wanted to know the most economical way to get around the city (and explore all of the amazing food options), I couldn’t recommend picking up your metro card from the Allen Center highly enough. Included with your tuition at Rice, each student is entitled to a metro card with a $50 balance. If you run out? No problem! Just go pick up another one, no extra cost.

Since it’s our freshman year, my roommate and I thought the best way to explore the city would be to go out for one meal every week. This wasn’t cheap. Even though we kept receiving 50% off our Lyft rides, our weekly excursions were quickly adding up. $3 for the Lyft there, $13 for brunch, $3 for the Lyft back. Realizing we could get free metro cards was a game changer – and it helped us justify our brunch addiction!

A screenshot of the Transit App, providing directions to Ono Poke (so good!)

A must-have app for any public transport user is “Transit.” It’s free to download, and all you have to do is share your location and the app gives you step-by-step directions on how to get to where you’re going. When the bus/metro is coming, what line to take, which stop to get off on, how far you’ll need to walk. It makes the whole process much less daunting, and it’s a cool way to really get a feel for the city of Houston.

As for which brunch spots I recommend? You can’t go wrong with Common Bond, a Montrose staple. Snooze is also quite good. Recently we tried a cute place called Ritual in the Heights, which was amazing. We haven’t been disappointed yet. Our mission for this weekend is to find some quality bagels and lox, and with our metro cards in hand, we should be good to go.

Making the Most out of Your Time at Rice Outside of Rice

Rice is your first-choice school because it’s a rare combination of a high-achieving environment perfectly balanced by a dynamic and close-knit social community. The residential colleges make your Hogwarts dreams come true, and you can’t wait to be friends with every squirrel on campus.

I can say this light-heartedly because this was me. These were essentially my exact reasons for wanting to come to Rice as a high-schooler, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you share my reasoning. I’m not here to undermine them at all – I still hope to one day become the resident squirrel whisperer – but the paradoxical truth is that I didn’t fully feel justified in choosing Rice over all other schools and above all other practical reasons (such as finances) until I took advantage of opportunities outside of Rice.

One of these opportunities was research in the Texas Medical Center. As a pre-med student, I felt some pressure to start doing research from freshman year, but the pressure wasn’t overwhelming enough to push me to do it on my own volition. So through all of freshman year, through all of sophomore year, the extent of my pre-med experience was taking the required courses, and during this time, I definitely wondered if there was any difference between me coming to Rice or going to my state school if all I was doing was taking classes like general physics and organic chemistry. It wasn’t until the summer after sophomore year that I decided to start research in Houston, and I opted to continue researching in the same lab through my junior year. UT Health is a mere five minute walk away from my college, but even being less than a mile away from Rice, I suddenly felt like my time at Rice was truly worth my decision to come to Rice in the first place. Balancing a full class schedule with a research schedule, switching my Rice ID for my UT ID as I pushed Rice’s bordering hedges out of the way, made me feel, for the first time, that I was truly redeeming my time as a Rice student.

Learning confocal microscopy with my mentor in lab

A second off-campus opportunity that I do not regret taking advantage of involved my involvement with the Campanile Yearbook. Every semester, the Campanile staff is invited to attend the National College Media Convention, and as copy editor this year, I decided to go to the fall convention held in Dallas. I had no idea what to expect since it was first time going to a convention about college publications, but once I got there, I realized that I was participating in something much bigger than myself. Universities from across the nation were there, pitching ideas for up-and-coming publications, getting their current volumes edited by publishing professionals, learning how to be better reporters and writers and designers. It was amazing to be there and to represent Rice. When we returned, I was more excited than I had ever been to create a stunning 2017-2018 yearbook.

CMA Dallas with Campanile Yearbook staff

When you choose to come to Rice, you’re not just choosing the school. Rice itself indeed has amazing opportunities for internships, volunteering, work, and networking, but so does the city of Houston and so does the state of Texas. It’s never too early to start seizing these opportunities, and never be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, maybe even far away from Rice.

Research as an English Major: Beyond Reading Lists and Academic Essays

When I first got to Rice, I had no idea that I would conduct research in the Department of English. I certainly did not know about the abundant opportunities to pursue independent projects, nor did I know that I could work on an Honors Thesis consisting primarily of my own original, creative work.

As a senior, I have come a long way. I arrived at Rice with aspirations to conduct psychological research (which I still did and continue to do today in Dr. Mikki Hebl’s Industrial/Organizational Psychology Lab) – and psychological research only. I then took a FWIS (Freshman Writing Seminar) revolving around American poetry, and felt fulfilled and at my happiest while reading and writing poems. It didn’t take long for me to take a couple more poetry courses and declare my English major – excited yet unsure about what exactly my future as an English major held. All I knew was that I loved to read and I loved to write, and I still loved to conduct research.

As a Minter Summer Scholar, I spent several hours roaming bookstores in Boston; the Harvard Book Store quickly became my favorite, thanks to its international poetry section.

After completing the majority of the English major’s requirements, I considered taking an independent study where I could create my own coursework and study content that was not otherwise taught in the English department. Seeking mentorship, I reached out to my ENGL 300 professor, whose knowledge of foreign authors, philosophers, and films always sparked long conversations during her office hours. She was and continues to be incredibly supportive of my efforts to incorporate foreign poetry and translation into my academic experience. While taking independent studies with her during my junior year, I found myself exposed to foreign authors and poets. The most exciting part for me was the discovery of writers from my homeland; I was suddenly reading novels by Turkish authors and beginning to produce my own poems in Turkish. As a native Turkish speaker who grew up relatively unexposed to Turkish poetry, this was a huge step in not only my academic but also my personal growth. Poetry – reading it, writing it, and translating it – became my creative outlet as well as my medium for thinking through my homeland’s turbulent sociopolitical climate. With the support of my professor-turned-research-advisor, I experimented with a number of poetic forms, turned scattered ideas into portfolios of poetry, and spent 2 weeks this past summer in Boston researching foreign poetry and reading criticism on translation – all thanks to the Minter Summer Scholarship in the Department of English.

The beautiful Boston Public Library, where I spent most of my days researching translation and poetry.

Some find it easy to get caught up with the idea that being an English major only involves writing essays and reading books. However, there are so many opportunities to take all of that a step further, to conduct research in the English department (and beyond as well – in the Humanities Research Center, for instance), and to pursue research topics more independently with the guidance and support of a mentor. My time in the English department has certainly benefited from all the work I’ve done in my independent studies (even though it never really felt like “work,” as I was reading and writing about material that either I chose or my professor recommended to me). Moreover, I feel fortunate to both pursue research and produce creative works. Now, I am excited to wrap up my time at Rice by applying everything I have learned in my independent studies and my summer research to my Honors Thesis: a book of original poetry.