So one of the really neat things about Caltech is that it is small enough that it’s very easy to get involved in different activities. Obviously if you don’t plan well it can overwhelm you (but that’s true anywhere), but needless to say there are plenty of opportunities. So, when house elections came around, I decided to run for ARC representative for Page House. The ARC (Academics and Research Committee) is a student’s main link to dealing with problems that occur in classes; however, it also runs some really cool programs to encourage student-professor interactions such as student-faculty lunches (where once a month a group of students who sign up get a free lunch catered by the Athenaum (the nicest, members-only facility on campus), and get to talk to a prof). In addition, the ARC publishes a guide to academics for freshmen. In recent years, newer programs have also started through the ARC, including course capturing, so it’s now possible to re-watch certain classes’ lectures if you feel you may have missed something. All in all, it seemed like an opportunity to stretch myself and work to make Caltech an even better place. Unfortunately, I did not win the election :(. However, the next week, I received an email asking people to apply for ARC Rep-at-Large positions and, as I talked about last term, I applied and received one of the openings. However, by the time this happened, it was near the end of term so my first ARC meeting was on ARC Retreat.
I often joke that I came to Caltech for the birds of paradise. That’s one of the things I really clearly remember from my tour; it was the middle of February and these beautiful flowers were blooming all over campus. Coming from my cold climate, this seemed like a really nice concept. And really, it’s amazing how much nice weather can help a person’s attitude… yes, Caltech is hard, but at the same time, when you go out on a walk in the middle of winter in shorts and a t-shirt, it feels great even if you didn’t sleep the night before. But anyways, one of the really amazing things about Southern California is the number of gardens and arboretums around. I’m pretty sure just about every town has one and they’re an amazing escape from the craziness that can overwhelm you quickly. Luckily, the one closest to Caltech called the Huntington is also one of the largest and most beautiful and includes a large collection of artwork and historic documents including a Gutenberg Bible.
And tautologies are tautologies. But yes, due to Martin Luther King Day, we had a 3 day weekend this weekend, which lead to lots of fun and even more good food. On top of that, my friend Christine had a friend named Helen from another college visiting, so we made sure to give her an especially good time. Combined with beautiful weather (80 degrees and sunny all weekend), we had a lot of fun.
So most houses do some sort of ski or beach-type trip. My house (Page) goes on an annual ski trip, though I didn’t go last year due to conflicts. This year, all my friends and I decided to go and due to the house subsidizing the trip, it only cost us 10 dollars. So on Friday afternoon (after classes, which I’ll talk about in another post), we packed warm clothes and headed to Mammoth Mountain, about 300 miles north and east of Caltech and significantly higher in elevation. We arrived around 9 and found our way into our condo. Page had rented a bunch of condos, each of which held about 10 people and had kitchens for cooking (yum!). Most of our car had eaten during the ride, so we got right into playing games and fun, though we went to bed fairly early so we could enjoy the next (full) day.
So if you’ve been reading the blogs for a while, you’ll know that Jennifer went to Disneyland during Thanksgiving. You also may have read that I took public transportation to Disneyland on the last day of spring term last year. So this post may make you think that Techers live in Disneyland. Unfortunately (or fortunately), that’s not true. However, when you mention that the place of many people’s childhood dreams is only a 45 or so minute drive away from their college, they get excited.