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Organized Chaos

Hi all! My name’s Rachel, and I’m a sophomore in Electrical Engineering here at Caltech. Throughout the course of this blog, I hope to share with you a few of my experiences here.

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What's ASB?

Hola! I’m Katja, a junior chem major.

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Gender Neutral Night

**

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Hello Again!

It’s been a while since I last blogged, and it feels good to be back! First off, I’d like to congratulate the regular decision admitted students. If admissions accepts you, that means you can handle the workload. So don’t worry about it! I was intimidated by the academic rigor of this school before I came as well. Hopefully you all come to PFW; it’s a ton of fun!

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Little Shop of Horrors

So, it turns out my friends are pretty talented. I mean, everyone here is pretty talented. But, some of my friends (and some awesome other students, Caltech and JPL employees, and other community members) are really talented in the acting/singing/dancing department. Last weekend, I went to go see Caltech’s (EXPLICIT)’s spring musical, Little Shop of Horrors. Every year, they put on one play and one musical, and anyone in the Caltech community, including students, JPL employees, and professors, can audition and be a part of one of the productions. This year’s production of LIttle Shop of Horrors featured my friend (who went on Birthright with me!) Jeff Sherman as Seymour, the lead. Holly, a JPL employee played Audrey, and Alex Jose (also on the Birthright trip) was Orrin, the Dentist.

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clubs

Iron Chef Caltech

Every spring break, I spend my time doing these oh-so-productive activities:

  1. Sleep for 12 hours a day.
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New Horizons for Pluto

I reference my SURF topic in my post about SURF proposals, but I thought I’d elaborate more on what I’ll be doing here, while I wait for April 1 to hear whether my proposal has been accepted.

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The Classic Swiss High-Alpine Hike

When we got up in the morning, the clouds had cleared and we could see a light dusting of snow all over the mountains. Today, we decided to do part of the classic Swiss high-Alpine hike of the Bernese Alps, which leads from First to the Faulhorn summit (2670m above sea level) to Schynige Platte (2068m) via Berghaus Manndlenen. Along the way, the stunningly scenic views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains with the turquoise-blue waters of Lake Brienz shimmering deep down in the valley were heralded as a must-see! In the wintertime, there is a World Cup ski-cross course on First above Grindelwald.

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clubs

A Day at the Santa Anita Race Track

On Saturday, my house had a social event at the Santa Anita Race Track. If you’re not familiar with the Santa Anita Race Track, it is the race track at which Seabiscuit raced. It was a beautiful day, about 80 degrees out, and we had a great time.

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More Celebrations!

Last Friday was Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (IGED) hosted by the Caltech Society of Women Engineers (SWE). The name is pretty self-explanatory, but we basically introduce high school girls to what engineering and science is like through lab tours, demonstrations, design contest, and more. As historian, I took photos during the design contest, in which the girls were given some materials to construct a structure that could hold to most weight (books). I think the girls had fun and hopefully some of them will put some serious thought into becoming scientists or engineers someday.

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culture

VDay Brunch and CNY Hot Pot

So this past Sunday, the men of Avery made brunch for all the ladies. Tom Mannion hosted the event at his house. The guys made omlettes, eggs benedict, hash browns, and quiches. There were also croissants, bagels, and fresh fruit. Our frosh UCC Saurabh also came back to visit, so that was a nice surprise. He’s working for SIG in Philly now as a trader. I believe that the UCC/house system here at Caltech truly makes this small community feel like a family. Saurabh always took us on frosh walk and talks, and made sure each of us were doing well. Now as a junior, I try to do the same unofficially by walking around the house when taking a break from sets and talking to all the frosh I didn’t get to meet last term while abroad. The class of 2016 is pretty cool, and I can’t wait to meet all you prospective prefrosh in April for Prefrosh Weekend (PFW)! :)

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clubs

Celebrate Valentine's Day, the Fleming Way

As the recently elected Social Chairman of Fleming House, I am in charge of organizing weekend social events for Fleming. This past weekend we had a Valentine’s dress dinner, for which Tom Mannion cooked. If you haven’t heard of Tom Mannion, his official title is Senior Director for Student Activities and Programs, but we like to call him the Senior Director for Student Happiness because that’s exactly what he does. He’s also an outsanding cook and the instructor for the cooking class that I’m currently taking.

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culture

Rainy Day Hike of Lauterbrunnen Valley to the Phenomenal Trummelbach Falls

When we woke up in the morning, dark grey clouds hung over the Lauterbrunnen valley and obscured the sunlight. It began raining soon after we went to the CO-OP supermarket for a quick breakfast of bread and cheese. We decided it would be the perfect opportunity to hike along the valley and to see the Trummelbach falls, which are a series of ten glacier waterfalls. The rain picked up very quickly and my water resistant jacket became insufficient. We stopped by a local store and I had to buy an very large blue poncho to shield against the persistently pelting rain.

