We meet again my old friend San Francisco. I always get the best (or worst, depending on how one looks at it) luck when going in: Saturday was bright and sunny and very hot. However, this time was different from my last visit, because I came in using the Caltrain. Facebook provides GO passes to any intern that wants them, which allows us to use the Caltrain as many times as we would like. As it goes all the way up and down the Peninsula, I can use it to get to San Francisco up north, or Mountain View and San Jose down south - with many more cities along the way.
By using the train, I constrained myself to public transport or a ride share service if I wished to pay more. It was then that I discovered that while you can get anywhere is SF with buses, trains, and cable cars, its highly inefficient and takes far more time than cars. Although this is also relatively true for Chicago as well, my love of my hometown leads me to believe that we are at least a tiny bit better with public transport.
I actually spent most of my day walking around a pretty small area - but a different area from my last trip, which allowed me to see more of the city. I made my way from a Bon Odori festival that a Buddhist Church was putting on (just north of Japantown), south to the Painted Ladies which was around 2 miles away. However, my day started from Lafayette Park, which had a gorgeous view of the Bay.
I had a lot of fun listening to Taiko drumming from cute kids and a Taiko group called Jiten Daiko at the festival. I have only seen Taiko performances a couple of times but I love the fact that it is an art form that requires musical sense and a flair for the exhibition.
Starting college can be a big transition. You’re moving to a new place, starting a new school and classes, and faced with making new friends in an unfamiliar environment. And, of course, there’s that whole “becoming an adult” thing. But, you’re also leaving a lot behind. Every new beginning means that an old chapter must come to an end. Leaving behind our friends at home may seem difficult, especially if they’re going to be a long distance away from you during the school year. Something I made sure to do was to spend a lot of time with them during the summer after high school. Of course, going to college doesn’t mean you’ll never see your friends again, or that you will no longer be friends with them. Good friendships will last if you put effort into them. It may seem hard initially. Coming into Caltech, it’s a sharp adjustment and many are caught up in the excitement of Orientation, Rotation, and starting classes. It may be hard to remember to check your phone frequently and to make time for phone calls and such. Rest assured that if you have other friends going to college, they’re probably going to go through similar things you will. In this transition period, it can feel like you’re going to immediately lose touch with people that mean a lot to you.
Let’s face it: the US loves being just a little different from everyone else. The obvious example? Units of measurement. As an international student from Canada, even I have no clue what’s going on half the time when my friends talk to me and use these weird nonsensical units. And I’ve literally lived on the border between Canada and the States for all my life. After a year here, I’ve finally got a sense of how the two systems of measurement compare and how you can more easily get your bearings with these weird units.
After a year spent in “soft-lockdown” at home in Atlanta, and as Caltech students prepared to finally return to campus, I was aboard an eight hour flight towards Edinburgh, Scotland. Since my junior year plans were interrupted by the virus who shall not be named, I’m spending my first term of senior year studying abroad through the Caltech - Edinburgh University International Exchange program. I’ve only been here just over a week yet have been exposed to so many new people, perspectives, foods, and classes.
When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!