I went on a day trip today where I walked to the Stanford Dish, Stanford Shopping Center, and University Ave. It was a way for me to unwind and also consciously reflect on my college experience so far. This showed me that a vacation can be as short as a day, because if I focus on relaxation and self-reflection, the amount of time doesn’t really matter anymore. Come along with me as I kick off a beautiful, simple vacation day.
7:45AM A Slow Rise
I wake up nice and early to give myself enough time to wash my face, put on some makeup, and gather my essentials for going out today. Since I’m going to walk a ton today, I will wear athletic clothing and pack minimal. I treat myself to a nice breakfast on my dorm’s terrace with eggs, sausage, vegan quesadillas, watermelon, and some Cocoa Puff cereal for a treat. It’s chilly outside, but refreshing at the same time. I never underestimate having a meal outside.
8:15AM Morning Hike
I finish eating and prepare to head out to the Stanford Dish! It’s amazing what nature can do to your mental state. The moment I saw the winding hiking trail, my mind was at ease and also pleasantly overwhelmed by the beauty of nature – things that I often never stop to appreciate when I’m rushing off to class. The simplicity of the hike, of pressing my sneakers against the rolling hills – it really forces me to be aware of how I engage with my surroundings. That is exactly what I need.
9:00AM Writing Reflections and Heading to the Mall
At 9AM, I sit down to write some reflections, starting with the relationships I’ve had this season, and how I feel about them. It is nice to lay my emotions on the paper, so I can have some distance while observing them. Then, I once again prepare to walk for thirty minutes to the outdoor Stanford Mall. I stop at random places to observe the scenery – I even find a statue of a grieving angel on my way.
At the Stanford mall, I shop, I sit and read for pleasure. The mall is so beautiful and elegant, so I take the time to appreciate it’s grandeur.
After a while, I realize how hungry I am, so I search for a good place to get lunch and dessert. I find at last the Melt, a SF based fast food restaurant that specializes in grilled cheese, and proceed to order the decadent Italian Job grilled cheese, packed with mushrooms and herbs, as well as a freaking delicious cookies n’ cream milkshake. The atmosphere inside the place is minimalist, unique and cool.
For dessert, I go all out and devour a Triple Cinnamon Cupcake at Sprinkles Cupcakes.
Right when I feel just about full from my meal, and want to walk a bit around the mall again, I spot a nifty little farmer’s market on the corner by Sprinkles. The subtle waft of fruit sugars in the air draw me in. I immediately fall in love with the freshness of the clementines (freshly-picked from a Fresno farm) and buy a bunch for later munching.
3:00PM Afternoon Tea and More Reflections
I finally leave the comforts of the mall and trek to University Avenue, hoping to sit down at Paris Baguette – my favorite Asian bakery to date. It’s sunny and bright outside – I peer into other restaurants and cafes, taking mental notes on where to go on future day trips. Finally, I arrive at Paris Baguette and immediately order one savory and one sweet baked good, as well as a “velvety” iced tea.
I literally cannot describe how good the iced tea is – it brings nostalgia to me in great waves, as it reminds me of a Chinese soft drink (冰红茶）that I was addicted to in my childhood, except it has more tones of almond and milk hidden underneath the sweetness. The drink is frothy but not sickly sweet, so I’m extremely impressed!
I sit down and continue writing my reflections on a sheet of lined paper – I reflect on my academic progress, my level of diligence, my other commitments, my worst mistakes and sweetest memories of this season. Finally, I take my last sip of iced tea and jot down major goals I have for the remainder of the academic year. I feel a sense of calm closure to this winter season – I feel ready to jump into spring with fresh energy and motivation.
4:30PM Cool Down and Creating the Clean Slate.
My little trip has come to an end. I head back to the dorm, have St. Patrick’s day dinner with my dormmates, and play video games for a bit. Then, I decide today is the day to fully spring clean my room. So, I get down and dirty, completely re-arranging my desk area and throwing numerous things away. My personal baggage feels lights and not like a burden – I change into my pajamas and have a restful night’s sleep.
Today has been a good day. A day of simple consciousness, of hope for what is to come.