The days leading up to the start of my freshman year were nerve wracking. I was terrified of moving away from home. After years of living on the same street, in the same house, with the same group of friends, I never thought I would be able to make connections with the people around me. Now my phone is littered with group photos from my first semester here and not only do I have friends, I have a family here.
It all started with my roommate and my floor. A family was already built for me where I lived on Brown 2nd – we even had a floorsgiving together! I could not be more grateful for those that live around me.
Brown College’s 2nd Floor Floorsgiving
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.
Rice’s foreign language program is an excellent resource for both fluent speakers and first time language learners. However, like most incoming freshmen, I struggled with the idea of continuing my French studies in college: I loved foreign language classes in high school and wanted to continue, but at the same time I didn’t know if I was ready to allocate time from my busy schedule for French. Wonder what taking a language at Rice is like? Here is some information based on my experience with the foreign language program.
- The faculty are very supportive. My French professor, Dr. Couti, has helpful and easily accessible office hours. I often bring my rough drafts to her office hours and receive valuable criticism for grammar, spelling, and clarity; I can attribute most of my improvement in French to these helpful office hours! If you choose to take a language class and find yourself struggling, do not be afraid to ask for help from your prof: they love talking about language to their students!
- Language classes tend to be smaller discussion based classes. In fact, my French class has three other students in it! While small class sizes may seem more daunting due to there being more pressure on you to speak and contribute, I can assure you that your classmates will be supportive and understanding, even through the errors: after all, speaking is the number one way to improve fluency in a foreign language, and you’ll be surrounded by other students who empathize with your language journey! At Rice, we’re here for you, even when you miss conjugate a verb or forget an idiomatic expression.
- First year language classes are perhaps some of the greatest elective classes you could take! A few of my friends are taking first year Japanese and love to talk about what they’re learning at lunch. What sets Rice’s first year language classes apart is how the department designs them to be as encouraging as possible. Usually, there are around 20 people a class (yay to not learning language in a big lecture hall!) and there is a cultural club for almost all of the languages, where you can interact with fluent speakers who will be more than happy to help you with any troubles.
Rayzor Hall, home of the language program at Rice, as seen from the inner loop.
I would definitely recommend taking a language at Rice! Our amazing language department makes learning language in college accessible and so much less daunting. Continue learning the language you’ve been practicing for years, or start fresh with a new one – the choice is yours!
Function Name: August
Input: Nervousness, homesickness, uncertainty
Output: Surprise, warmth, and culture of care
- Participate in I-PREP (International-Preparation and Regulatory Education Program) and O-Week to experience the craziest and funniest week of your life, receive postcards and personal letters written wholeheartedly by o-week advisors on move-in day and a group of o-week brothers and sisters whom you dine with every week.
- Meet with tons of interesting people during lunch and dinner without feeling awkward (since everyone is extremely nice and welcoming).
Function Name: September
Input: Mid-Autumn Festival and Mid-Terms
Output: Fulfillment and Loss
- Participate in the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival celebration that is open to the Rice community, enjoy Roast Duck and a rich Chinese cuisine, watch special performances in the RMC grand hall, make lanterns and moon cakes.
- Have three mid-terms in three consecutive weeks and being completely crushed by your COMP140 (an introductory computer science course) mid-term.
Function Name: October
Input: Adventure in Houston
Output: Surprise, satisfaction, better knowledge on Houston
- Explore Chinese and South Asian restaurants in Rice Village and China Town (which is 15-20min away from Rice).
- Enjoy delicious Velvet tacos with your o-week advisor in Montrose and sing musicals loudly together in his car.
- Eat rich California bowl and ramen in Japanese restaurant Jinya Ramen with friends (you can easily get there by free metro).
- Go on a trip to NASA’s Space Center with OISS (Office of International Students and Scholars) to learn about space and rockets.
- Ice-skating, shopping, and eating fantastic cheesecake and California Omelet in Galleria (a huge shopping center in Houston).
- Walk along the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Natural Science, and have a FWIS (First-Year Writing Intensive Seminar) class at the Sicardi Gallery where you get to see artworks from the artists you study in class.
- Wander inside Hermann Park and watch the swans on the lake or enjoy a performance celebrating Argentinean culture in the Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park.
