So far in Boston I have visited two different art museums, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). Although the museums were fairly close to each other, I did visit on different days. Both are very accessible from the green line, which was super convenient considering how blistering hot Boston has been lately. Also, something I learned recently is that MIT students get into both art museums for free by just showing their ID, so of course I showed my very much temporary and very much not a student MIT ID and saved some money.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner museum was established by Isabella Stewart Gardner when she decided to turn her private collection into a public museum. She converted her house into the museum during her lifetime but it has since expanded far beyond that – and by house I mean palace. I really enjoyed the interesting mix of artwork, historical texts, and other antiquities. Although walking through what used to be someone’s house and is now a public museum is kind of strange. One of my favorite parts was the beautiful courtyard garden in the center of her house. Four stories surround this glass-ceilinged courtyard that has beautiful flowers, interesting statues, and an intricate mosaic tile that can be viewed from both the ground and the upper levels. The newer section of the museum housed an exhibit on maps. My first thought was “Oh, how boring – MAPS!” but it was actually a very well thought-out exhibit that traced the development of parks and greenery in major cities. They had several blueprint-like maps of the Emerald Necklace in Boston, Central Park in New York, and the lake shore area of Chicago. Overall was a very worthwhile experience.
The Museum of Fine Arts is first of all enormous and second very well organized. I did not get a chance to explore the entire 3-story museum, but I did try to hit part of each section. The museum is divided into 5 different sections: art of the ancient world, art of the Americas, art of Europe, contemporary art, and art of Asia. I’m not exactly sure which section this was in, but when I first arrived I started in an exhibit of musical instruments from classical harpsichords to the electric guitar. Being a musician myself, I found it especially captivating to see the progression of musical instruments throughout history. I also really enjoyed seeing the ancient Egypt / mummy exhibit. Yes, they have real live mummies! Well… real dead mummies that is. Speaking of strange exhibits, they had this case full of different shaped bottles and vases with mirrors that created the illusion of infinite bottles. The simplicity of an ordinary object like the vases in combination with the mirror effect was quite captivating and my picture definitely does not do it justice.
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!