time for an update how things are going in Cali

I just realized I haven’t updated on what happened in Cali for the last 3 weeks already. So I’ll have to squeeze things in now as one I don’t remember all the details and two no one would want to know them anyways.

Studies are going fine. I’m enjoying most of my courses and learning a lot. I especially love that “Social Psychology of Large Scale Media Interventions” class, even though we have assignments due every week plus about 40pages of reading for every class. So it’s a lot of work but the assignments are generally really fun to do and a mixture of design and research thinking. That’s the main reason why I really enjoy them. I should do a separate post on the outcomes of the assignments once the course is over, because it’s really insightful!
The CS class is really fun as well. I have the third assignment due this week. First ones were pretty easy, basic html and CSS in the first assignment and very fundamental javascript for the second one. The third is now supposed to be the hardest and I have really struggled a lot getting it to work. Try to make a googlemaps like app (well, not as advanced but still) including zooming, scrolling, searching and so on… there are easier things in life :) But it is really good practice and I managed to finish it already (even though I have time until thursday). Well, some cosmetic things are still left… I’m too much of a designer to just care about functionality!
For the smart cities course I have written the first out of two essays yesterday! Yey! It ended up being a vision of what a smart city should be. Also some minor cosmetic work missing.

So what I have been up to other than studying? I started rowing on rowing machines pretty much every day. If Stanford is doing one good thing to me: I exercise way more than I did back in Finland (where I was lazy during the last years, that’s true): I’m now up to 8,5km on the rowing machines about 5-6 times a week plus we play volleyball at least once a week. Then I also have my tennis class twice a week and I longboard wherever I go. So yes, there has quite some improvement in exercise level (and also decrease in times for the first 5000m on the rowing machine ;) ).
Other than that, three weeks ago I was in the de Young Art Museum in San Francisco. The exhibition design was quite weird for me (not chronological or according to topic, but somehow mixed) but museum architecture by Herzog & de Meuron is awesome (see some pics down the post).
Last weekend I went to Santa Cruz, the supposed Mekka for surfers and skaters. It’s a nice place but I kind of missed the Mekka-part of it. We had a free ticket for all day on the Boardwalk, which is an amusement park right by the beach. So we took a couple of roller coaster rides before we headed to the beach. Water is much colder than in L.A.. Yes I know it’s a couple of hundred kilometers north from L.A. so it’s no wonder. I then did a pretty long longboard ride to Felton where I had found a place to sleep via couchsurfing. It was pretty nice: I slept in a tend on the porch and when I woke up in the morning I could see the blue sky right above me! Also my host was a nice woman. We had good evening talks. But I took the bus back to Santa Cruz the next morning, and spend the sunday on the beach before heading back to Stanford.
On Wednesday I went to San Francisco for a meet up event, where Julie Stanford (yes, the name is following wherever I go) talked about the “me” in app design. She emphasized user research a lot, which was kind of surprising for me as I thought that this is quite common also in the real world. But obviously it’s not… And I finally managed to do the first 2 urban alphabets in San Francisco that day too. Look at the ualphabets website if you are interested.
This weekend was the first that I stayed completely in Stanford. I wanted to finish my homework and write the first essay so that I don’t have to rush on all that too much during the next weeks. The Finnish guys were over today and we spend the sunday at the Stanford Swimming Pool, which is really awesome! I got quite some tan :) Oh yeah and I had a little creative flash today also: I went out sketching for an hour or so in the evening but I noticed: water color pens are not the same as real water colors. I might get some if I find cheap ones in the Stanford bookstore.

Yes, everything is called Stanford something on this campus. It is it’s own bubble, pretty detached from real life. I wonder if I’ll still be able to cook after 2 month? I am often a bit annoyed by this phantasy-paradise world that Stanford is. It is pretty cool to concentrate on studying but I am missing city life a lot. Where are the cars, the noise, the traffic lights, the beggars, the gangs, different social classes and so on? It’s mainly the feeling of urbanity I miss. Stanford is awesome for studying (they have just been voted the best college in the US, so greetings from the top) but personally living here on long term would be hell for me.
Don’t worry: I enjoy my time!! :) (see pics: How could I not enjoy being here??)