So somehow it worked out that I got back to Caltech on the same day that I started classes. I had arrived at the airport around 11:30 p.m. on January 3, but my shuttle didn’t drop me off until 1:30 am. It wasn’t too bad though, my first class started at 10 am so I was able to get a decent night’s sleep. And at least I wasn’t driving from Colorado- my friend Matt arrived around 4 in the morning after driving the whole day.
This is going to be my second and final term completely on pass/fail. Over break I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to test how well I can do by working hard and then learn what I’m going to need to adjust for third term, or if I wanted to sort of get by and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere as I did first term. Well I figured that it would be easier to start working hard and then slack than to slack and then begin working hard, so I chose the former. We’ll see how long I can keep it up.
Turns out I have picked the best set of classes I personally could have. I can just tell that my Humanities course is going to be great this term- I’m taking Right and Wrong, a class on the philosophy behind morals, and already in the first class some heated discussion took place. Also, it somehow worked out that the combination of practical track Math and analytical track Physics allowed me to be worry-free over the ski-trip from the 6th-8th with no homework due. (Both anal Math and prac Physics had work the first week back.) Then when I got back Sunday afternoon from the ski trip, I couldn’t even start chemistry work early because they had not posted it online yet. You could say I’m feeling pretty good about the start of this term.
Now on to the ski trip:
For the most part I believe people had fun, but the snow… well let’s just say there wasn’t much of it. Mammoth Mtn. and that whole area had not gotten much snow this year, so anything that we were skiing on was man-made snow. Which unfortunately turns to ice much more readily than real snow. That didn’t stop me from skiing for 7 hours straight though! I hadn’t been skiing for more than 2 years, so I simply had to get on the slopes. It was awesome.
I went to the top of the mountain at some point, partially to say I had and partially because I got to ride the hardest slope up there, and the worst part was not the steep incline. It was the wind. At that altitude, the wind was intense, and it picked up ice from the slopes as it went. Sort of felt like it was hailing upwards. Once you got 30 feet down the mountain it got a little better though, and I was able to enjoy the run.
Other than skiing, it was fun hanging out with all my Venerable friends.
On the way back, one group of cars drove by Johnny Depp!! After basically stalking him on the highway for about an hour, my roommate got the photo below. I don’t know if you can, but if you download the photo and zoom in, it really does look like him. He seems a little angry too…
Unfortunately, it turned out that the tattoos were a little different than the ones on the real Johnny Depp, though this guy could have definitely fooled me.
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!