COASSF-01-Survival Guide for the First Three Days

Thread below: Confession of a Stanford Sloan Fellow (aka, "COASSF") is a long-running series that highlights the wonderful life on campus in Stanford Graduate School of Business' Sloan Fellow Program.

For all the incoming Sloan Fellows of 2012-2013, the following items are
listed in descending order of pressing urgency.

  1. Pick up your apartment keys from EV/Munger front desk
  2. Pick up your student ID from either Knight Management Center or Student's Union, which is the main hub for all sorts of student activities, close to Stanford Bookstore.
  3. Pick up your textbooks (five) from Sally at Knight Management Center and say Hi to her.
  4. Check into your apartment, make sure keys, electricity, phone and water work fine, and start writing down a list of what-to-buy for the next few days.
  5. Get a local 650 phone number. Go to University Ave in Palo Alto (this is like The Village in Beijing), as you can find both AT&T and Verizon stores here within walking distance. I think you can apply Stanford's student discount only on a two-year contract so be careful of what you sign up for (iPhone5 is rumored to come out in this fall). Stanford's area code is 650 so make sure this is the one you get(this is what we're here for right?), and not some codes from totally-uncool suburban areas. Also be aware that SMS text is not a necessity in US (depending who you ask). A lot of Americans don't do SMS. My package
    doesn't include a quota for text message so I'll be charged 25c for every text message and I'm fine with that. My wife and I have a family plan from AT&T and our combined monthly cost is about $150. My data quota is 3GB -it should be sufficient as we can ride on Stanford wi-fi on campus.
  6. Parking on University Ave is not difficult at all. There is a parking tower located on the northwest corner of University Ave and Bryant St. It's free for the first three hours (quite a deal considering how difficult it is to park in the street). I can always find available parking here without fail.
  7. SMS text is a very outdated technology, no better than VCD. I suggest we all use WeChat(微信) from Tencent(腾讯) to communicate. It's superior to traditional SMS in every way. It's available on both iOS and Android, but not on Blackberry (pls, for the love of God, throw away your BB if you haven't already done so. BB belongs to museums). For non-Chinese, go with either whatsapp or Kik or iMessage or a gazillion of other choices.
  8. To get through the first night, you need: 1) pillow, 2) quilt, 3) bed sheet. The easy solution is to visit IKEA in nearby Palo Alto and get it done. For more details on the shopping guide, read on.
  9. Assuming you have a car/rental car now, you'll need to buy parking permit from Stanford's Department of Transportation and Parking so that you can park your car in EV. It's not open on weekends so do it the first thing in the morning on Monday. They only sell "summer quarter" permit through September (the end of current academic year) for $75. In August they'll start selling $300/year parking permit for the new academic year. Our parking permit is of type RS (for residents).
  10. Get online. Go to http://rescomp.stanford.edu/ to register all your devices that need to have Internet connection, including desktop / laptop / iPad / phone / Apple TV / PS3 / Xbox. You'll get on the wi-fi network "Stanford Residence". It's fast and reliable, good enough to watch streaming movie without a hiccup. If you have a router, you can also establish your own wi-fi network for yourself (a good thing to do). Be aware that even with your own in-room wi-fi network up and running, you still need to register all your devices onto Stanford's network (this is for your own security protection). Between my wife and me we have at least ten devices that need to be registered. For the best help on IT, besides me you can also ask for help from RCC (resident computing consultant), who is also a student in the residence and trained to take care of all your computing needs. You can find out who is your RCC from rescomp website. Another trick to note: you can use one registered device to register another device which doesn't have a web UI. For example, you have a laptop that's already registered, but want to get your AppleTV registered as well. Note down the ethernet address of your AppleTV, login to rescomp using your laptop, and indicate that you're registering ANOTHER device, put down the ethernet ID of your AppleTV, and get it registered.
  11. Buy/lease a car. You can buy a new car (most expensive but entirely risk free), buy a used car from private parties (easiest  but a lot of risks), buy certified pre-owned cars from auto dealers (cheaper than buying a new car with minimum risk), or lease a car from rental-car companies. I don't know much about leasing, but I'd suggest buying certified pre-owned (CPO) cars from dealers. The process is very simple, visit an auto-dealer, test-drive, make payments, get auto-insurance on the spot, and drive the car away - all can be done in one day. Large dealers (you can find the authentic auto dealers from the brand's official website, such as www.audi.com) all have their own websites which list real-time car-lot inventory. Buying a car in an auto dealer is one of the most intimidating experiences in America so have fun with all the usual sales tricks. Note that bluetooch connection can be very handy here as it's illegal to hold your phone while driving.
