At Caltech, both
the house dining rooms and Chandler, the lunchtime cafeteria, are closed on
weekends during the school year. We’re left to fend for ourselves—which is
actually awesome, because it encourages us cook our own food in the house
kitchens or gives us an excuse to go out to restaurants. During the school year
people eat out a lot on weekends or cook simple food; during the summer there
are more structured cooking groups (which I’ll talk about in a later post!) and
more time to visit restaurants outside of Pasadena.
rising junior in Lloyd) recently got a car, and he and Sam (a rising sophomore)
and I decided to go to Arcadia (a few miles from Pasadena) for dinner. We ate
at a restaurant called Au79 that serves some light dinner food but specializes
in boba drinks. I hadn’t really heard of boba before I came to Caltech.
Colloquially, boba refers to a number of milk-based drinks that have tapioca
“pearls” at the bottom (which are technically the boba, but we call the whole
drink boba). Here are Sam and me with our boba drinks.
During the school
year, our house, Lloyd, frequently has midnight boba runs. Someone with a car
will decide to take a study break and will tour the house taking people’s
orders, and then will grab a few friends and drive to a boba place and pick up
the order. It’s always chaotic when they arrive back in Lloyd: there’s a huge scramble in a common
area with everyone trying to find the drink they ordered and pay back the
person who made the trip.
A couple of days
later we had a barbecue hosted by Caltech Dining Services for SURF students. It
took place on the Olive Walk, a brick walkway (which you can see in the picture
below) between the three North and four South Houses. Towards the beginning of
the barbecue I caught this group of frosh driving around a golf cart they’d
borrowed from somewhere…(that’s the Olive Walk they’re driving on, and
beautiful Lloyd House in the background).
And, turning 180
degrees, we see SURFers having an amazing time at the barbecue in front of the
I met a bunch of
students visiting for the summer from Cambridge University (including a few
from the Ukraine!) and some students from the University of Iceland. Both
Cambridge and the University of Iceland have summer exchange programs with
Caltech, giving Caltech students the opportunity to do research at those
universities in return.
After the barbecue
I headed over to the huge lawn in front of Beckmann Institute with David, a
SURF student from Northwestern; Catherine, a freshman in Lloyd; and our new
Cambridge friends to play frisbee.
It was too dark to take pictures, so you’re going to have to just imagine us playing
Ultimate on the grass below.
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.
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.
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.