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High Particle Physics and the United Nations

Today Carly and I got up early to go on a fascinating up close tour of CERN, which is also know as the European Organization for Nuclear Research. (The acronym CERN actually comes from the French name for the particle physics lab:Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire.) We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to get an insider view of CERN byJavier Duarte and Alex Mottof Caltech Professor Maria Spiropulu’s experimental particle physics group. We had read about the research and facility in the news and seen pictures, but we were definitely very excited to get a firsthand look especially in light of the recent Higgs-Boson discovery. We first met with Javier who drove us across CERN to Point 5. It took us approximately 15-20 minutes just to drive across CERN and we were impressed with how large the instrument actually is in real life, as part of it lies in France.

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Calm before the storm?

Calm before the storm? Hiya, This past weekend my friend Erica got baptized! Her parents came down for the ceremony and provided dinner/desserts. Congrats :) I’m so glad to have met these girls frosh year and to have their support in all that I do.

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Boba

Hi again,

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Hanging out in Avery

The trustees and founders of Avery House don’t allow murals on our white walls, but we are allowed to decorate bulletin boards in each hallway as a compromise. Joe, our Resident Life Coordinator (RLC), gave us a bunch of paint and murals to paint on. Our Alley 6 took the initiative to go first. Jessica, Sophia, and I painted an impression of Avery with a tower for Alley 6 since the lounge closest to my alley is called Upper Guard Tower (UGT) and obviously because Alley 6 is the best ; P I haven’t really painted since art classes during high school, so it was a lot of fun to pick up a brush again and express our creativity.

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Griffith Park

Last weekend was no ordinary weekend; it was one of the most anticipated weekends on the term. For what reason you may wonder? For the simple reason that it was a three-day weekend. Since Caltech is on a quarter system, we unfortunatley do not get as many breaks as most Techers would like during the term. However, as a trade-off of sorts, we do have a longer than usual spring break. Also, not having to do sets during spring break is a major plus (I know my friends at semester schools always groan about having work to do over long breaks).

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global

Tedx and Big Bear

Last Friday we had TEDx at Caltech (x = independently organized event). TEDx is basically a day long conference with lots of short (under 20 minute) speaker presentations that are designed to inspire you to think about new things. The theme for this conference was “The Brain,” which was great for me because I think neurology is really cool. I like TED talks a lot because almost all the talks that I’ve seen have some sort of innovative component to them. Whether the talk is about an interesting social theory or an on-the-edge-of-science technology, it gets my mind going about different concepts and increases my perspective on the world. They’re like a library of ideas on video, and they’re awesome.

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Some Swiss Gruyère cheese? Don't mind if I do!

We got up early today for our day trip to Gruyères village, which is a rural medieval town famous for its production of Gruyère cheese. We bought croissants for breakfast at a boulangerie (bakery), which were super delicious, crisp and buttery. We discovered that pastries from actual bakeries were much more delicious than the pastries from supermarkets such as Coop because Carly got an apple tart that she said was not very good.

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clubs

An introduction to fencing

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m pretty involved with the Caltech fencing team. I’m co-captain of the team, and I fence foil. In this post, I thought I’d give a quick run-down of how fencing works and how we do athletics at Caltech. I’ll also give a brief recap of the NCAA tournament we hosted here last weekend, the Western Invitational.

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Day 8

Of course, we didn’t get the good night’s sleep we wanted, because we had to be up bright and early for a full day in Jerusalem! We started the day with a tour of Hadassah, a major hospital in Jerusalem. The foundation has hospitals, medical schools, and research facilities all around Israel. And it all began as a women’s Zionist movement in America! As tired as we were, it was pretty cool to see.

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Day 7, part 2

So, after the much longer hike down Masada, we went to the Ein Geidi nature reserve. Because after a long hike, it makes perfect sense to go take another long hike. All complaining aside, though, Ein Geidi was beautiful. Within the first few minutes, we saw several ibex and other native animals.

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Day 7, part 1

We have survived a long, cold night in the Bedouin tents! It was worth it for our morning experience: camel riding. Well, camel and donkey riding. We got up early in the morning, had breakfast, and then saddled up. On the first leg of the trip, I rode a donkey.

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El Monte Airport, here I come!

I have managed to get ahead of my work, so that tomorrow I get to go flying.

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Day 6

Hello from the desert! We’ll be spending the next two days in the south of Israel, called the Negev, and we’ll be learning the history and culture of the region as well as getting to see some of the innovation that’s making the Negev a place with thriving communities.

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Day 5

On Friday evening, we arrived at Kibbutz Urim, a small kibbutz in the south of Israel, where we spent our Shabbat. If you’re not familiar with the term, Shabbat is the Jewish day of rest, spanning from Friday at sundown to Saturday sundown. Basically, it’s the Jewish weekend. Depending on how observant you are, you keep Shabbat in different ways; some people don’t observe Shabbat at all, others might go to a Kabbalat Shabbat service, light candles and have a nice dinner, while the most observant will do no work at all, including no driving, turning on lights, or writing.

