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107 Days of Summer Break at Caltech!

June 21, 2011: Summer Solstice

Google Definition: The solstice that marks the onset of summer, at the time of the longest day, about June 21 in the northern hemisphere and December 22 in the southern hemisphere.

June 21, 2011 marks the beginning of summer, and it also marks the start of a journey! Read on ahead to find out more!

Your Guide

My name is Yang Hu and I am a junior undergrad at Caltech. I am majoring in biology, and my aspiration is to make it to medical school. My goal in this blog is to give you firsthand experience of what a summer at Caltech can be. Whether you are a high school student, prefrosh, or anyone else, I hope you find this blog useful. Now, enough about me. Let’s go visit some places!

What to Expect


Opinions on some biology classes|Courses Taken 3rd Term (39 Units)

Advanced Genetics taught by P. Sternberg — This was a very low stress class. The entire grade was comprised of four problem sets worth 25% each. An A is any grade at or above 90%. Even though there is no extra credit offered, rumor has it that A+’s were given to students with the top grades in the class. Yes, Caltech does give A+’s and they count for 4.33 GPA!

Genetics Laboratory (from 2nd term) taught by B. Hay and J. Mendel — This lab class literally lasted forever! The entire class was given an extension 2nd term and apparently this was done the previous year as well, so the class lasted from 2nd term to 3rd term. The course had 2 portions, one part focused on doing genetic screens on a newly discovered species of Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes and the other part had to do with creating a P-element deletion in the SUMO gene of Drosophila melanogaster! How cool is that?!? Super COOL!

Organic Chemistry Part 3 taught by B. Stoltz — A very difficult course indeed, I’d say even at other colleges. The third term was absolutely brutal with an emphasis on sythesis and covering the previous two terms worth of organic chemistry. The class is no joke and required consistent studying throughout the year and especially during this term. The course had quizzes almost each week, an in-class midterm, and a final!

Elementary Chinese Native Speaker’s Track taught by F. Ming — I’d say this class was one that left behind quite a few memories. This course had a lot of busy work that is usually associated with language classes, but it is busy work that cannot be put off without major consequences. Some had to ask for extensions to finish the coursework even after the course was finished and these are brilliant people too!

Monday Night Jazz Band taught by W. Bing — This was an awesome, awesome class! Imagine being able to play some jazz with others who share a similar interest in that genre of music after a day of lecture and homework! Making music with fellow musicians is an awesome way to destress! With the added benefit of the talented and chill band director, Bill, it was definitely an awesome and fun experience I had during third term!

Health Advocates taught by M. Stapf — What’s not to like about learning about first aid and practicing it in the class? Health advocates was definitely one of the more enjoyable classes I have taken so far. Even though it was 3 straight hours on a Wednesday night, we got to sit in comfy sofas and have snacks halfway between! Plus, I got to be in the company of a lot of awesome friends and participate in the final practicum which included the use of a lot fake blodd!!! =)

(TA’d Bi1 — As a job, TA positions do not count for credit. This was definitely a class worth taking as TAs are required to take the course in addition to TAing and holding recitation sections and office hours. The professor P. Bjorkman applied concepts in biology to HIV viruses. If given the option to TA, I would most likely do it again.)

I also got to go to lab today, but more on that in the next post!

The next day was a filled with fun as well. There was a kick-off summer BBQ for all summer research students (SURF, Amgen, and MURF) featuring mediterraneanfood catered by Burger Continental (which gives you a $2 Caltech special of a burger with fries on the side! That’s cheaper than McDonalds! xP) After that I had to pack for my 3-day trip to Yosemite sponsored by the Caltech Y, which is our campus volunteer organization, which I will go into detail in future posts!



The next day, I spent some time filming the House Video intro for rotation, and I also got to go to the annual "Pasadena Make Music and Sidewalk Chalk Festival." There were a lot of beautiful sidewalk chalk artwork as well as some interesting bands I’ve never heard of. Overall, it was awesome, and I also got to hangout with some Amgen buddies pictured above.

Since I’ve come to Caltech, I’ve become more sedentary. I used to do sports like cross-country and track in high school, but kind of dropped the ball at Caltech. This summer, I’m hoping to workout more to get back in shape. That’s the goal. Now let’s see if I get past planning xP

The package came with an HTC Inspire, which will replace my Blackberry Curve 8310. Now, I have to figure out how to use all of these new features, which the Curve didn’t have. Whoot! More things to keep me busy over the summer.

NEXT TIME: Learn about what I am actually researching over the summer and see what Caltech students can cook up (hopefully something edible)! =O

Yang Hu