culture

Always Remember to Get Gas: An Epic Retelling of a Dire Situation

Now, based on the title you may be wondering what kind of story this will be. As you will soon find out, it’s a story of adventure born out of the pure, dark chaos that fills the minds of sleep deprived Caltech undergrads.

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academics

Ge 1: A Journey Along the Eastern Sierras

At Caltech it is a graduation requirement to take a “menu” class, courses which introduce you to areas of study outside of your major. This year, there were three courses offered in the third term: ESE 1, Ay 1, and Ge 1. I took Ge 1: Earth and Environment for two reasons. First, ever since the first term I have been interested in the idea of minoring in geology (I might major in it instead!) and the class piqued my interest. Second, the class has an awesome multi-day field trip. While I’m not usually a fan of the outdoors, preferring to stay inside and read books or watch anime, this trip was the highlight of my term. As we went up the 395 along the Eastern Sierra’s, the geological makeup of California was revealed before my eyes. So come on a journey across California with me through my Ge 1 field trip photo gallery.

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global

Keeping in Touch with Friends from Home

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.

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research

My Summer as a Process Chemistry Intern at Gilead Sciences

This summer I had the incredible opportunity to do a 10-week internship at Gilead Sciences in Foster City, CA. For those unfamiliar, Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a research-based biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative medicines.

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culture academics

Film Club #1: A Tale of Two Schools

I’m starting a new miniseries on the blog – Film Club! Each episode, I’ll share a short clip from a popular piece of media, and then completely dissect and overanalyze it, because let’s face it, I’m doing it in my head already anyway. You say “buzzkill.” I say “science.” We’ll kick things off with a clip from Gravity Falls I discussed a bit in my previous post: Season 2 Episode 12, A Tale of Two Stans. If somehow you haven’t watched this show yet (?!)… spoilers incoming!

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culture academics

App season survival tips

It’s crazy to think that I began applying to college almost three years ago. I still remember spending hours looking at college websites, admissions blogs and reddit pages to try to get a sense of what college is ACTUALLY like. To help you get through these stressful times, here are a few tips that I wish I had listened to. Hopefully, these will ease your worries and maybe even make the process more enjoyable!?

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academics

The DEFINITIVE Caltech Study Spots Ranking

The DEFINITIVE Caltech Study Spots Ranking

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culture

Athena's Top Hits: 2021-2022 Through My Ears

As someone who listens to lots of music, many songs on my playlists remind me of specific memories from my past year at Caltech. Here are a few, in no particular order:

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culture

Caltech Through Courtyards

One of the unique things that Caltech students experience in their first year (if they opt in, of course) is a process called rotation. During rotation, over the course of their first two weeks on campus, first year students get to visit each of the eight houses, attend dinners and speak to current house members to decide which residences they like best. Students can also choose to live in unaffiliated housing, such as Marks, Braun, or Bechtel. Overall, Rotation is a really great way to get to know fellow Techers and the houses themselves, to help you make your ranking of the houses! However, you may have noticed that there aren’t too many blogs describing what the houses are like, and what traits they generally have. This is because we have something called ‘Rotation Rules’ in which students ‘may speak freely about direct, personal experiences within the residential system at Caltech’ but are encouraged not to share any rumors or stereotypes they may have heard about houses. This is to ensure that first year students get to experience the houses without bias and make decisions based on their own experiences. All that being said, you may be curious of what the houses look like, especially since COVID has prevented a lot of students from visiting, or going inside the houses. So, I went around the houses and took pictures of all of the residential courtyards on campus. Perhaps they will give you a feel for the houses, and where we as students hang out!

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culture

Venerable Birthday Tradition

When packing for college, the first thing on your mind is likely not about celebrating your birthday. However, months later, as the inevitable birthday approaches, you may actually start to wonder what a birthday looks like without the friends and family you’ve likely spent every year with. Thankfully, at Caltech, there are many opportunities to make sure that a birthday away is just as good, if not better, than the one at home. One example is the Venerable house birthday tradition.

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clubs

Summer Preseason

Unlike many students, I never had the opportunity to visit Caltech before enrolling. I had visited California once in elementary school, and the first time I returned was to move in for college. The only time I had ever left home before was for a week or two of sleepaway camp. Now, I would be moving across the country to a place I had never seen before with a bunch of strangers. Naturally, I was a bit terrified.

