Why I'm a Stanford Newcomer Guide

We have two ears and one mouth because we should listen twice as much as we talk.

Being a Newcomer Guide, I try to live by that mantra, though I’m not always sure how successful I am at it. Stanford students are so curious, so exciting, so full of promise, at the same time as being unsure, nervous, and adjusting to no longer being the ‘biggest fish’. This is such an important and challenging stage of your life: living away from home, discovering and exploring your passions: figuring out who you are. As an SNG, I hope – and love - to help guide and nurture and watch this growth. Seeing that is incredibly rewarding.

As a first generation student, I didn’t have as much confidence in myself as I should have had. For the first half of my undergraduate degree, I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities available, in large part because I didn’t know they even existed. I was lucky to have some professors who helped me stretch academically, and to connect with older students who gave great advice. I wish my University had had a system like this. Being an SNG means I can help others and challenge myself.

So, my advice for coming to Stanford:

1.      Make sure you know the recipe for that special remedy your parents make when you’re sick. You’re going to be mixing with people from all over the world, which means you’re going to get sick. The sickest I’ve ever been was my first semester in Uni, and the first autumn after I moved here from the UK. The good news is that it’s totally worth it.

2.      Talk to everyone, but don’t feel like you have to be friends with everyone. You never know who you’ll connect with. Everyone has an interesting story. But there are some people who just won’t be for you. That’s fine.

3.      Try subjects and courses you’d never have thought to. The next time you’ll have this kind of academic freedom is once you’ve retired (and you should take advantage then, too). There are classes available on things you’ve probably never even heard of. And don’t feel like you have to do certain subjects just because they’re what your family expects - that is the best way to be miserable.

Your SNG can and will help you with all this and more. Be open and honest (about what is working and what isn’t). I’m continually impressed by the other SNGs that I talk to: how seriously we all take it, how much everyone enjoys it, and how good people are at it. Ask us questions. If we don’t know the answer, we most likely know someone who does.

Finally – relish every minute. That doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it all. There will be times of sadness, frustration, failure. Don’t fight them – those times lead to growth and resiliency. There will also be times of laughter, joy, and a-ha! moments. Cherish those.

Trust the process.


Lindsey Akin

Facilities Services Manager

Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences