As we look forward to a week of connections between students here at Stanford University in California and students at University of Sydney, Australia, we thought we’d give our Australian partners a brief glimpse of what life is like here at the “Farm”.
Stanford University was founded in 1891, in memorial of Leland Stanford Jr., the Stanford’s only son who died of typhoid at the age of 15. Originally, the university was established on a horse farm, giving it the nickname “The Farm.” It opened as a co-ed university, rare for its time, and since then has become a world class research institution. Located in Palo Alto, California, it is in the heart of Silicon Valley, home to entrepreneurs that share the Stanford’s brave risk-taking spirit.
Stanford welcomes about 1700 incoming undergraduate students every year. They are all required to take the first year writing requirement, taught by the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, which teaches rhetorical analysis and research-based writing. In the second year, all students take a course on presenting research.
The student body is extremely diverse, with students attending from over 33 countries. All first year students live on campus, giving the school a strong residential family feel. The school mascot is the Tree and its greatest rival is University of California Berkeley. During “Big Game” week, students wear t-shirts that say “Beat Cal” or even “Fear the Tree.”
We asked our writing students to answer several questions to help us write this introduction, including:
- What is it like to study at Stanford University?
- What do you think Sydney students would be surprised to learn about Stanford student life or culture?
- What do you think student life is like at the University of Sydney, Australia?
- How would you describe Australian society and culture?
- What questions do you have for the students at University of Sydney?
Below is a selection of their answers.
1. What is it like to study at Stanford University?
So far, my peers are all amazing. All of my discussion leaders, such as TA’s and grad students, are good …. However, the lectures are incredibly distancing, especially for this one class called Intro to Humanities, for which we cannot use our computers for notes. My favorite class is PWR, this class for which we are meeting you. It’s all about writing, and persuasion, and it’s awesome.
The experience is one of extremely hard work interspersed with great social moments. Stanford is home to the smartest people I have ever met, and in a way it is humbling. Additionally, it is a place of concentrated opportunity. There are few places you could, for example, take an introductory series with one of the fathers of string theory. Again, it is a heavy workload, but I should think worthwhile.
Although you attend all your classes, studying is mainly independent. You have to make the effort to study and do your homework, no one is going to remind you when it is homework time or that certain assignments are due tomorrow. However, there is the plus side of working with other people on problem sets and other homework. It is encouraged by the professors to work with other people as team work is a great skill to have.
It is an amazing opportunity. There are so many brilliant students and faculty here, and we have access to tons of resources. There is so much going on here, it is difficult to be involved in all the extra curricular activities that you’d like and balance school work.
Stanford University is a very exciting place to study at. There are always things to do and you’re always kept working at a very fast pace. The faculty here is very friendly and unlike most other universities in the United States, they usually also allow students to call them by their first name, which creates a very friendly atmosphere. So basically, studying at Stanford is fun, exciting, and never boring.
It’s really fun and intense. There are just too many things you want to study, and you have to pick only a few. The classes are very inspiring and often leave me in deep thought. For just the past two weeks, I have thought about things I have never thought about before, and have used and sprained muscles I have never used before.
2. What do you think Sydney students would be surprised to learn about Stanford life and culture?
Stanford doesn’t just have the smart kids. Stanford students challenge themselves academically, as is expected, but they also socialize a lot. Stanford students are also good at sports, but they aren’t the typical dumb jock if they play sports. The athletes here are smart, and they can keep up with the rest of the student body.
For a seemingly academic-centered institution, its students are unbelievably athletic. It has been ranked the top school for athletics in the United States for seventeen straight years, and even those who do not play for a team play or do some sport regularly.
There are many traditions that are scattered throughout the year that the whole school participates in (ie. Band Run, Full Moon on the Quad), but mainly I think it is the amazingly friendly and open minds of everyone that provides a comforting and warm environment that anyone could find his or her place in.