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culture academics

Impostor Syndrome at Caltech

Studying at Caltech is a lot like crewing a spaceship. You get to work alongside some of the most talented people on Earth, you’re constantly doing science in order to survive, and the environment tends to keep you under a lot of pressure. It’s an incredible experience, and also a very challenging one, to be sure. Sometimes you’re left feeling like an impostor among your crewmates, having failed to complete every task you think is expected of you. But fear not! These feelings are not based in reality; they are merely symptoms of a benign condition known as impostor syndrome. Think you might be affected? This post is for you.

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Puzzles on campus

Puzzles on campus

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Tips for International Students, Part 1: Employment

Adjusting to Caltech, California, and the United States as an international student can be difficult at first: you have to get used to the different systems and cultures and understand the limitations that come with your status as an F-1 student in the United States. I myself was an international student for three years in high school, which provided me an opportunity to adjust culturally, but coming to Caltech as a college student, I still had to research and learn more about things I can and cannot do in the United States as an F-1 student, which was time-consuming and confusing at first.

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local

Transportation on Campus and Beyond

Transportation on Campus and Beyond

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culture

A Desk Full of Mementos

Always not quite organized, my desk is a constant, yet subtle reminder of why I ultimately chose Caltech: the people. (sigh… I bet you haven’t heard that one before!). It’s no secret that Caltech has a small undergraduate population but, in my experience, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find your people, it means you’ll be able to find them faster!

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culture

Interhouse Construction Season

With the third term fast approaching and the status of COVID on campus pushing all major events to the spring quarter, students of the houses of Caltech were excited. The reason? Interhouse season had arrived. Interhouses, a longstanding tradition of the California Institute of Technology, are summarized as parties hosted by each respective house, usually with a theme, in which the entire undergraduate population is invited to attend. As every undergraduate house of Caltech has its own personality and characteristics, these interhouses too have their own flair depending on the house who hosts them.

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academics

Switching Majors

Did you know that you don’t have to declare a major at Caltech until about halfway through the third quarter of your freshman year? That gives you an entire two-and-a-half quarters to decide what you really want to major in. That’s quite a bit of time if I do say so myself. In fact, enough time that somewhere between coming to Caltech and declaring my major, everything changed for me - I didn’t just change my major and my projected course selections, but what I wanted to do in my future. This is my story of going from an intended bioengineering major on the pre-med track to a Computer Science/Business, Economics, and Management double major looking to go to grad school.

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culture global

American Units of Measurement (As an International Student)

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.

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culture

Lloyd Interhouse 2022

About a dozen frosh sit and stand in a semicircle around a whiteboard. Various Lloyd-themed interhouse names sit on a list awaiting their fate. One by one, possibilities are discussed and voted on, until four remain.

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culture

Mentorship

As a high achieving high school student, my role in mentoring relationships was always on the mentor/contributing side. I had never experienced what it was like to receive advice in a mentoring capacity before arriving at Caltech, and since then, I’ve had several mentors, all in different capacities. The major areas in which I have benefitted from mentorship are research, academics, and personal development. I’ve learned a lot from these relationships, and these support systems are invaluable in the context of being a new college student.

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academics

What does Lifting look like at Caltech?

What does Lifting look like at Caltech?

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Surviving SURF Summer Part 1: Cooking Japanese Curry

SURF provides you a great research opportunity with renowned professors, but it also challenges you both academically and non-academically. One of the biggest challenges you face is food: now that I only have a $500 declining balance plan instead of Anytime plan, the first alternative option I turned to was cooking. I currently live in Bechtel Residence, an unaffiliated undergraduate housing on campus. I live in a 4-person suite which comes with individual rooms and a small lounge area equipped with a microwave and a fridge, so I can keep my ingredients without worrying about forgetting or getting anything stolen. My suite is conveniently located right across the hallway from one of the three kitchens in Bechtel. Each kitchen in Bechtel comes with several pots, pans, utensils and gadgets for communal uses, as well as basic seasonings and oils, a communal fridge, a stove oven, microwaves, and a dishwasher. This summer, especially, Bechtel kitchens have been bustling with Caltech and non-Caltech students cooking and sharing meals with friends. So, I decided to give this plan a go.

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Making Friends Through SURF

As a rising sophomore, I decided to take advantage of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program, a 10-week research program, at Caltech. SURF is a great opportunity to work with professors who have expertise in the field, but it also provides you an amazing opportunity to make new friends. According to the Student-Faculty Program office at Caltech, nearly half of SURF students every year come from other institutions. Always wanting to make more friends, my friends and I decided to take advantage of this.

