Stanford Quarterly Reflection (Y1Q1)

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Life changes slowly and then all at once. I started at Stanford University on September 19th, 2023, an “all at once” day that began the rest of my life. It is no small thing to leave the home you’ve known all your life for a place as strange as Stanford. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to do so and for the people who have made that possible. It turns out to be a wonderful kind of strange.

This past quarter felt like being thrown onto a bucking horse, breaking it, and immediately turning it toward the racetrack and joining a heat that was already underway.1 It was immediately fun.

§ General Philosophizing on the Subject of People

People are supremely important. Having people you care about to eat with when the evening comes—this one thing can make anywhere feel like home. This is not a profound realization, but it is one that I have come to through my time here.

I have been extremely lucky to be joined at Stanford by one of my best friends from high school. It’s completely cheating: I am certain that the transition would have been far more difficult on my own. To leave home and be totally alone is an experience I still have not had: when I moved to Stanford I had Vivek.

I have been further showered with folks who I am grateful for, new friends that—as anyone who has gone off to college will tell you—I already feel like I’ve known all my life. What I most want to say is this: when I went off to college, it was my most sincere hope that I would meet remarkable people. I have found this sort of person at Stanford in abundance, and nowhere more than with you, my friends.

Thank you Jack, for welcoming me into your home—and giving me a potato for my shelf. Thank you Josh, for debating with me the linguistic intricacies of Hebrew curse words. Thank you Daniel, Riya, and Amalia, for hanging out with me in far-flung cities; it’s remarkable to land somewhere strange and have friends there to welcome you. And thank you Kelly, for introducing me to Corner, and more importantly being everything for everyone in difficult times.

And to all those with whom I shared food, ran around in the cold, stayed up into the wee hours of the night, and woke up for in the early morning to go lift; it’s been a lifetime these few short months and I am amazed I have been able to spend it with you.

§ Specific Commentary on the Subject of Academics

I took six classes, which I found after a confused two-week sprint where I picked up and quickly dropped, among others, a three-hour long comparative literature class.2 My schedule eventually settled into the following:

  1. CS 106B: Programming Abstractions
  2. ARABLANG 1A: Accelerated First Year Arabic
  3. HISTORY 81B: Contemporary Middle East
  4. CS 7: Personal Finance for Engineers
  5. PHYSICS 59: Frontiers of Physics Research
  6. ECON 3: Big Ideas Lecture Series

I loved this schedule, and am quite lucky to have stumbled into it. Sean, my 106B professor, is wonderful and an endless well of millennial, self-deprecating positive energy. I hope nothing ever stays that spirit. My Arabic professor Khaled has an incredible tendency to launch off on half-hour long tangents in the middle of a lesson. It was in his class that I saw my name for the first time:


We had already learned the alphabet when Khaled used my name as an example. I looked up at the chalkboard in amazement.3 When did I first see my name in English or Hebrew? This time, I snapped a picture.

HISTORY 81B fell into the trap of most Middle Eastern history courses: it taught the same old Arab-centric narrative, depriving all characters of agency and giving the state of the region an air of inevitability. I took it to hang out with Vedant and Hassan—which I did! Our post-class coffee routine caused me to be late to Arabic on many an occasion. I also enjoyed our final project, which I published here as stylistic practice for an eventual submission to the ACX book review contest.4

The final three classes were all speaker series. Whenever I tell this to upperclassmen, they universally respond with a shoulder pat and a wistful gaze as they reflect back on when they were young and naive and took speaker series. I hope I never come to adopt this position: I think they’re the greatest. In PHYSICS 59 I heard the sound of a single atom moving. CS 7 filled a huge gap in my knowledge and helped me contextualize my finances.5 And ECON 3 is one of those classes that can only exist with the unique resources found here.

§ Other Rattlings of the Mind

The observation of change is a difficult thing. I find it almost impossible to embody the version of myself that was once living so differently.

The blank slate of college is a canvas for personal change. I’m trying to use it to live as intentionally as possible.6 When you are in control of all the facets of your life, why not design it?

The amount of distinct events that occur each day in my life on this campus is incredible. Perhaps one of the things I appreciate most about Stanford is this compression of time and space. There are so many people doing so many things here, that each day doesn’t truly feel complete until something unique and memorable has occurred. Last night, for example, I spontaneously dropped in on a class in the law school a friend of mine is taking that just so happens to be taught by the father of a high school friend.7 How glorious!

§ Looking Forward

The second quarter is already upon us. This time around there will be a lot more writing of papers. And yet, I am sure it will be—as this last quarter has been—genuinely exceptional.

עם ישראל חי


I have never done anything remotely like this. It is a metaphor. Your horse-wrangling mileage may vary.


COMPLIT 214: Shipwrecks and Backlands, mostly inspired by an excellent course on surreal Latin American literature in high school; thalassic Iberian literature seemed like a good next step. Ultimately, I thought the discussion format combined with the extended duration made it not a good fit for what I would like to do at Stanford. I was also briefly in SYMSYS 1: Minds and Machines, but was told that I would receive several zeroes on the first week’s work and my grade would suffer. I believe that’s not how the shopping period is supposed to work, so I dropped out in search of classes excited to have me.


I know, right? Chalkboard! I’d never really seen one of those before. Amusing that in the middle of Silicon Valley, the chalkboard is alive and well in the depths of Main Quad.


War of Return was not assigned specifically, we were just tasked with writing a book review. The review I will eventually submit to the ACX contest will likely have decreased usage of “Ibid.”


Let it also be known that the lecturer, Adam Nash, is extremely cool, has nice hair, and writes a blog of his own.


Sleep well, be jacked.


Because, it seems, taking law school classes as an undergraduate freshman is something you can do. If you’re insane.