Function Name: November
Input: Celebration and “Cold” Weather
Output: Contentment, international cuisine, beautiful dorm decorations, increase resistance to cold weather
- Learn to make Mexican paper flowers and paper-cutting hosted by the CLIC (center for language and intercultural communication) and watch a music performance in the Discovery Green Park in Downtown on Day of the Dead (and it happens to be your birthday, whoohoo!).
- Watch your all-time favorite Phantom of the Opera show in the Hobby Theater.
- Cook authentic Chinese food in your college kitchen!
- Have a delicious Thanksgiving lunch with OISS and being interviewed by the cameraman.
- Feeling frustrated for the extremely cold weather (yes for someone from southern part of China 2℃ is SUPER cold!).
- Enjoy all your classes and become good friends with your COMP140 group mates.
Remark: These are the four meaningful months I spent at Rice, and as you can see, I really enjoy my time here. Of course there were losses and frustrations, but Rice’s culture of care helped me get through the tough time and push myself further: I came in as a novice who has absolutely zero knowledge in computer programming, and now I can even write a blog in programming recipe format! I really appreciate what Rice had helped me accomplish and am excited to continue the rest of my journey at Rice!
When I was first deciding on a college to attend, I was initially discouraged about coming to Rice because I am a Humanities major. I thought that I would feel inadequate and less worthy surrounded by brilliant pre-med minds and the future engineers of the world. I was also fearful of the idea that as a Humanities major I would be unable to have the same opportunities as the rest of my classmates. As my first semester at Rice nearly comes to an end (thankfully), I”ve reflected on the fact that I love studying Humanities at Rice.
While some of my classmates are stressed out about Chem midterms and others are struggling with computer science classes, I am fighting battles of my own. Readings of more than 300 pages per week and constantly writing essays is just as difficult as all the other academic challenges that my classmates are facing. Rather than fulfilling the scary perception that I had established in my mind of STEM majors, I’ve found the Rice community to be very encouraging and collaborative. After making the mistake of taking a calculus class for pure joy purposes (when it wasn’t necessary at all for my major), I’ve had the opportunity to bond with individuals from a variety of different majors, ranging from biochemistry to civil engineering to physics. Despite the fact that I am not the smartest person when it comes to optimization and integrals, they have never discredited my intelligence and have instead tried to find ways to help me understand hard concepts. I love the Rice community of caring and unconventional wisdom because people always receive my inquiries and doubts with open arms.
I am the first person to admit that academic life at Rice is challenging, stressful and never-ending at times. However, I’ve come to cherish the TA sessions and long hours spent at the library because of the amazing,helpful people I’ve met along the way.
Although Rice has great dining options, sometimes the food can get monotonous. It’s at times like these that my friends and I use the extremely helpful Rice Village Shuttle and explore the variety of dining options at Rice Village. Here are some of my top picks, restaurants that I frequent on Friday nights after a hard week of school.
Local Foods: As a vegetarian, I am always on the look-out for filling, delicious vegetarian food. Local Foods, located at a 20-minute walk from Rice and easily accessible through the Rice Village Shuttle, never fails to disappoint. Their sandwiches and salads are bursting with flavor, and their desserts are pretty good too! I would recommend the Garden Sammie- a sandwich stuffed with curried cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and hummus- it’s one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten!
Thai Village: Sometimes I have a very specific craving for Thai food, and Thai Village always comes to the rescue. Located in Rice Village, they also deliver food, and their speedy delivery of Drunken Noodles has powered many of my weekend study sessions! I would recommend Thai Village for their variety of options, reasonable prices, and excellent Drunken Noodles, fried rice and Pad Thai!
Hopdoddy: This burger joint is not the best choice for vegetarians, but they have a great veggie burger. I would recommend Hopdoddy for their sinfully delicious milkshakes, well-seasoned fries, and lively atmosphere. It’s a great spot to celebrate with your friends, or take your date to for Screw-Yer-Roommate!
And for all the times you’re really lazy and don’t feel like going off campus, The Hoot comes to the rescue! The Hoot is an on-campus, student-run late night food business, and they sell a variety of food options, ranging from Banh Mi to Pizza to Chick-fil-A sandwiches. The Hoot always comes in handy when hunger pangs hit you late at night on a weekday, and I have made many happy memories sharing a cheese pizza from The Hoot at midnight!