When I got to know that I would spend this summer here in Stanford, I think I said “yes.” Then I might have jumped around a little. And then I opened Google Maps. Because I didn’t really have a clue where it actually was. And as most people (at home) say, “yeah, Stanford, cool man—where is that actually?” I think some geography could help a little.
Below you can see a map with some points of interest (in blue) that show where I spend most of my time. You can also open it in a larger view.
View Stanford and surroundings in a larger map
You can see that Stanford is located in the south of the San Francisco Bay in California/west-coast United States, around 40 minutes from San Francisco by car or train. The campus is close to the city of Palo Alto (population around 65,000) at a latitude of 37°25′ N, which is slightly south of Lisbon, Athens, Seoul, and Springfield (I just don’t tell you which one). Its elevation is 30 feet (that’s 9.1 meters) above sea level.
The city of San Francisco (as in the political county) has a population of 800,000, whereas the whole bay area including San Jose and Oakland (which could be considered a single metropolitan area) has 7.4 million inhabitants. As a comparison, Austria has around 8.4 million.
The climate here is considered Mediterranean, with cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers. There are about 300 full or partly sunny days each year, with pleasant average daily highs around 29°C (they say 84° Fahrenheit here) in July and August. The micro-climate in the city of San Francisco is different though. Mark Twain said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” (Well, no, he didn’t.)
The region is famous for its high concentration of high-tech companies, particularly in the field of computers, which is why it’s called Silicon Valley (as computer chips are usually made of silicon). I marked some notable companies in red, but it’s just a selection of a long list. Even if you’re not dealing with computers at all, you’ll recognize a few.
If California were a country, it would be the 8th-largest economy in the world. After being reigned by both Arnold Schwarzenegger and (at least indirectly) George W. Bush (click the links! click the links!)—even at the same time—it has some financial troubles though.
Finally, here is a close-up of the campus with my daily bike route in blue:
The campus occupies an area of 33.1 square km (Graz: 127.6; inner districts I through VI: 21.3). And it’s beautiful—more on that later.