Monday, January 7, 2019

My Freshmen Experience

Going into Stanford, I had the perfect vision of what my life here would be like. An entire childhood of Tiger fanaticism had obviously ingrained Stanford into my mind as the dream school. All my life I had been waiting for the moment when I would step on campus as a Cardinal and begin the best years of my life. Perfect weather, endless sun, world-famous professors, and, of course, the best practice facility that this country had to offer. I could barely wrap my mind around the fact that soon Siebel would be at my complete disposal.
However, I had also heard from others that life here wasn’t as peachy as it might appear from the outside. A part of me knew that my expectations of Stanford were perhaps a little too idealistic. So, from the time when the team moved into our first temporary living complex, I was waiting for some sort of catch. However, I can say now that the experience I received so far is better than anything I could have imagined.
Don’t get me wrong, the schedule is undoubtedly more intense than I expected. VersaClimber punishments for showing up only a couple minutes late to practice, desperately warming up my numb fingers at 6:30 AM, staying up late to turn in a problem set, then taking a quick nap before going to practice -- these new realities of life were tough at first, but each has made me a stronger individual.
One of the more interesting new aspects of my life here was getting enlisted into Camp Bortis. Every Friday morning, our deceptively amiable new assistant coach would drop his facade and put us through the most hellish workouts I ever had to go through. Though I would learn that the main point of the regimen wasn’t to strengthen our bodies, but our minds. The rules were simple for each session: you could quit at any time you want and you are not allowed to cheer each other on. After all, golf is an individual sport and when you are struggling in the middle of an important round, there is no one out there to help pick you up except yourself. One of our Friday workouts was a 5-mile run, something that I have never come even close to attempting before. But to my surprise, I not only completed the run but actually finished first (with one less shirt on me than I started with). What Coach gave us that day was an important lesson: we have a lot more in us than we think and “impossible” shouldn’t ever be in our minds.
But perhaps the biggest thing I had to learn for myself this quarter, is where golf and academics fall in my life. High school was undoubtedly a much simpler time. I would go to school, practice golf til sundown, do my homework, and then go to sleep. Now, every day comes a question of whether I want to get more work done on my computer science project or if I need to spend a couple extra hours working on my short game that day. It's a difficult dynamic to balance because at its core it asks me to decide what I find more significant to myself. Time will tell, but some of my recent finals are making a professional golf career look very appealing. I’ll let you know for sure when grades come out.
Of course, I can’t finish this without saying something about my new teammates. I feel that the guys here are like brothers that I never had and it’s perhaps the very best part of my Stanford experience. Despite annoying the team with unprompted karaoke sessions in the van, overenthusiasm during workouts, and jokes that apparently only I find funny, they’re still always on my side. They support me in my ups, help me in my downs, and give me some tough love when I need it. They’re always happy to share their knowledge and experience with me and it certainly makes life here less intimidating, as I was warned of just about every possible pitfall that I might face. So while the street cred that I acquired from getting into Stanford is certainly nice, it is these new connections that I formed that really make my life here amazing. My only hope is that I can make them last a lifetime.

Go Card!

-Daulet Tuleubayev