Putting the Break in “Alternative Spring Break”

By Joe Getsy


I knew that today was going to be an interesting day when I woke up after 10 hours of sleep to the sound of a fire alarm and the smell of French toast.  We had a wonderful breakfast and got really into making gourmet-quality bagel sandwiches for our “secret bonding activity” that we learned was a long hike around Point Lobos. We walked up rocky hills overlooking majestic seascapes and saw seals, sea lions, cormorants, seagulls, grey whales, deer, and more wildlife. Although the scenery and wildlife were great on their own, what really made the day special was the way we immersed ourselves in the environment around us, and had some interesting conversations we had. Aliza and Grace prompted us to have conversations with partners about our books, our families, and other previews to our spotlights that would get us to know each other better. The day was a rather meditative experience at times, and the rocky terrain overlooking the white caps reminded me a bit of Galápagos. We had our first student spotlight (Will, with Shirley at night), The wind blew and the waves crashed, but yet the hike was calming and therapeutic…. Until I sat down at the end of the day and realized how much walking we did. The wooded parts of the hike had this orange algae (apparently one of the only fully terrestrial algae in the world) and colorful flowers.


I don’t know if writing will do this day justice, but I just needed it at a deeply personal level. It was nice to just put my phone away and loose myself in the din of the wind, waves and birds, focusing on getting the most out of our second day together and feeling reassured that for once there were no assignments due, no constant slew of emails that demanded my immediate attention, or big pile of homework. It also gave me a bit of meditative time, and opportunities to reflect on what I’ve done so far at Stanford and where I’m going from here. I really enjoyed getting to talk to other people in the groupand hearing insight from Grace and Aliza. Like with any Stanford group, there’s a lot of fascinating stories and never a dull moment.


Once we got to Hopkins Marine Station, we had a barbecue featuring cheeseburgers (and veggie burgers) in paradise. Afterwards we got to tour the tuna research lab that I had been curious about since my previous visit there in the fall of last year. Needless to say, the lab was doing some really cool research, and had lots of large fish, which was really exciting. We got a tour of the lab, which also featured Mola mola, mackeral and mahi mahi. It is run by the Monterey Aquarium and by Stanford.




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