Karim Abdo and Mohamad El Adhami reflect on their experiences as participants in the Stanford IHP program for the 2018-29 summer term.
Karim Abdo, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.
Courses: When I started navigating courses, I realized that Stanford offers a wide variety of exciting courses that are not available at AUB. “Technology and Entrepreneurship" and “Environmental and Ecological Economics" are among the most famous and interesting courses offered. Students can also enroll in the Intensive Studies program, which upon completion allows them to become an Environmental and Water Studies Scholar at Stanford. In addition, Students have carta.stanford.edu as a resource to look up courses. The website provides accurate feedback on the workload, instructors, and the course in general. All Stanford students have access to this website once they acquire their credentials, which is before registration.
I strongly advise students to focus more on the quality of the courses rather than the credit count. It might be worth taking an overload of credits when they return to AUB if it means they can gain flexibility in course selection at Stanford.
Transportation: I would recommend renting out or buying a bike during the stay. Biking is very convenient and lanes are available on and off campus.
Support: IHP coordinators provide students with all the information they need upon their arrival. During the summer, most Stanford students are not on campus, so the clubs are not particularly active. The Resident Assistance took it upon themselves to organize the activities that would typically happen during a regular semester. The faculty is also very helpful; not only in terms of coursework but also in providing advice and insight on graduate studies.
Living in California: California is one of the most expensive states to live in; however, students can manage their living expenses accordingly so as not to overspend while they are there. If they subscribe to the meal plan then they save on eating out; similarly, if they commute buy bike they save on transportation.
Tuition: Between 11 and 12 course units, there is an expensive spike in tuition fees. This is why students usually take a maximum of 11 credits, which transfer back to AUB as six credits. If you need to register for nine credits, make sure to submit a petition through your AUB faculty for the purpose.
IHP: Aside from the tuition discount, as IHP students, we had community-building trips and gatherings organized especially for us. All IHP students live together in two dorm buildings; this gave us the chance to meet and to connect closely with one another.
Mohamad El Adhami, Majoring in Economics.
Courses: I was able to register for amazing classes at Stanford. I advise students to abide by OIP's recommendation and to get as many courses pre-approved as possible to give themselves some flexibility during registration. I also advise them to use the “add and drop" period wisely by attending the classes and choosing courses they can actually enjoy. The fact that Stanford adopts the American credits system makes the course approval process easier. The courses are similarly tailored to the ones at AUB so course equivalency process was fairly easy; nonetheless the courses at Stanford are delivered in a different- and sometimes more challenging- manner.
Residence: Personally, I had already been on exchange to Sciences Po in France before applying to Stanford, so I was unsure what the added benefit would be from pursuing this opportunity. However, it turned out to be a very different experience, especially when it comes to dorm life. As part of IHP, students are required to stay in campus dorms. This rendered me hesitant about applying because I usually prefer to live alone. To my surprise, it was the highlight of my stay. We were living with each other as a community of our own; we were having breakfast and lunch in the dining hall together, studying in the library together, hanging out in the dorms lounge together, playing volleyball and board games together. It was also a very diverse residence; this aspect was particular to IHP residence halls and it made our summer sessions at Stanford much more valuable and distinct. The house director and residence assistants organized activities for us every single day which greatly helped us bond with each other as IHP students.
Trips: Students should try to plan trips ahead of time. We visited Los Angeles, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, and Santa Cruz. It is also a good idea to make the most of the city itself. San Francisco is only an hour away and there is so much to discover because every part of the city is different. Countless events happen in the city during the summer like parades and concerts that students can enjoy in addition to IHP trips to museums, landmarks, amusement parks, aquariums etc.