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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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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culture local

Emily's 626/SGV Recs #2: Boba Worth Driving To

A few days ago, I wrote a blog post for recommendations of boba around Caltech. This follow up includes a far more comprehensive list of boba shops in the 626/SGV area. Now, I’ll admit that I have a rather extensive spreadsheet of boba stores and drinks that I’ve tried and enjoyed or disliked. However, I’d rather not bore everyone with a full spreadsheet, especially when it reveals just how much boba I’ve had each year. However, if I attempted to write about all of the shops I’ve tried, this post would get too long, so it’s instead compressed into a much more easily digestible format: a Tiermaker list. Obviously, this is the most sophisticated possible presentation of this information and 100% objective. Definitely tested via the scientific method and not subject to personal bias whatsoever.

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culture local

Emily's 626/SGV Recs #1: Boba Near Caltech

In the past few years, boba or bubble tea has exploded in popularity, with stores opening up all across the country. As a very avid but picky boba drinker, this has been a blessing for me, as I’ve been able to try drinks from so many new stores. In the past four years, I’ve been able to try what might be conservatively called a fairly significant portion of boba stores in the Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley area (otherwise known as 626/SGV).

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culture

What's On Your Desk?

I feel like a person’s desk or workspace can tell you a lot about them. So, I’ll reveal my darkest secrets and take you on a tour of my desk at Caltech! To begin, I’ll note that the dorm rooms have varying sizes/types of desks, so not all of them look like this; for example, bunk bed rooms in some houses have a desk as the bottom “bunk”, and so the desk spans the entire length of the bed. In comparison, mine is a standalone desk with some shelves on top of it. Regardless, I think what matters more is what a person chooses to put on/around their desk, so it’s time to show you all the nerdy things I have decorated my desk with.

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culture

A Day in the Life: Jen

In this blog, I want to take you through a day in my life as a Caltech student. My daily routine has varied greatly since I arrived. In high school, I used to wake up early in the morning to run and play tennis; upon arriving at Caltech my freshman year, my wake-up time quickly shifted back to the 10-11am time range. Now that I’m a senior who has more of her life together, I’ve begun to start my day early again so that I can get a jumpstart. There’s nothing like waking up to the California sunshine and to feel the crisp morning air on your face.

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culture

Peer Advocates

I’ve been involved with the Peer Advocate program since my freshman year at Caltech. I always regarded myself as a person who could listen to and empathize with others, and enjoyed serving that role to my friends and peers in high school. A Peer Advocate is trained to build listening skills to address mental health issues in their peers and to improve the residential experience through hosting office hours and house events. It’s one of the most unique programs at the school and provides a valuable resource for all Caltech students.

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culture

The Residential Experience (Caltech RA's)

At Caltech, RA can stand for “Research Assistant,” but more commonly refers to “Resident Associate.” RAs are full-time graduate students who live in the houses with undergraduates and help to manage student activities and the house community. Recently, my house (Fleming) got a new RA, after our old RA, Steve, went off to do his postdoc at Yale University.

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culture

Ceramics @ Caltech

Many people, after getting into Caltech, get excited about taking a certain class, meeting a famous professor, or getting the chance to work at NASA. When I got into Caltech, I spent a week looking at the course catalog. Then, I sent a message to Ankita, an upperclassman on the tennis team who had hosted me when I visited the school. “How’s the Ceramics class?” I asked. To this day, she still laughs about me being the girl who asked about Ceramics even before getting information about the core requirements and whatnot (she didn’t know anything, by the way.) This year, my senior year, my schedule finally allowed me to squeeze in the class I’ve wanted to take before I even graduated high school – Ceramics.

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culture

How to be a sk8ter girl

Skateboards, trick boards, long boards, Pennyboards, electric skateboards — Lloyd house has them all, and you, too, can learn how to ride a skateboard indoors on its carpeted hallways.

