Parachutes, Rabbits & Astronomy: HU Students narrate their first week at Stanford

Moizza Salahuddin, one of the eight Habib University students currently attending the Stanford Summer International Honors Program (SSIHP), writes the first part to her travel log.

As I write this, I look out from the window towards Branner Hall, our on-campus residence. The wind smells strongly of California redwood. These barks cover all tree trunks and lie among autumn leaves dressing the soil underfoot. Stanford romances red; from building tops to old redwood barks to a sky that embraces its color at dusk.

In a campus that spans the size of a city itself, its fun to get lost unless you’re getting late for class! I was lost on my way to class once and ended up finding a big rabbit casually hopping about! I am amazed to see how Stanford still manages to give these small animals a safe environment despite all the construction that is almost always underway. (Beware: I am a nature romantic and I can go about this all day.)

Osama bin Rizwan (left) and Hasan Naqvi.

Osama bin Rizwan (left) and Hasan Naqvi.

And the campus is just as homely and comfortable for us. Although an electrical engineering student at HU, Hasan Naqvi along with Osama bin Rizwan, is pursuing Sustainable Design Thinking and Technological Entrepreneurship – two courses counter intuitively divergent yet essential for their engineering training. With courses as creative as that, the engineer also found an innovative way to work: he found himself a fountain and sat there with his laptop at 1 in the morning. “It was so peaceful, so quiet. I felt safe. That’s what I wanted: that residential experience of living on campus and having the freedom to roam about all hours of the night.” (Remember what I said about the natural serenity of this place?)

Around the same time at night, if you see Anas Masood making his way back to Branner in the dark, he’s probably coming back from the Stanford University Observatory. “My observational astronomy class is really cool. Stanford Observatory has two telescopes, one 16 inch and another 24 inch telescope with resolution of 4 seconds to 8 seconds.”

Anas also told us how he heard coyotes howling on his way back from the Observatory, like something straight out of a movie! The vibrant wildlife at Stanford is amazing; Anas almost stepped on a skunk on his way back on the first day, much to all our amusement.

Anas Masood

Anas Masood

On Wednesday, Sumbul Zehra, Sana Rizwan and Hareem Salman went Fountain Hopping ‘in true Stanford tradition’ — Sana would say. The idea behind the tradition is very simple. You find yourself a fountain (there are plenty) and go hop in the water (extremely fun!). The three went along with a group of other people from the International Honors Program.

Only the fourth day since arrival and with very little familiarity with the people around us, it was only a moment’s hesitation before they mingled and got to know their new soon-to-be friends. “Because we’re not a very big group, we had to socialize and make sure we found ways to have fun. Once we did that, it was really nice,” said Sana. I remember seeing the three of them walking back to our residence hall, shuddering the entire way. “Aik second mein garmi hoti hai, aik second mein sardi hoti hai, aur kia!” (In one second it becomes hot, and in one second it becomes cold) Hareem laughs.

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