For Alumni Weekend, our house organized a dinner with Tom Mannion. The food was delicious, as always and I finally got to meet the alums that graduated a couple years ago I always hear about from the upperclassmen. But of everything, I found the older alums the most interesting. Back then, wrestling against other houses in the dining hall was not a common experience.
They said that one time, a guy from another house did something bad to Fleming (I don’t remember what it was), and then as a consequence, a couple Flems took him off-campus and shaved his head. The Flems only had a couple weeks left before graduating so they didn’t get expelled, but were punished accordingly. And now they have a song written about them, calling them the three barbers. We all thought this was hilarious, and I personally can’t imagine something like that happening now. The houses aren’t as segregated as they were before, which makes for less exciting stories but I think it’s better this way.
There was another story about how there was an old truck or something at frosh orientation camp that they were told over and over again not to touch. So, one night, they stacked picnic tables together and moved the vehicle onto the roof of one of the buildings. In the morning, the tables had all been put back and people were scratching their heads because they could not figure out how something that big got onto the roof.
The emotions that came through as they told these stories are not something I can replicate.My retelling of these stories is nowhere close to as well as the alums told them, but hopefully you got something out of it.
But back to the dinner, the current undergrads got a taste of what it was like in the past. There was a group of alums that graduated in ‘68, before Caltech began accepting women. So Fleming has this tradition of throwing folded up napkins at dinner, so a lot of us are doing that. Then, the class of ‘68 didn’t think that was enough, and so they started throwing food! All of us are dressed up, and there are green beans, cupcakes, and other foods flying through the air. I couldn’t help but laugh as I tried to retaliate. And at the end of dinner, I asked to take a picture of them and they gladly agreed:
Apparently when the women starting coming here, the men got a lot more polite; I imagine it as practically chaos before then. More pictures from the dinner:
I really enjoyed talking to the alums and hearing their stories. I wonder what I’ll remember from my experience here years from now. The house traditions we have now were present half a century ago, which I was quite impressed with. A lot of alums were even older than my parents! I wonder where I’ll be when I’m that age, but I definitely plan on coming back to visit.
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!