Friday, June 12, 2009

Stanford Revisited

Hi all. I'm back! After graduation, I spent a few days with my parents visiting my dad's family in Pennsylvania, and then I came back to San Francisco to resume my (fairly horrible) bar review classes.

I am living at my parents' place in San Francisco but commuting to Palo Alto every day to take my bar class at Stanford Law School. It's sort of a pain in the keester to have to drive for 45 minutes to get to class every day (and then spend another fifteen minutes parking on campus in one of the shiny new structures that definitely did not exist when I went to school there) but at least the drive along 280 is gorgeous, and I'm back at my alma mater, where it's always sunny, everyone is in shape, and there are red-tile roofs as far as the eye can see.

Being back at Stanford four years after I graduated is sort of weird, because now I feel like a bit of an outsider. I have to park in a visitor parking lot, I had to give myself guest access to Stanford wireless by creating a guest password for myself through my alumni account (what?), I can't get into buildings that require a student ID, and I'm surrounded by structures and plants and statues that weren't there back when I was a youth. For example, yesterday I was walking through White Plaza, the main plaza with all the fountains and old-style Spanish buildings and such, and I noticed that there are new, weird trees planted in front of the student union. This bothered me. Then, I walked into the little cafe in the union that I used to frequent, intending to get a cup of coffee, and I noticed that the coffee shop now sells frozen yogurt. The pure unfairness of this development cut me to the core: why wasn't there froyo available when I went there? All we had was stupid Jamba Juice. Waaaah, not fair!

But some things at Stanford never change: there are still Asian girls wearing white socks under black strappy heels, long-haired kids playing frisbee in any available open space, anorexic women running maniacally around Campus Drive at all hours, and a general sense of slightly forced, but nonetheless pleasant, sunny cheeriness. I miss it, to be honest. It's definitely a far cry from HLS, where women in pumps drag rolling suitcases to and from the library, people bust out bathing suits whenever the temperature rises about 45 degrees, and the closest thing to whimsy on campus is the skating rink/volleyball court outside of the Hark. But, strangely, I miss HLS, too, and I even feel a bit more connected to it than I do to Stanford right now.

I guess one's relationship with one's undergrad is always going to be a bit different that the relationship with one's grad school, especially when those two schools are as diametrically different as Stanford and Harvard. Stanford has its obvious charms: the wackiness, the palm trees, the sunshine, the laid-back attitude, the froyo. Harvard, too, has its appeal: the prestige, the white columns, the bagels on Monday mornings, the free tampons in the law school bathrooms.

When it comes down to it, I could never really pick a "favorite" between the two schools because they each played such different roles in my life and contributed to my growth as a person in different ways. I mean, when I started Stanford, I was 18 and I didn't know my a** from my elbow or s**t from shinola. By the time I graduated, I knew my a** from my elbow but was still a bit hazy on the s**t/shinola distinction. My intervening year in Brazil and three years at law school helped with that, although some of the legal s**t is still looking pretty shinola-y. I am hoping Barbri will help me with this.

I'll wrap this up by saying that in the end, despite all the great things about Harvard, it's pretty hard to beat that special Stanford smell of eucalyptus and flowers. And, of course, the froyo.


  1. Anonymous7:51 AM

    Interesting to hear your thoughts. Hope you are successful in your class at Stanford as you prepare to seize the world and pass the bar.

    Mike Emerson

  2. Hi this is Alexandre from Sao Paolo. Congratulations on your graduacao from HLS. It sounds like things are goin very well with you!

  3. they have froyo at stanford now? can you imagine just cruising over to white plaza versus driving to redwood city? haha

  4. I do not necessarily expect a Stanford grad to know shit from shinola-- but I do expect her to actually write out "shit."