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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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culture local

Love and Rage: My Experience Organizing for Environmental Justice

As a Caltech student, I obviously have a love for STEM. But for me, that love is incomplete without the bigger picture—the role that STEM can play in helping society. That connection between science and humanity served as the initial motivation for one of my primary passions: organizing for environmental justice.

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local culture

Reminiscing on Dodgers Playoff Games

Now that the 2021 baseball season has come to close, I want to take a little trip down memory lane to the 2019 Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs. To set the scene, after an exciting wild card game win, the Washington Nationals (my team) began a five game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers win the first and third game of the series, and the Nationals win the second and fourth game, making game five a do-or-die situation. The final game took place at Dodgers Stadium, a mere 20 minute drive from Caltech. I pounced on this opportunity, going to the game with my fellow baseball-fanatic and Caltech student, Arya.

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culture

Musings on a Small School

Whenever I tell someone that Caltech has an undergraduate population of less than one thousand people, their first reaction is disbelief. “Really?” they exclaim. “You must know everyone! How can you get a real college experience with so few undergrads?”

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culture

Greek Life or Lack Thereof at Caltech

One of the most exciting aspects of college life is the freedom that students enjoy when living on their own. When most students think about college life, one of the first things that comes to mind is Greek life, with the many sororities and fraternities on campuses across the country. While Caltech does not have Greek life, per se, we do have a unique housing system, similar to that of Hogwarts. There are eight houses and one residence on campus: Avery, Blacker, Dabney, Fleming, Lloyd, Page, Ricketts, Venerable, and the Bechtel Residence. Each of the houses has its own unique culture, character, and traditions. I am a member of Venerable House!

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culture

Living in the Virtual School Year

This past year was so different than most of us could have ever imagined. Living in “the virtual school year” posed a plethora of challenges, but at the same time, it opened the door to new possibilities. As a society, we learned how to better operate in a virtual world, and as individuals, we had time for new endeavors. For myself, this meant taking the leap of faith to move away from home and live with some fellow Techers. While I had already had the experience of moving away from home and coming to live in the Caltech houses, this was quite different. Instead of living in organized student residences with hundreds of other students, a meal plan, and tons of support resources, I was about to go live with just 5 other people (some of which I did not know super well) and we had to find and manage our own housing, food, and necessities.

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local culture

Pasadena, City of Roses

Even if you’ve heard of Caltech before, you might never have heard of Pasadena, the quaint Los Angeles suburb it’s tucked into.

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culture

Rotation Rotation Rotation - The Caltech Houses

My favorite part about Caltech is the Houses! The easiest way to describe them is as Hogwarts houses: each has their own personality and group of people and the first thing you do at Caltech is go through a “sorting” process. The people are what makes the Houses at Caltech so great. As a frosh, it’s amazing to be able to come in and immediately have a group of 100+ people to support you. Because the Houses have students from every grade, you make friends with upperclassmen and can ask for help on tons of things like:

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academics culture

My Best Advice for the Class of 2025

It’s crazy to think that it has been four years now since I was applying to college. I remember it vividly. This week we’re spending some time reflecting on our personal admissions processes, and how we ended up at Caltech. There’s one question though that I wanted to spin out into a separate post: “what advice would you give to the admitted class of 2025?” And I think the best way to do this is to tell a more detailed story than I did in my other post.

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academics culture

Zooming Through the Year

These past six months have been a whirlwind- from having to move out of Caltech housing in March within a week’s notice due to COVID-19, to starting the first term of my junior year, I’ve definitely experienced a lot of change. When I went home in March, it was to a completely new state-my family moved from Chino, CA to New Jersey in January (great timing, huh?). While I missed seeing my friends from home, it was fun to have the chance to explore a completely new place. The pandemic obviously limited what I could see and do, but I got to experience walks through nature and along rivers normally foreign to a SoCal native and had some time to focus on bioinformatics research for the lab I work with on campus.

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culture

Photos From the Time of Covid

It’s month 6 of quarantine and I’m writing to you from Colorful Colorado (also known as the state where it snowed last week and was 95 out today). Climate change? Maybe. International conspiracy by the Greek God Zeus to make me miss Pasadena and Caltech more than I already do? Most definitely.

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culture

String food = new String(“Too Much Food”);

Hello, Java monsters! If you couldn’t tell from my EXCELLENT punning, I’m taking CS 2 this term, a computer science course about the wonderful world of Java. That’s one of my new classes for this term. Also included: plate tectonics, seismology, field geophysics, physics lab, and a design-your-own English class about American minimalism as a prep-course for my thesis (which I’m hoping to start next term).

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culture

Snowboarding at Cypress

Snowboarding with my friend Cecilia is an annual occasion when I go home for the holidays. Cecilia and I actually learned snowboarding a few years ago. We signed up for these intro lessons, but arrived at the slopes early and thought that we would try a run before the lesson to see where we at. We were slightly confused, so took the lift to a green run instead of the bunny hills. We got down that run 80% on our butt and 20% on our feet, but it was a great start. By the end of that day’s lesson, we were getting down that same run 80% on our feet. Of course, now we are much better.

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culture

Ice Skating

Ice skating seems rather uncommon here in Southern California as there are only two year-round rinks within driving distance of Caltech. One is the Pasadena Ice Skating Center which is only minutes away, the other is the Santa Monica Rink which is way out west. The interesting thing is, the Olympic figure skating Mirai Nagasu is actually local. Her family owns a sushi restaurant in Arcadia that is only 10 minutes away. There are a lot of Caltech events at the Pasadena rink. The houses often play broomball with each other. For broomball, we would rent out the entire rink. It’s extremely fun and you do not need to know to skate to play. My friends and I have also gone a couple of times to actually skate during their public skate sessions. In fact, two weekends ago, a friend and I headed over to polish up our extremely rusty skating skills.

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culture

A Night of Poetry

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L'X Campus

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culture

OC Can You Say?

It’s Sunday night and you know what that means: FOOD! TRUCK! ROAD! TRIP! (minus the truck part of the food truck).

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culture

Caltech Art Gala

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

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culture

LACMA

Caltech is starting a new Visual Culture program funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and headed by the Caltech Humanities and Social Sciences Department. The program will include new courses, a postdoctoral instructor, artists-in-residence, guest lecturers, and the addition of a visual culture professor to the faculty. The first artist-in-residence is Leslie Thornton, who is an experimental filmmaker. She’ll be teaching a class on the concept of time in filmmaking next term, which seems really interesting! As part of this program, Professor Jurca took a group of 12 students to the LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. We were there to specifically see the “Double Vision” exhibit, which focuses on 3D art. Many of the exhibits required special 3D glasses for viewing. There were three different types of glasses, each for different kinds of 3D art. One of them was just like the ones you get at 3D movies, and another was the classic one red lens one blue lens type. There were also exhibits that did not require you to use glasses, and others that asked you to look through other lenses like the in the photos below. You can find more about the exhibit here.

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culture

Nevada

My favorite part of every term is Geology (Ge) 136. Ge 136 is a field trip based class open any undergraduate or graduate students at the institute. Each student in the class chooses a topic, writes a brief report, and then presents on it in the field. Mostly members of the Geological and Planetary Sciences (GPS, another classic Caltech pun) enroll, meaning the class is always filled with people ready to answer any questions about colorful rocks, weird extremophile microbes native to the region, or even the planets and stars we can see at night (most trips are in regions with low light pollution so the Milky Way is generally visible).

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culture

My Favorite Udon Place (!!)

My favorite udon place of all time is Marugame Monzo in Little Tokyo. I found out about it in my freshman year, and I’ve never been disappointed! This is what the main street of Little Tokyo looks like:

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Spotlight


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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culture

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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