They say, “Dreams do come true.” That is how I felt when I found out that I had been accepted to Stanford University. Besides being located in California, what appealed to me about Stanford was the freedom to cross academic boundaries and essentially create my own course of study. Ever since the sixth grade, my aspiration has always been to become a doctor, but art has always had a special appeal to me. Stanford enables me to stay on the pre-med track while being able to dabble in the arts.

Leland Stanford Junior University, more commonly known as Stanford University, is located in Stanford, California approximately 30 miles south of San Francisco. Today the 8,000+ acre campus is the second largest in the world and includes Stanford’s linear particle accelerator, or SLAC, and the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. Its location near Silicon Valley makes it a leading university in terms of computer science and technological advances. It has ties to world-changing companies such as Yahoo, Google and Hewlett-Packard.

After acceptance, most prospective freshmen, known as “ProFros” in proper Stanford jargon, attend Admit Weekend, a 3-day event that gives ProFros a glimpse of the Stanford life. I remember my first day of admit weekend clearly. As I drove down Palm Drive with my family, and entered the campus, I instantly fell in love with Stanford. The palm trees, Romanesque architecture, vivid blue skies and wonderful California weather were breathtaking.
I distinctly remember attending a lecture on sports medicine. I learned that most of human blood flows through our palms and feet, making them the places of maximum heat loss. I was fascinated by the invention that they had just come up with which cooled the palms and feet of athletes to keep enzymes in their bodies at optimum performance. I was amazed to find that professional athletes such as the San Francisco 49ers and Lance Armstrong used this piece of Stanford innovated technology.

The outstanding academic experience at Stanford is further enhanced by the endless extracurricular activities available. There is an “activities fair” at the beginning of each year with hundreds of clubs advertising in White Plaza—the heart of student life at Stanford. I remember walking through the activities fair for the very first time and putting my name down on every email list. The next thing I knew I was being bombarded by emails; but it really helped me get involved and find out what student groups were doing at Stanford. These ranged from the Kayak Club, to Stanford’s pre-med association, to a club focusing on stem-cell research. Stanford offers a vast variety of clubs and extracurricular activities, as well as a diverse student body.

Overall, Stanford provides a big-campus experience. Most students bike around the large campus, whizzing by on the way to their next class. Stanford also has a world-class sports program making all sports events quite exciting. Many of the student athletes at Stanford are training for the Olympics or are national placing athletes. In the autumn quarter, the biggest sport is American football and students walk to the stadium to watch the Stanford Cardinal dominate. All sports events are free for students and I think they are a great place to go with friends and have a good time.

Freshman year for me was quite a blur of learning, living and making friends. It took a while to get used to Stanford’s quarter system (we have 3 quarters in an academic year as opposed to 2 semesters), but I now find that it is a built-in opportunity to explore further at Stanford. Throughout the year, especially during the crunch of midterms many of us doubted our being at Stanford—if we could survive here. But we have all realized that we do indeed belong, and that there is a place for everyone at Stanford.