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.
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.
Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:
The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.