The sale and possession of alcohol is illegal to students under age of 21 as a national law…. Full tuition and board costs 60,000 AUD per year (58,000 USD)
3. What do you think student life is like at University of Sydney?
I read a statistic somewhere saying that most students in Australia don’t live on campus but somewhere else, so I would imagine there’s an issue of a lack of a community feel at Australia universities.
I think it’s similar to life here at Stanford. I honestly don’t know much about the University of Sydney, Australia, but most colleges are the same in that there are those kids who push themselves to achieve goals, and there is the social scene that everybody wants to be of part.
I would expect it to be similarly work-heavy and academically weighted. Past that, I do not know much about the programs, extracurriculars, or character of the school, so I cannot really judge.
I think it must be very similar to Stanford as a place where a large amount of students come to study and develop their passions and knowledge. Also, I think their school spirit is probably just as high as ours, but probably not in football but rather rugby or field hockey.
Probably of similar nature in some regards – lots of work, lots of sun, lots of really cool, interesting people. Probably different in other areas – school calendar? different sports, different culture, teachers. etc.
Probably similar to Stanford except with better accents.
I think that student life at the University of Sydney is very similar to here in terms of relaxed culture and activity-packed days, but there might be more nightlife than here because it is located in the middle of a city.
I believe student life at the University of Sydney is probably similar to student life at Stanford. However, I do imagine that it has a different global perspective and culture that is unique to that institution.
4. How would you describe Australian society and culture?
Funny words: duner, not comforter. Capsucin, not bell pepper. And aluminium, not aluminum. Sort of the same yet different: because it has a British foundation, it’s sort of the same. Yet because Australia’s geography, flora, and fauna are so exotic, there are some unique aspects to its culture.
I would describe Australian culture as very rich. I think all cultures have something special and different about them and to learn more about the Australian culture would be a wonderful experience for me since I haven’t really been introduced to a variety of cultures. Also, being Native Hawaiian, I could possibly relate to the Australian culture, and it would be nice to make some comparisons between cultures too.
Most of the world is pretty well homogenized. As a description, I would not say Australia is not too staggeringly different from any other developed country, but then I would not say any country is.
One of the most economically and socially developed countries in the world with a laid back attitude (I have never been so I have no idea). I can’t think of an Australian that I’ve met with a disagreeable ethos.
Friendly, sunny, clean, vegemite,
Americans love Aussies!! They love Australian accents, and their distinct vocabulary (for example using the words jumpers for sweatshirts, bubblers for water fountains, boots for car trunks, etc). I know there are lots of cool animals in Australia like kangaroos, wallabies, and poisonous snakes and jellyfish. I think people are more relaxed in Australia. Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere so their seasons are reversed from ours. So I think that means that our Fall would be their Spring? That would be very confusing for someone who’s lived in the Northern Hemisphere all their life.
I heard there was a big divide between the urban and rural culture in Australia. (perhaps even bigger than the divide in the United States). The city seems very cosmopolitan, and there seems to be a large percentage of people who were born in other countries.
The Australian society and culture is, like the student life, very similar to here. When I visited Australia this past summer, I found everyone to be extremely polite, kind, and helpful. The Australian people are definitely much more open to others than we are.
5. What questions do you have for students at the University of Sydney?
Do people really wear Uggs as often as girls here do? The policemen wear shorts, right? Have you ever fed a kangaroo? What is your opinion on the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef?
Does everyone have an awesome accent? How does education work there? What classes do you have to take? Is there a special system for freshmen? Is your school big on sports? What sports do you have?
What is your academic experience like?
What cool traditions do you have that everyone participates in?
What’s it like living in Australia? Are kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies common? Have you seen the movie Finding Nemo? Do you think that it has an accurate portrayal of Sydney Australia?
What do you do in your down time other than partying?
What rumors have you heard about Stanford University?
I would like to ask the students at the University of Sydney to describe their life, culture, and society. I think it would be highly interesting to hear from students from that part of the world.
A few more Stanford photos: