The last time I was at Stanford, it was for a check-up with Dr. Steinberg to ensure that my operations back in 2008 were working. I remember an angiogram, an MRI, and too many IV’s for my liking. The time before that had been another scheduled check up, and the time before that had been my surgery. Essentially, my only experiences with Stanford thus far have been related to Moyamoya and keeping it at bay. This all changed a few weeks ago.

Back in early February, I was contemplating what I was going to do with my summer. Several of my friends had already secured internships, decided to go back to their camps as CIT’s, or pursue studies at summer programs. One day, while in Chemistry class, I saw my friend filling out an application. My curiosity sparked a conversation, and soon I became aware of one of the summer programs that Stanford offers.

“You better hurry up,” my friend said, “the app is due in a few weeks and there’s a ton to write.” I do not remember ever feeling such a drive to write. Not only did the course I chose interest me, but there was this desire to see the “other side” of Stanford: one of students, classes, dorms, and a campus; not of doctors, nurses, IV’s, and sterile white hallways. My understanding of Stanford — the thoughts that came to mind when the name was mentioned — was different than most going into this summer.

Several months later, I arrived at my dorm, excited and nervous. This was the first time I had been away from my family for over a week. I was there to study International Relations at one of the summer programs for high schoolers. Over the course of the next few weeks, I met intelligent, inspiring people from all across the world, made lifelong friendships, and learned a lot. My first time walking across the campus — I got lost due to my terrible sense of direction — I was awestruck at its size and unique beauty. The red tiled roofs and palm trees, as well as the fountains completed the relaxed yet lively environment. The people I met at Stanford transformed my experience. While one may be able to see all that I did as a tourist or visitor, the professors, graduates, students, and fellow classmates that I interacted with expanded my perspectives on life and taught me more about myself in the process. Sure, I learned tons about the global economy and the ways that countries interact with each other, but I also learned what it meant to be independent, make lasting friendships of my own, and explore a sprawling campus and decide what my place there looked like. In short, I experienced, albeit for a brief time, what it felt like to be a college student.

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