I arrived at Stanford just over a week ago and I'm starting to get settled in now. You can take a look at photos of my apartment and the campus.
It's a pretty nice place. It's a 4-bedroom place with two bathrooms and a nice kitchen and common area and quite a lot of space for storage. The complex it's in, the Rains Houses, looks like a resort. Nice lawns, volleyball courts, a game room (well, a pool table), courtyards and commons.
The rest of Thursday kind of sucked. I didn't bring many important things with me, like sheets, soap, toilet paper, etc., because I figured that they could be obtained anywhere. As it turns out, they can't be obtained in Palo Alto—or at least not within 2 miles of my apartment. So I had to make do with what I could borrow from new apartmentmate Adam. Fortunately he has a car and promised to take me shopping the next day. Indeed, we went to Wal-Mart the next day, and I managed to buy all the important things.
Neither phone nor (Ethernet-based) Internet service was set up when I arrived. The former was fine, because I was planning to get a cell phone anyhow, but the latter was very irritating. I put in my application for Internet service on Friday afternoon. It didn't kick in until Sunday night, forcing me to spend time in public labs. Ugh. And the apartment is wired with thinnet, can you fscking believe it? I threw out all my BNC cards a long time ago, so I had to buy a hub in order to connect up.
Friday I also opened an account at the Stanford credit union. It's an ``online'' account, meaning that I don't get charged for most services but I can only come in to a branch and use a human teller if it's for something that can't be done online or at an ATM (or I get charged a fee). Seems pretty good actually.
My goal for Saturday was to buy a bike. So I walked along El Camino Real all the way to Menlo Park and back looking at different bike shops. All of them wanted to sell me $300 and up bikes, ridiculous for just tooling around campus. What I really wanted was an $80 Huffy. I finally settled for a $200 Raleigh at the one reasonable bike shop I could find. I got it outfitted with a folding cargo basket and a light.
Monday was student orientation for the computer science department. In the morning we were told about the various research groups in the department, and in the afternoon found out the details of how we are getting paid and what our requirements are in the long term and for this quarter. As it turns out, our requirements for this quarter are to find an advisor. We are not expected to take classes or do research. This means that I will have a good bit of free time to work on GNU libavl or other projects. Huzzah.
I also received my key to the (cough) Gates comp. sci. building on Monday. It will open the outside doors, the elevators, my office (I have an office shared among four Ph.D. students), and the shower in the men's restroom in the basement.
Tuesday morning I picked up my department-issued laptop. In the afternoon I went to the "GOALIE" (some kind of acronym) event for grad students near Tresidder Union. There was food and booths for lots of grad organizations. I picked up a lot of literature, including a couple of cool posters (well, cool by CS standards at least).
Tuesday night I went out to dinner with a couple of my parents' friends, the Giffords. They went to community college with my mom a long, long time ago in Jackson, Michigan, and moved to California soon afterward. They seem like nice people.
Wednesday I went out to buy a cell phone, because so far I didn't have any phone service at all. I had spent a long time doing research and comparing rates of different providers, and finally settled on a Sprint promotional rate. I'd tried to order it online, and the system refused. (What's more, it wanted to know my phone number. Dumbasses—I don't have a fscking phone, that's why I'm buying one.) So I walked up University Avenue to the actual Sprint Store in Palo Alto and bought it there.
Now I have this tiny little phone the size of a slightly thick deck of cards. It looks like some kind of toy, but it really works. The battery is about the third of the size of the thing. I am impressed. My wallet is actually bigger and my keys are heavier than this phone. It flips open, but there's a little display on the outside, too, that displays important info like Caller ID for incoming calls. And it wasn't expensive, either; it's actually one of the lower-priced phones, though it's not the cheapest, either.
I am, however, starting to wonder if incoming calls work properly, because I haven't received any yet. This might simply be because no one ever calls me, I guess.
Wednesday night we had a little party for the four of us who are going to be sharing the same office in Gates. Fun, in an ironic kind of way.
I wish that CS wasn't almost exclusively male endeavor, though. Out of 30 new Ph.D. students, only 3 are female. One of them is in my office though :-)
Well, that brings us pretty much up to date. I skipped most of the little welcome-to-campus parties and things, because they weren't really worth mentioning. I've bought food a couple of times and actually prepared meals, but it's amazing how often I've been wined-and-dined so far. (I've got to believe that this will peter out soon.) And I've joined the Gates building `food' mailing list, which is used just for announcing the availability of free food.