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research

Mars 2020 SURF

With 45 Nobel Laureates on its Faculty Roster, it’s not surprising that research is an integral part of the Caltech undergraduate experience. One of the programs that promotes such research is the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). There is no minimum knowledge or experience required to participate in a Caltech SURF. In fact, students can participate in a SURF as soon as the summer after their freshman year. It is not difficult to get a SURF. All you need to do is find a mentor who is working in an area of research that interests you and willing to mentor you through a research project. The mentor can work in a Caltech lab, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), or at another participating institution. Once you find a mentor, you work together to write a project proposal that you later send to the SURF office for review and approval. About 98% of the SURF proposals get approved. This fellowship is a great way to explore various fields of research and obtain real, hands-on experience where you get to apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve learned in class. Not only do you get to work and learn alongside your mentor, but you also get compensated for your time. The length of the SURF is ten weeks, and it starts at the beginning of the summer. However, it is not uncommon for many students at Caltech to continue their research project throughout the academic school year.

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academics

My Trip to the Galapagos!

It’s been over three months since my trip to the Galapagos, and I am still thinking about it. For seven days, we all woke up at 5:30 am on the boat, ate breakfast together, and went out as the sun was rising on our morning hike to catch frigatebirds mating or iguanas spewing salt from their nostrils. Our days were spent snorkeling with turtles, sea lions, and schools of fish, and our nights were spent sitting on the bow of the ship, talking all together under the stars. It was truly a spring break I will never forget.

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clubs

THE MISSION...

…Or, How a Disciple of Bethany Ehlmann, a Former Desert Militiaman, Moore Lab Subbasement Dwellers, Roblox’s Newest Intern, a Florida Man, and a Luminous Plasma Scientist Went to War with the Caltech Mail Center, Got Double-Crossed by AirGas Corp., Survived Three COVID Outbreaks, and Nearly Stranded Themselves in the Mojave in order to Send a Bag of Peanuts to Space (A True Story).

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academics

My Experience with Caltech Humanities

I can still recall the day college admissions results were released in the spring. In my own hubris, I was expecting a plethora of options from top schools around the country. I actually ended up with only two schools to choose from, Caltech and Columbia University, before Decision Day. “This is gonna be easy” I thought to myself. I was not thinking correctly. I was being a fool.

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culture

What Caltech major would the Avengers be?

When we think of Caltech and the Avengers, most of us would not make any sort of direct connections between the two. The only connection that comes to my mind is that many Caltech students enjoy Marvel and the Avengers. But what if we made another sort of connection. Where instead of Caltech students liking the Avengers, the Caltech students WERE the Avengers. If this was the case, what major would each Avenger be? (Note: For my emotional well-being, in this scenario, everyone is alive and happy with their lives at Caltech)

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culture

Lloyd Ditch Day: Phineas and Ferb

Ditch Day begins

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local

Eat and Walk Pasadena: Latin American Edition

We’ve all heard that the stomach is the fastest way to someone’s heart^. I never fully understood this until I got to college. While Caltech Dining Services (CDS) does its best to diversify the lunch and dinner menus, sometimes nothing can quite fulfill the craving for your mom’s home cooking. Having grown up in between Venezuela and Texas, home cooking for me looks like arepas, tacos, and brisket (among other things). Thankfully, Caltech’s location, just outside vibrant LA, makes attempts to find close seconds (to my mom’s cooking) easy and exciting. Often, I don’t even have to venture more than a mile or two from campus to find reliable favorites. Here are just a few within walking distance:

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research

The Caltech Covid Lab: Where Nothing Can Become Something

Like many students at Caltech, I suffer from a slight boba addiction, where side effects may include over caffeination, minor sugar highs, and of course, a large toll on one’s wallet. This addiction is not helped by the fact that there are at least three boba shops within walking distance of campus. So, after an entire term’s worth of boba runs, I came back from winter break with a new year’s epiphany: it was time to get a job. Rather than try to curb my addiction, I decided to find a way to subsidize it.

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research academics

Double Majoring at Caltech

Like many students, I came into Caltech with a vision in mind. I had planned to major in bioengineering, do research in a bioengineering lab, and then eventually apply for medical school during my senior year. While some people manage to follow their four-year plans, I definitely did not. Within three weeks of my first term, I had decided to completely change my initial plans, from bioengineering to chemistry. The chemistry research interested me more, but a not-so-insignificant part of this decision was a desire to do less math. Ma1a was intimidating, what can I say?

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clubs

Page Paint Night

Every midterm week and final week, Page House Peer Advocates (PAs) put on a de-stressing event. This term for midterms, the PAs hosted a painting night in conjunction with a Page dessert night. (Every Thursday, the House gives $60 to a pageboy (a member of Page) to buy a bunch of dessert and snacks for the house for dessert night.). They provided canvases, paint brushes, and a variety of paint colors for the night. It was a really fun and relaxing time to stop working on sets or studying for midterms for a bit and hangout with friends.

