Spring Break at Rice

Spring has finally arrived to the city of Houston. After a rather cold and dreary winter, at least by Texas standards, the sun has finally decided to show its brilliant face. Through the stress of midterms and problem sets, we as a school have collectively survived. This has created bonds between each and every single one of us that are extremely difficult to break. And yes, I know what you’re thinking and the answer is no, not the covalent kinds. Within the eyes of each student, a subtle emotion of excitement exists. The academic year is coming to an end, summer is steadily approaching, and Beer Bike is only weeks away. All is good and all is right at Rice. As these positive thoughts fill our minds, another one begins to form. One that comes at a slow yet sure realization: “What am I going to do for Spring Break?”. The short answer is: there is tons to do both inside and outside of Houston during our break! Of course, I must acknowledge and respect the desire to stay indoors and simply relax for break. Afterall, allergy season is at full force. However, going out and exploring Houston and surrounding areas is a fun activity to do with the amazing individuals you meet at Rice. Here are my top three of the many things you can do during Spring Break:

Houston Rodeo

The Houston Rodeo is both a major fair of the city and the largest livestock exhibition of the world. It runs from the 25th of February to the 17th of March. Between then, be ready to experience near daily artist performances at the NRG stadium located about a 15 minute train-ride or 10 minute car-ride away from Rice. The NRG stadium sits around 70,000  people and can often host major performers like Cardi B and George Strait. This year, Rice’s Passport to Houston program offered free tickets for the Panic! At the Disco concert to selected Rice students.

Houston Rodeo

Visiting Hermann Park

Located a block from Rice, Hermann Park is a perfect place to escape the bustling city life of Houston. If you want to see even more trees and vegetation, this place is perfect for you. Dotted with sculptures and other art, Hermann Park is a 445 acre stretch of well gardened land surrounded by museums, golf courses, and a zoo. Inside the park, you will be able to find the Japanese Tea Gardens of Houston, the Miller Outdoor Theatre perfect for weekend performances, and the McGovern Centennial Gardens.

McGovern Centennial Gardens

Texas Road-trip with Friends

If you have the time, energy, and an amazing group of friends (which I’m sure you’ll make when in Rice), leaving Houston and traveling to cities like San Antonio and Dallas is a perfect week-long getaway that allows students to experience more of the proudly proclaimed “yee-haw” state. Bus companies like Greyhound and Megabus are able to offer cheap alternatives to cars for traveling to these places.

Tower of the Americas in San Antonio, Texas

 

A Homage to the Trees of Rice

As you may have known, Rice has a beautiful campus filled with memorable artistic structures and unique, Byzantine-styled buildings. However, when most visitors arrive on campus, this structural beauty is quickly overshadowed by the bountiful greenery that lies within the university grounds. A greenery that has allowed Rice to seamlessly become an acclaimed arboretum even while being located within the fourth largest city in the nation. Strikingly, it’s even been said that the number of trees on campus outnumber the entire undergraduate student population at Rice! This takes the designated “Tree Campus USA” title we got back in 2017 to an entirely different level.

As a student, I appreciate the almost ethereal sense of nature that the trees provide me with. They give shade to offset the sun’s heat in the summer months, a place for students to be able to relax or study, and, more importantly, they provide a home for Rice’s smaller residents: the squirrels. Each wooded path you may encounter portrays a different side of Rice—one which reminds you of your humanity and clears your mind from the transitory things in life that may be experienced. At around every corner, you will undoubtedly be greeted by one of over 4,300 trees on campus, each of which contain their own history by acting as symbols of significance and longevity.

As a tree lover, I really enjoy to simply be lost in the presence of trees. Whether this be achieved by either leaning against a tree-trunk while enjoying a good book next to Fondren Library or by jamming out to a Beyoncé song under the canopy of my favorite tree near Brochstein Pavilion is up to the mood I feel or want to feel. This ambiguity allows each tree to represent something different for each individual. It allows students to create their own atmosphere and to be able recognize trees as integral constituents of Rice’s culture of wellbeing.

A morning at ease.

McSkate

The Sunday before finals week, I went ice-skating with a bunch of my friends from McMurtry, my residential college. McMurtry had reserved the ice rink in the Galleria, one of Houston’s largest malls. We had the whole ice rink to ourselves, and we skated, laughed, fell (well, those who had never been ice-skating before, like me, did), and created memories. With the help of my roommate and another friend, I learned how to ice-skate! I managed to go around the rink six times without falling – progress!

McMurty was not the only residential college that had an ice-skating outing. Residential colleges do events like this – off-campus and on-campus – at various times during the year. There are study breaks, cultural events, etc.

What the residential colleges do is an extension of what Rice does for its students. In between all of the tests, papers, and projects, there is fun – room to relax and enjoy being with friends. During finals week, Rice brought dogs to Fondren, the library. I, along with many other students, got to pet adorable dogs to de-stress.

Whether it’s ice-skating at the mall or petting dogs in the library, at Rice, there are plenty of opportunities to have a great time with people you care about.

Salman Khan’s Rice Commencement Speech 2012

Salman Khan was the commencement speaker this year at Rice University’s 99th commencement ceremony. “Khan is the founder of the Khan Academy, a free online education platform and not-for-profit organization that has made waves in the field of education. In 2004, Khan’s online tutorials for a young cousin gained a wider audience, and five years later he turned his collection of free educational videos into the online Khan Academy. Today, his more than 3,200 online tutorials attract 6 million viewers every month, and Time magazine recently named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people.” — Alyson Ward (writer in Public Affairs at Rice University, the full article is listed below).

Article: Khan urges graduates to ‘increase the positivity in the world’

YouTube Video: Salman Khan at Rice University’s 2012 Commencement

Congratulations to the Class of 2012!

Here’s to the Rice University Class of 2012! Each and every one of you deserve nothing but the highest commendation and respect. What an honor it is to graduate from such an amazing University!

Graduation from Rice is full of tradition: Every year since Rice was established in 1912, students matriculate into Rice by walking through the Sally Port (the main entrance of the most recognizable building on campus) from outside to inside, into the academic quad, representing the student’s entering into Rice. Furthermore, as per tradition, the graduating students walk back under the Sally Port after commencement, completing the cycle – graduating from Rice (photo to the right).

Below is a photo collage I’ve created complied of photographs from the graduation commencement this year at Rice. As you look through the collage, you will see various small ‘neck-bibs’ that the Rice graduates are wearing, the different colors here represent the different schools people are graduating from: George R. Brown School of EngineeringSchool of HumanitiesShepherd School of MusicWiess School of Natural SciencesSchool of Social Sciences, and Interdisciplinary and Other Academic Programs (eg. Cognitive Sciences, Applied Physics Program, click here for more examples). The different colored sashes people have draped around their neck represent which of the eleven colleges they are graduating with. Congratulations Class of 2012, you did it!

Photo credit belongs to: Chelsea F, Jacqueline R, Annie B, Zachary F, & Mathison I.