Saving Grace – Bechtel International Center

After the first 2 weeks in the Bay Area you start to settle and your thoughts start to circle around the topic: and what now? I walked around for some time and finally bumped into a colleague of my husband. She asked me whether I have been to the Bechtel International Center. I had not heard of the center and did not pay much attention. Well, I should have paid more attention! Sometimes some small bits and pieces of information appear as too much or not useful, but once you act upon they they become very useful.

The Bechtel International Center was my saving grace for the first half a year in Palo Alto. Bechtel is an international house which offers an amazing program for spouses. From learning another language to cooking courses, self development courses, toddler reading groups, baby groups… you name it. And when the course you wish is not available, you can decide to offer it yourself. The spouse program is basically run by spouses themselves who offer their skills and knowledge. Have you ever thought of offering a course? Now is your chance.

Just walk into the building on campus. Usually a person from “English in Action” greats you at the door. Course and schedule information you can find on the notice board or on the internet. When you walk up the stairs there are more people who can assist you. Sometimes they all appear a wee bit busy there, but they are very friendly. The Bechtel Center’s main mandate is to support Stanford students with visa advice.

I was extremely happy to have found such a great support system on campus. This is certainly not the norm and many other universities don’t have such a support network.   I always felt very lucky. I even ended up offering a course with a friend together and it was an amazing experience and certainly helped me to grow. I also took a knitting class and learnt to knit socks. That was so much fun!

The Center offers so much, I am sure we will often post about Bechtel and our experience with the Center. After all, that is where the Stanford Wives met : )

Insights & Tips:

  • evaluate information you receive even if it’s just bits and pieces
  • when you arrive, do yourself a favor and go to Bechtel, you are not alone
  • teach, its fun, take a course and learn new skills





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