Fountain hopping and FOMO: Frosh fall on the Farm

Shortly after she moved in, Greta Holmes ’27 was already dipping her toes into Stanford’s culture — literally. On her first night on campus, Holmes and her fellow Branner residents organized an unofficial orientation event: a fountain-hopping tour of campus. 

Ruby Coulson’s ’27 favorite moment came before Holmes had even stepped foot onto campus. She said that Ignite, the Haas Center’s student-led pre-orientation program, made her transition onto campus “so amazing.”

The program, which happens during the weekend prior to orientation, is meant to introduce frosh to public service and one another. Coulson specifically learned about health equity service in and around Stanford. She said she learned “a ton about public narrative, the stories we tell to communities and the Haas Center.” 

“The Haas Center did a spectacular job at balancing meeting new people with getting involved with the community,” Coulson said. 

Matthew Han ’27 noted small things that made campus exciting, like hanging out with friends and meeting new people. 

The class of 2027 began New Student Orientation a week before classes started on Sept. 19, bringing together frosh from around the country and world. Thus far, a focus of many students as they get acclimated to their new environment has been getting to know one another.

It hasn’t been all sunshine and fountains though. In addition to the actual rain that graced campus on the first day of classes, frosh have been facing some challenges in the major life adjustment. 

Han, who hails from Pennsylvania, said homesickness has been difficult. Being thousands of miles away from his family has made the transition harder. While plenty of Stanford students are from California, about 60% of undergraduates are from out-of-state or out-of-country, so Han’s struggles are shared with a large portion of his community. 

Holmes, who is also from thousands of miles away (Portland, Maine), echoes that it’s hard to “start fresh in a totally new place.” 

For Coulson, difficulty lies in decision paralysis.

“One of my new friends wisely said that there’s a perpetual FOMO [fear of missing out] on this campus, since there is always a club meeting or office hours or a hangout,” Coulson said. “Sometimes picking what I’m interested in can be harder than the actual event itself.” 

While many frosh have dedicated energy to being physically present with their classmates, many expressed that it will likely take more time to go beyond surface-level connections. 

“It’s difficult to try to find people who I feel like I really connect with without knowing anyone for much time, but it’s definitely easier now that NSO is over and I’m getting to know people better in a little bit of a more natural way,” Holmes said. Though it may not be happening as quickly as she said she would like, she’s excited “to meet people from all over the country and the world.” 

Han is similarly eager to “find new communities.” As is Coulson, who says she “can’t wait to take and be able to learn from my peers and professionals in a setting that [she] can’t find anywhere else.” 

“Everyone here has something they care about deeply and I love to hear about it from them and learn about their stories,” she said. 

Holmes, Coulson and Han are all excited for the upcoming academic year and to establish their place here. 

“[It’s been] really surreal knowing that it’s more than just a school — it’s home for the next four years,” Han said.


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