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culture local

A Heavenly Day at Angels Stadium

On May 8, the Washington Nationals came to Los Angeles Angels for a lovely Mother’s Day Game. I, being a D.C. native and avid Nationals fan, of course had to attend– the Nationals play the Angels very rarely because they play in different leagues and on opposite coasts. My dad and I have a goal of going to all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums, and we had to take advantage of our home team being in L.A., so my mom and dad both flew out for the weekend.

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academics

Reflections: My Favorite Classes

Four weeks before graduation! While I’m looking forward to the summer and all the fun it promises, I’m also reflecting on my undergraduate experience over the past few years. This is a blog about my favorite classes during my time here, some expected and others less so. As a Computer Science major, no CS classes actually make my final cut, but my top three favorite classes all fall into the realm of Neuroscience, my other primary academic interest.

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culture

Being a Caltech Athlete

As I write this blog, I’m sitting on a grassy knoll on Pomona-Pitzer’s campus. It’s the last match of my final season of tennis here at Caltech. It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling to be done with my college tennis career (unless I decide to use my final year of NCAA eligibility, granted to athletes affected by the COVID-19 pandemic). Being a part of the women’s tennis team here has been a defining part of my identity and where I met my community on campus. In this blog, I want to discuss a bit of the process of becoming an NCAA athlete, the Caltech experience of handling schoolwork and a sport, and my take on how it affected my growth here.

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academics

Humanities at Caltech

I remember being a junior in HS and my APCS partner, Brooke, had just gotten accepted into Caltech. She was looking at the course catalog for humanities courses during class (instead of working on our project) and shaking her head at the offerings. When May rolled around, she told me part of the reason she didn’t choose to go to Caltech was how the humanities courses seemed to be “too scientific,” with classes that integrated history with quantum physics, etc. A year later, when I was in the same situation, I decided to matriculate to Caltech for its strong STEM offerings, but felt some anxiety about how my love of the humanities would be fed during my four years of undergraduate education.

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academics

Interactions with Professors

One of the most well-known benefits of being a Caltech student is the infamous 3:1 student to faculty ratio, which implies a personalized, interactive undergraduate experience with world-class research scientists. It was a primary reason why I chose Caltech above other schools as a high school senior. Now as my time at Caltech comes to a close, I can reflect back on my interactions with different professors and consider if this 3:1 ratio really “lives up to the hype.” I believe the answer is yes.

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clubs local

Socal College Poker Tournament

On the weekend of April 16th, my friends and I participated in the first ever Southern California College Poker Tournament! The tournament was for college students in the SoCal area with a $0 buy-in that doubled as a recruiting event for quant and finance firms. A senior friend of mine (Vanessa, a fellow blogger) put together a team of five girls who had no interest in being recruited and just wanted to have fun playing poker.

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culture local

Emily's 626/SGV Recs #3: Little Tokyo

Little Tokyo is a bit far from Caltech, but a fun LA experience overall, especially for anyone who likes Japanese food and/or culture.

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academics

Favorite Courses at Caltech

Below I have listed my favorite classes after 8 terms of classes at Caltech in no particular order. I picked these based on my overall enjoyment of the course, which depended on my interest in the subject, the quality of course, and the various topics/projects covered.

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Spotlight


academics

My Trip to the Galapagos!

It’s been over three months since my trip to the Galapagos, and I am still thinking about it. For seven days, we all woke up at 5:30 am on the boat, ate breakfast together, and went out as the sun was rising on our morning hike to catch frigatebirds mating or iguanas spewing salt from their nostrils. Our days were spent snorkeling with turtles, sea lions, and schools of fish, and our nights were spent sitting on the bow of the ship, talking all together under the stars. It was truly a spring break I will never forget.

By
culture

Caltech Food Tour

Caltech may be a small campus, but it has a large variety of food options. There are three main dining locations on campus — The Lee F. Browne Dining Hall, the Hameetman Center (which houses our beloved Red Door Cafe), and the Broad Café.

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academics

Some Late-Night Stress-Saving Food Runs

Midterms kept up its unrelenting attack on my sanity this week – at least a little bit. And how did I solve this? Two words.

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global local culture

Quick Trip to the Beach

Although there are a lot of smaller things, such as midterm smoothies and milkshakes (Blacker does something similar to this) and some larger things like Faculty Dessert Night, the soc team usually agrees that beach trip is the most work.

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