  12. Buy auto-insurance. Without auto insurance, you cannot drive on the road in US. You can totally buy auto insurance with driver's license from Beijing/Shanghai or an international driver's license. The sales guy at auto dealer will call upon an insurance agent during closing to help you with all the paperwork (which might take as long as an hour). Before going to the auto dealer, you can get a quotation from GEICO.com (Buffett's favorite business, America's best online auto-insurance company) to get a benchmark  figure (it's a function of your demographic profile and the kind of car you'll buy). I'm paying roughly $400-500 for six-month in a month-by-month plan (ie. I can switch to other insurance plans any time with no penalty).
  13. Parking on campus. During summer time, most if not all the parking lots on campus are free after 4pm so take advantage of that.
  14. Eating. For breakfast, I'd suggest you buy a microwave oven to take care of that. For lunch, there are many avenues available for lunch on campus, like the cafeteria in Knight Management Center, Stanford Coho below Student's Union, Munger's famous pizza place, and Arrillaga Family Dining Commons. You can use credit card and student ID to buy meal plans (for details on meal plans, check out Stanford's website) in Arrillaga, which is the only one open during summer quarter. I bought a five-meal lunch package from Arrillaga. For dinner, other than those places on campus, the usual places are: 1) University Ave in Palo Alto (trendy); Town & Country Village in Palo Alto (cozy with many varieties); 3) Mountain view (right next to EV). There are some Chinese restaurants along El Camino Real and many more in the nearby Mountain View.
  15. Computer. I'm a notorious Mac Evangelist (which is way, way beyond the realm of merely fan boys) so be afraid, be very afraid. Based on what I've seen around campus in the last few days, it's evident to me that it must be illegal to use non-Mac laptops in Stanford. An MBA (Macbook Air) will suffice our study needs. Macbook Pro is too heavy (unless you want to get the retina display). For Mac users, get Office 2011 for Mac. It's fully compatible with the windows version and you can buy it with deep discount as a student. There is an Apple Store in Stanford Shopping Mall as well as University Ave. We can use student discount when buying MBA but it's really not that much.
  16. Shopping. Two convenience stores/minimart, CVS and Walgreens are your friends for daily simple stuff. There is an CVS on El Camino Real in Mountain View that is open 24/7, within five minute driving distance from EV. If you want to do a grand slam of all the furniture/home necessities with serviceable quality,  hit IKEA in east Palo Alto. For anything in electronics, go to the world-famous Fry's in Palo Alto (it's huge) or Mountain View. For reasonable quality
    department store, go to Target close to El Camino Real in Mountain View. For good quality grocery, go to Trader Joe's in Town & Country Village in Palo Alto. For Asian-themed all-in-one grocery, go to Ranch 99 Supermarket  in Mountain View. For late-night shopping spree, go to Safeway in Mountain View along El Camino Real that is open for 24 hours. Stanford Shopping Mall at the start of the legendary Sand Hill Road is home to some fairly up-scaled shops and stores with very limited dining options. Google Map is reasonably accurate in US but not 100%. Double-check with Yelp (which is usually reliable with local info and user reviews) to confirm direction/store hours/etc.
  17. Watch Euro2012. Off-campus, Hooters is a reliable bet, or you can just go to the usual suspect University Ave, where you can find many bars with screens. On campus, both Arrillaga and Coho have several big screens and bar tenders at Coho won't kick you out if you just sit there being a cheap student watching games drooling at C.Ronaldo  or Balotelli without buying anything. To secure a table at Coho, arrive at least one hour before the Final.
  18. Golf. If at one point ever in your life you might be thinking about starting in golf, now is the time and this is THE place. Stanford's self-owned golf course offers incredible discount to staff/students at only $25! The green fee is so cheap it will be a serious crime Not to brush up your golf skill here.
  19. Communication. Besides using WeChat to replace SMS, Skype is a good alternative to traditional telephone. Skype is available on wi-fi, which means we can possibly use Skype in place of phone. My Skype ID: herbertyang.
  20. Stanford Dish Trail. A hidden gem in Stanford, a two-mile loop trail with paranormal view of Stanford, Palo Alto and Mountain View, the best place for a walk in the last ray of light at dusk with utmost tranquility.  There is no parking lot for this park. Park your car along Stanford Ave leading to its south entrance and don't mess up our distinguished faculty professors' backyard.

Voila!

Herbert Yang

Herbert Yang

Shanghai