EdusalsaDiscover Your Stanford
  • Posted 7 years ago


From Donner to Down Under

The moments we shared Down Under.

By Alex Cheung

Stanford’s campus has never seemed bigger than it did during the (in)famous N.S.O. Band Run. But as the dark, looming buildings we passed by that night gradually became familiar features of our everyday commute-- and as my reliance on the “Stanford Maps” application gradually faded-- I realized how small our 8,000+ acre school really was. It became especially apparent by the end of sophomore year, after over six dozen problem sets, at least one hundred Stern burritos, and nearly two consecutive years of residency on the Farm.

Luckily, Stanford’s reach extends further than just the real estate between Town & Country and FroSoCo (wherever on campus that actually is). I had the unbelievable opportunity to study abroad in Australia through the Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP) fall quarter of my junior year. The program is unique in that the group stays together in hostels and research stations (rather than homestays, like most other BOSP locations) as it travels up and down the east coast of the continent. From Sydney to Cairns, we saw all of the beauty and terrors the outback had to offer. In fact, each new destination we visited had an inaugural PowerPoint lecture highlighting the most likely candidates in the area to kill you. The closest encounter I had was nearly stepping on a snake while relieving myself near the campfire one evening-- Our professor claims that I “screamed like a little girl,” but I maintain no such thing happened…

From coral reef dives to rain forest hikes, everything we learned in our lectures came alive right in front of us. We met with Aboriginal elders to hear their stories of prejudice and protests; we saw first-hand the destruction that modernization brings to delicate ecosystems; we even learned a little about ourselves, discovering what sort of stereotypes come with being an American in a foreign country. But most of all, we formed a bond with our fellow Stanford classmates in a way that a biology lecture or C.S. section back on campus could never facilitate. Studying abroad opened my eyes not only to the vast possibilities the world had to offer, but also to the parts of Stanford I hadn’t fully explored: I couldn’t tell you half the names of everyone in the program our first day in Sydney, but by our last night in Brisbane I knew we would never forget the moments we shared Down Under.

In collaboration with Tau Beta Pi

Tau Beta Pi is the only honor society representing the entire engineering profession across the nation. Their chapter at Stanford strives to promote academic excellence, leadership, and continued service to the larger engineering community. They host events and organize initiatives including peer mentoring, K-12 outreach, alumni panels, CEO dinners, project fairs and more. For more info, check out

Alex Cheung

Alex originally comes from the island of O'ahu, but has called Stanford University "home" for the past few years (where he has learned to appreciate long pants and a warm jacket). From immersing himself in everything from bioengineering to club water polo to swing dancing, he has made it a point to gain the most of his Stanford experience with minimal F.O.M.O.

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