Monday, August 25, 2008

The Exodus

I've just written about what I like about Stanford. Now comes the previously untold story of how I got here. "Here" being after Day 1 of Orientation. And not "How" like in a philosophical or historical sense, just how I drove up the 5 and stuff like that.

I drove up to Stanford a week ago Monday. For whatever reason (but probably because I hate doing paperwork and usually protest by doing it poorly), I did not get have any information on things like where I was living and where to meet for the get-to-know-the-class camping trip called SWEAT, (Some Weird and Eccentric Acronym-Thing). I thought it was Tuesday, but that was the end of my knowledge. I had learned by this point that my phone, which was a very nice PDA, did not do phone-things like receive calls ever and made them only when it felt like it. It was under these circumstances that I drove a Prius up to Stanford loaded with all of my earthly belongings. 15N->210W->5N = 7 hours.

The drive was mostly nice. I like Kettleman city, but decided to stop at Bakersfield instead because I was too hungry. After a half-hour of clogging my arteries, I continued on. It took me about 7 hours to reach Sacramento, where I would stay on Monday night with my buddy at Davis Med. We met up, and he pretended to study while we talked. I crashed at his place.

The next morning I left early and headed for Stanford. I didn't have a map of Stanford, but I did have one of California, so I followed signs into campus. Once there, I tried to find the housing office. Not knowing anything about Stanford, I was unsuccessful. I had found a single phone number online for the housing department, so I called that. After 4 attempts of failed transfers and leaving messages, I was finally connected to someone who knew where it was. I drove right there, told them my name, showed ID, and was given a key. Simple as that.

Having figured out my housing, I decided to call Josh, the guy who was leading the camping trip (and ironically enough, the guy who used to tell me to wash dishes at UCLA), and he told me where to be the next morning. I then moved all my stuff up to my room (6th floor).

The way my roommate wanted to partition the room, I've basically got a studio to myself (instead of a shared bedroom + living room), which is fine by me. I've got a great view of the campus from my window, and privacy. Not that I really understand privacy, having had at least one person sharing my room since college began (in one case, 3 others shared my room). I kinda like it, though I can see the potential for greed in having MY space (which should always expand and never be infringed upon); I've never really had the luxury, but am certainly enjoying it (hopefully with minimal greed).

The next day we left for SWEAT. I was driving for one of the car-camping groups. Just to save my precious reputation, I wanted to go with the hard-core backpackers, but for the aforementioned loathing of paperwork and procedure, didn't sign up early enough.

Our leader was a second year, and he guided us with his fancy phone GPS. We tried to meet another group of people in Stockton for lunch, one of the girls told us they drove south from where we were. It turned out that by "south" she really meant "north," but with corroboration by the GPS, we headed south. Once we were clearly outside of any recognizable city in "French Camp," I got off the freeway and turned around amidst cries of, "It's a GPS, it can't be wrong!" It turned out that it was. We ended up finding them and getting some really good Mexican food in a sketchy part of Stockton.

We arrived and the lounging began. The three days were filled with mostly eating and waiting to eat again. We did typical camp stuff (day hikes and swimming) the first day. When it came time to build a fire, nobody knew anything about fires (except me, of course, being an Eagle Scout). Not that I was particularly good at building fires, but, being the only backpacker, my paltry knowledge was sufficient to bedazzle the poor group of campers. The concept of tinder->kindling->fuel was black magic to those who looked on in awe of my powers to control the flames. So thus I established myself as the great and wise woodsman. You know what they say: "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." [As a side note, it was pointed out to me that the saying would be more accurate if it went "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is stoned to death," thought the traditional story was what applied to me.]

The second day we decided to go for another day hike. A group of us decided to extend the day hike into a long day hike. One girl said she wanted to do it, I said I'd go to, and before we knew it, another four people had peer-pressured each other into going. Fortunately at that point, nobody knew that it was probably 4 miles each way or else they would never have attempted it. So a group of green campers embarked on a journey that very well could have killed them. Fortunately, they all survived and with minimal griping, so little in fact that no violence was done even to the most whiney among us. Everyone was proud of themselves upon completing the journey.

The last day we did a skit. Being the car camping group, we had procrastinated our task of coming up with a skit until the last minute. We discovered that it was not the last minute, because other groups actually started after we did. In the end, we came up with a very funny skit mocking our own laziness. The other groups ranged from obscene to confused. After a little bit more socializing, we drove back home that night.

The weekend following SWEAT, I kept busy. I did a lot of sleeping in, a bit of shopping and lots of eating. I got a bike from Target so that I could be like everyone else. Normally a statement like that is hyperbole, but I'm pretty sure every one of us will own a bike by the end of this week. So I had to fit in. So I went to Target with two friends and we bought two bikes. We successfully fit two bikes and three people inside my Prius. That's right. It's a hybrid.

On Sunday I went with seven others to attend Abundant Life Christian Fellowship nearby. It was amazing! It looked like it used to be a Black Southern Baptist Church; it had a Gospel Choir, very upbeat music, and good, loud singing. The preacher was black, so the traditional white conservation of energy on the podium was not visible. There was no lack of power in the message, and more importantly, it was Biblically based. I'm going to try out some other churches, but I doubt I'll find anything better.

Orientation started today, and it was pretty, pretty, pretty good. We had a very inspirational speech by our Dean, an entertaining speech by our Associate Dean, and then a very interesting talk by an author/faculty member whose book I was supposed to have gotten and read. Neither had happened, the latter on account of the former, but the talk was very interesting nonetheless. We were supposed to have a 24-student discussion on ethics and balancing life with medicine which was quickly turned into a 6 student + 6 professor discussion.

In between all this were lots of breaks where I got to meet more and more of my class, who, as I previously described, are amazing.

Next Step
School starts officially on Thursday, and before then I've got a two-page of administrative things that I'm supposed to do. They're the kinds of things that nobody really wants to do, but are indicative of the developed world. Things like online registration and financial planning. I really like flying by the seat of my pants and am rather annoyed at having to use instruments.

I've got another two-day grace period of orientation, and Mom's coming on Wednesday, so I've got lots to distract me from the elephant in the room (the hardest class of my life starting full-force on Thursday). It's a pretty angry elephant, and I think addressing it further would only upset it, so until Thursday I plan to ignore it.

"Take no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof." - Matthew 6:34

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