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Day 1

After a long trans-Atlantic plane ride, we finally were in Switzerland!! We landed in Zurich in the morning and took an hour long flight to Geneva, where our Swiss adventures would commence. We immediately noticed in the airport and train station that everything was in the three Swiss official languages—French, German, Italian, and only some English. Everyone (at least the airport and train employees) seemed to be trilingual and also spoke English.Also, customs was super easy to go through. I think customs and security combined during our layover in Zurich took a total of 15 minutes, and we didn’t even have to take our shoes off to go through security, which was a pleasant surprise for us.

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Days 3-4

We spent the last two days in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, one of Israel’s largest cities. We did a lot, so I’ll give you guys the highlights.

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Happy New 一二!

(Yi Er means One Two, and sounds similar to Year. Heh, something I should’ve mentioned in my intro is that I love puns! :P Bear with me, please, I’ll try to keep the cheesiness to a minimum.)

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Day 1

Unlike most American Jews, who probably spent Christmas eating Chinese food and watching Les Miserables, we had a really busy day today! We started the day with breakfast at 7am, sharp, which is no fun with jetlag. Breakfast on the kibbutz is really interesting (and delicious); we were all expecting Lucky Charms, but it mostly consisted of salad, hummus, and cheese. It was really good, though!

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Reflections on first term

Winter break flew by almost as fast as first term, and when I come to think about it, a ton happened during my first exposure to college.I learned how to write mathematical proofs, program in Python, and much more knowledge through my classes. With a set due every week, by the end of ten weeks you really learn a lot! In addition to academics, I also adjusted to college life this first term, getting used to doing my own laundry and being away from home. But even with all of this, the biggest thing I'm taking from first term is the friends/connections I've made. I could tell my friend whom I've known for weeks at Caltech something I wouldn't be comfortable saying to someone I've known for years. I've found people that are like me,which makes them so much easier to relate to and become close friends with. In addition, many of us now share experiences and similar perspectives.
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Resolutions?

Happy New Year! : )

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Home Sweet Home

Hi guys, So I’ve been enjoying spending time with my family and old friends here in Jacksonville. I’ve definitely been catching up on some sleep. I made the mistake of going to see *The Hobbit *with some friends the day after I got back-jetlag made me super sleepy during the long movie, but fortunately I stayed awake. It was pretty good. I also made some snickerdoodles (I know how much you guys loved them in London :P) for a Christmas party with some high school friends I haven’t seen in a year. It’s weird to think how fast time goes by and how people change. We reminisced about the past and updated each other about what’d we done in the past year.

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Merry Christmas...

….from Japan and from me, Megan L!

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Trip to LA

Since we finished finals early, my friend and I had planned to spend our day visiting the Getty Museum and the beach at Santa Monica. We were woken up a little before ten because someone had forgotten his wallet in the dorms and was already at the airport. So I got together my stuff for the day and we rushed to the airport. Let me tell you, everything you've heard about LA traffic is not exaggerated. The freeways at ten looked like the four o' clock rush hour of the highways around Boulder. Unfortunately, we were too late to catch him as much as we tried, but luckily he was able to get through security without his wallet and boarded the plane. So there we were, sitting at the LAX airport with someone else's wallet. As much as it felt like failure, we didn't let that dampen the day we had ahead of us.
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Big I! (A month late)

Alright, so Big I might have happened a month ago, but I’m really bad at using my camera so it took me about that long to figure out how to get pictures off of it and onto my computer, and Big I can’t truly be admired without fantastic pictures.

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51/51

I’m writing this in the midst of finals week, which means that every time I log on to facebook, I’m inundated with finals themed gifs, images, questions about finals (will they count ABC for partial credit? Is the PS12 exam open-homework?)and most importantly, unit countdowns. Everyone likes to watch the ticker move towards full on their unit count for the term. Now, finally, after taking 5 finals in 4 days and studying my brains out, I’m able to say that I’ve reached the 100% completion plateau for the term.

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Thanksgiving with the Family

Like many colleges, Caltech gives students only Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving break. Lucky for me, I still got to see my family. My sister, a junior in high school, had a week off of class, and so it worked out that my family drove to visit me instead of flying home. They were here for three nights, and my sister stayed with me in the dorms. She met all my friends and saw our lifestyle here at Caltech. I'm used to everything now, but from a high schooler's perspective I can see how our routine seems weird. Our sleep schedules are pushed back because classes start later and we like sleeping in. And we communicate with each other more, whether it be what to wear or related to a set; I think that's because we all live so close.
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In a land Faro, Faro away..

The best travel companion is a really good book, but a group of exciting study abroad students is a close second!Toward the beginning of the term, I met a couple American girls studying at Edinburgh for the year, and they quickly introduced me to a whole group of American kids who had met through Arcadia (study abroad program that plans weekend trips for its students). Though Caltech is not part of this program, tech kids still travel all over Europe on a student budget– we just plan our travels ourselves.

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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.

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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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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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Caltech Art Gala

Every year, Caltech’s literary and arts magazine Totem hosts the Art of Science competition.

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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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