Widgets Magazine
Lessons from being lost on campus
(MAXIMILIANA BOGAN/The Stanford Daily)

Lessons from being lost on campus

I squint down at my phone screen beneath the glaring Californian sun. This doesn’t look right. As I stare harder at the jagged green line on Google Maps telling me to bike through the Law School and look for my French class near the Braun Music Center, I can’t help but feel like something is wrong. I ignore the tugging sensation in my gut and trust Google. It’s Google, it can’t be wrong, right? If you can’t put your faith in Google, what can you put it in? I follow the map.

I end up 15 minutes late to French class. Turns out Lathrop Library is on the other side of campus. I had searched for Lathrop, Stanford CA instead of Lathrop Library and gotten directions to Muwekma-Tah-Ruk. Rookie mistake. Now I know to use the Stanford App for directions on campus.

Another time I tried to bike to the CalTrain station and ended up at IKEA. After Googling “palo alto caltrain address,” I was given the vague address “University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301.” I copy and pasted this into Google Maps mindlessly, without realizing that the real CalTrain was located at Palo Alto Station, Palo Alto, CA 94301, a solid 1.4 miles away from the address I went to.

I missed the train.

The worst part is that as I biked that extra 1.4 miles down University Avenue I could feel that I was going the wrong way. Yet I convinced myself that I just needed to follow the map and everything would be fine.

My experiences finding my French class and the CalTrain are only two examples of the many times that I have gotten lost here at Stanford. Over the course of these countless directional difficulties, I have learned a few things about myself. Here are some thoughts that I’ve had while pedaling down the street with no clue as to where I actually am, too proud to admit that I am completely, utterly, and hopelessly lost.


  1. I need to trust my gut.

If something feels wrong, it probably is. Intuition should not be overlooked.


  1. I need to be more organized.

Rather than hurriedly typing in an address before flying out the door with just enough time to spare, I should try to plan ahead and take the time to double check that I have the correct address.


  1. I need to take the time to evaluate my current situation rather than becoming  fixated on the future.

I get tunnel vision when thinking about my destination. Follow the map. Arrive. I become so focused on where I’m going that I don’t take the time to realize that I’m heading in the wrong direction. Here at Stanford, I feel like many students are constantly jetting off to an overwhelming number of club meetings, classes, speaker events, sports activities, community service projects, internships and jobs. I fall into this pattern as well, setting up a checklist of destinations for the day and feigning the guise of productivity by constantly biking to another event without taking the time to think about where I’m actually going or why I’m going there.


  1. I am so lucky to be lost here.

Looking around at this beautiful campus with these gorgeous trees and shining sun, I can’t help but feel lucky to be lost in a place that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also full of amazing opportunities.


  1. Thank goodness I’m not a real adult yet.

I don’t have responsibilities like a mortgage, or business meetings that will make or break my job. I’m lucky both because I have the time to be lost and the time to find my way.


Contact Phoebe Quinton at pquinton ‘at’ stanford.edu.