This article first appeared in BTS Issue 3.

By Elizabeth Lum Ly-ern, Sophomore (Class of 2021)
Architecture and Sustainable Design

Photographer: Tsou Li Tian Matthew, Sophomore (Class of 2021)
Engineering Product Development


Tip 1: Get a bicycle

Stanford has a massive campus, and getting a bike from the nearby Walmart makes commuting around school and getting to class much easier. On top of that, it’s great for short trips to the nearby Stanford Shopping Mall, Town and Country Mall, or downtown Palo Alto for a quick boba run!

Tip 2: Bring your own stationery

Most lecturers in Stanford advocate the use of pen and paper for notetaking. Be prepared to handwrite notes in class, so remember to bring your own stationery as the options in America are quite different from what we have back home.

Tip 3: Stanford resources

Stanford libraries contain a treasure trove of 9.5 million books. Many courses require external readings of your choice for assignments, so head down to the libraries and utilise the abundant resources for a head start!

Tip 4: Participate in class

It is part of the American culture to be very vocal. The local students ask questions whenever they have any doubts. Don’t worry about your question appearing daft!

Tip 5: Get creative with your food

Although the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons has a varied menu with different cuisines available daily, the dishes are bound to repeat in your eight weeks there. To keep things interesting, make your own concoctions with their dessert facilities such as affogato, parfait, and toast!


Tip 6: Rent a car

Stanford is conveniently located near a bunch of must-see attractions. The most convenient and cost-effective way to explore these places is by car, and Enterprise provides the most competitive rates! If the driver is below 21, they will need their own insurance from Singapore. It’s best to book the cheapest tier of cars as Enterprise often offers free or discounted upgrades at the point of collection. Do opt for the Tier 1 Damage Waiver for peace of mind whilst driving.

Tip 7: Driving in the United States

Driving on American roads can be daunting, but Google Maps and a sturdy phone mount are your best friends. Some of the newer rental cars have Carplay/Android Auto built in. Interstates and freeways have complex exits and slip roads, so pay attention and don’t drive over the speed limit. A credit card is the best way to pay for gas and most gas pumps require you to enter your “Zip Code” to authorise the use of your credit card – simply enter the first five digits of your six-digit billing address that the card is linked to.

Tip 8: Layer up

The weather in the bay area and the rest of California can be unpredictable. Even within San Francisco, different neighbourhoods can have their own micro-climates so check the weather forecast! Dress in layers, and bring a jacket, especially at night, in case it gets chilly.

Tip 9: Get the Yelp app

California is a melting pot of cultures and offers a variety of cuisines. Yelp comes in handy as you can filter your searches by price range, locality and cuisine. This way, you can easily cater to your whole group.

Tip 10: Prioritise what you want to see in California

Every weekend, the school organises trips to notable attractions such as Alcatraz, Santa Cruz boardwalk, Yosemite, a Giants baseball game and a musical. Slots are limited each week, and if you’ve been on any of these trips, you get pushed down the list. So if you’re interested, sign up early!

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