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Stanford Summer Arts Institute: Michelle Leidecker

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Music Michelle Leidecke

Michelle Leidecker spent part of her summer at the Stanford Summer Arts Institute.

Why did you choose to participate in a summer program or go to overnight camp?

I was looking for a program where I would learn about music and its impact on us as students and the world in general. As a classical musician, I wanted to explore a different perspective of music. I also wanted to attend an overnight camp to be able to experience a college-like style of living before I went off to college in order to be more prepared, and the Stanford Summer Arts Institute provided that for me.

How did you decide which program or camp was right for you?

While looking for programs, what excited me about the Stanford Summer Arts Institute was the diversity of the topics I would be taught in just three weeks. I was excited about the material I was going to learn and that’s how I knew that I wanted to attend the SPCS program. Other programs weren’t giving me the same options of material that Stanford was, and it made Stanford seem like the right fit for me.

What was a typical day in your summer program or at camp?

We would all wake up around 8 in the morning on a typical day in order to go have breakfast. After breakfast we would have our first class of the day from 9-12, which was typically a discussion-based class with Dr. Tiffany Naiman where we would discuss the reading we had done the night before on a variety of different topics. From here, we would go to Arrillaga for lunch and then back to our house, Ng, to have a “study session” with our TAs from 1-4. During this time, we would watch videos and movies pertaining to the material (since a large chunk of this course was the exploration of how music affects the mood in movies) and work on essays and other work we needed to do. After this study session time we would have structured activity time, and we got to choose whether to go to the pool, the art museum, or even fountain-hopping with our house leaders. We would then go to dinner, usually at Arrillaga except on Wednesdays, when we would have a house dinner in the lawn in front of Ng with different catered foods. After dinner we would then be able to have free time, when we would either sign out to explore campus or stay in and catch up on work. We would all be back in the house at around 9 for our pod meetings and our house meeting at 10.

What was the most memorable moment of your summer?

My most memorable moment at Stanford was the first time we all went into Palo Alto to have bubble tea. This was my first time in California and also my first time having bubble tea so it was lots of fun. We walked to Palo Alto with our TAs and it was nice and cold, and then to T4 You where I had lychee tea before we all walked back to Ng house. After that, we would have bubble tea almost every day from Coupa Cafe and made it our little ritual.

What advice do you have for teens looking at summer programs or camps?

I would say to look for a camp that has courses that you really want to learn about. If you don’t feel excited about learning the material or being away from home, then you should probably look for a program that better suits you. Going to overnight camp may seem intimidating, especially if you’ve never been away from home before, but it is so worth it when you’re there and learning so many amazing things you didn’t think you’d have the opportunity to study before finishing high school.