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study abroad global

Abroad with the Scots

After a year spent in “soft-lockdown” at home in Atlanta, and as Caltech students prepared to finally return to campus, I was aboard an eight hour flight towards Edinburgh, Scotland. Since my junior year plans were interrupted by the virus who shall not be named, I’m spending my first term of senior year studying abroad through the Caltech - Edinburgh University International Exchange program. I’ve only been here just over a week yet have been exposed to so many new people, perspectives, foods, and classes.

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global academics

Online School.. on Mars

When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!

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global

New Years in Amsterdam

I visited Amsterdam for a brief two and a half days during my vacation. There were a few landmarks and neighborhoods I wanted to checkout, but did not plan the visit in detail. As such, when it came down to destinations with ticketed entries, I had to skip most of them, since they did not have day-of tickets left for sale. Fortunately, I was able to walk around most of the city and it was generally a good time.

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global

Goodbye, Old Chang Kee

Well. I’m on a flight out of the UK right now. I’m going from London to Iceland, and then heading back home to Denver for a couple weeks.

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global

Castle to E4, Checkmate

(Yes, I know they’re called rooks, but I needed a pun) Hiya lads and lasses! I did my final wee bit of Scotland exploration this week, which is to say, I finally did the one touristy thing I’d been avoiding doing for all too long. I went to Edinburgh Castle. AND I went INSIDE Edinburgh Castle.

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global

#1

It was a farewell dinner today. The beginning of the end. Crazy to think in less than a week I’ll be back in Denver and this entire country hopping adventure will be completely over.

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global

Drizzles in Durham

There, and back again. A Caltech student’s tale.

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global

From Cold into Colder

It is COLD here. I know I’ve said that before but hOh my goodness I almost froze to death on Saturday. Of course, this wasn’t helped by how I almost froze to death Friday night as well. But that was by personal choice. So, Friday, night before a fencing tournament (as it always is) I decided to do something rather bone-headed and so I found myself at the ice-skating rink for disco night. Ice-skating has long been a tradition of mine, and one that I skipped during last school year. I’m not a pro or anything, but I don’t fall over anymore, and I can somewhat skate backwards, and that’s usually good enough for any ice rink in California.

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global

Thankful for Singapore Society

I killed today. Yes, I killed Thanksgiving dinner, but more than that, this was the first time that I’d ever prepared live seafood.

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global

Cold, Wet, And Happy

Well uh, good evening from a cold and rainy Scotland. I spent the whole of today in beautiful St. Andrew’s Scotland. Funny, I know. I’m Andrew. In St. Andrew’s. And even funnier, it was my mother who told me I had to go to check the place out.

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global

Christmas In… November?

Cue bells, jolly music, and large men in red tracksuits It’s Christmas in Edinburgh! Take that with a grain of salt; I personally don’t believe that the holiday season starts until after Thanksgiving, regardless of what holiday (if you celebrate a holiday) in December. But the Edinburgh Christmas market did start last week, and so I had to go and visit. I joined along on a Singapore society trip but split off from them a bit early because my and I hadn’t had dinner before coming, so we had to go hunt that down.

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global

A Fusillade of Question Marks (Belfast Part 2)

One of my favorite Northern Irish poets, Ciaran Carson, passed away last month, and this second part of the trip, this post title, and my Belfast exploration was completely inspired by him. Prior to taking Irish literature last year, I’d never really considered going to Ireland at all, much less that in the span of a month and a half I would be in both Belfast and in Dublin. And now, a full year later, I’ve been to both and am still floating the possibility of a trip to Galway. Crazy how life changes like that.

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global

I Lava Northern Ireland (Belfast Part 1)

Well good morning there! Today I’m writing about what I did last weekend (as per usual). And what I did… was go to Ireland! Again! Except this was a little different than the last trip as we went to Northern island, specifically Belfast and the surrounding area. Our main reason for doing this was to go and visit the Giant’s Causeway (or, at least my main reason), an exceedingly unique geological feature North of Belfast, where cooling lava bends cracked, forming what is now a series of beautiful angular columns, most of which are heptagonal or hexagonal in shape. To do this though, we ended up on a bus tour (as this was significantly easier than renting a car for the weekend) and made a few other stops as well. These included the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, a traditionally dodgy bridge built for salmon fishing, that, since restrictions on salmon fishing had been implemented had been taken over by the national trust and made into a (somewhat disappointing) short bridge to a small island. The surrounding area was beautiful though. We also stopped at a couple of castles and a few other locations, but honestly most of them weren’t all too noteworthy, so enjoy this picture of a sheep that was at one of the stops.

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global

A Scone, on a Stone, in Scone

G’day mates! Today I am writing from Edinburgh, but I just go back from Perth! Yep, that’s right: flights to Australia were reaaaally cheap this weekend so we just couldn’t resist a trip down under! It was great! We saw a koala, had a Tim Tam Slam, and… yeah… just kidding. We went to Perth, Scotland, haha.

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global

Mont St Michel

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global

Typhoon Season

After the rainy season in Japan comes summer. And with summer comes the typhoon season. Typhoons (or as we call them, hurricanes) are common in this part of the pacific. They will often hit the coast and Japan has frequent typhoon warnings, especially Kyushu, Shikoku, and western Honshu, the main island. Okinawa, which is farther south and west, has even more trouble. These typhoons are often downgraded before hitting the coast, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any devastation. The high winds and heavy rains mean that mudslides and flooding rivers are fairly common with the advent of each typhoon.The most recent typhoon, Krosa, was downgraded to a Severe Tropical Storm before hitting Japan. But it still went right through Hiroshima, with winds strong enough for Japan Rail to stop Shinkansen service in JR West (everything to the West of Osaka). Boats and ferries to smaller islands off the coast of Honshu were also cancelled that Thursday. I know because I was originally planning to take one! Even if they happen often, they’re still dangerous. It’s concerning that one can get used to hearing about typhoons every other week. Now, I almost expect them to come up on the news.

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global

The City That Never Sleeps

Last weekend, another Techer and I drove down to New York City to spend a weekend visiting friends, seeing the sights, and eating food of course. Being that I am originally from the Midwest and go to school on the west coast, this is my first time really seeing the east coast and my first trip to New York City. We met up and stayed with a recent Caltech alum who generously let us sleep on her couch for the weekend. We arrived pretty late Friday night and just took the night to enjoy some Thai food and relax before a full day on Saturday.

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global

A Real Live MUMMY

So far in Boston I have visited two different art museums, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). Although the museums were fairly close to each other, I did visit on different days. Both are very accessible from the green line, which was super convenient considering how blistering hot Boston has been lately. Also, something I learned recently is that MIT students get into both art museums for free by just showing their ID, so of course I showed my very much temporary and very much not a student MIT ID and saved some money.

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global

Summer Festivals

Summer in Japan is the season of festivals (matsuri) and fireworks (hanabi). Right now I’ll talk about the festivals that go on all around Japan. They take place for many different reasons and celebrate many different things. The pictures you see are from a festival in Otaru, Hokkaido called the Ushio Matsuri. This is the tide festival that they hold to thank the ocean for the bountiful year and pray for the growth and protection of the city and its citizens. Matsuri usually last a few days and come with a parade of some sort (and occasionally fireworks at night). The participants in the parade vary by the festival. Because this was a tide festival, those in the parade dance to Ushio Ondo, and taiko drums feature prominently. Other Buddhist festivals include shrines (called mikoshi) that are carried in a procession by participants, while still other matsuris have dances such as the Bon Odori.These festivals take place all over Japan, and I can assure you that one will take place somewhere almost every week or weekend! There is a ton of variety and so much history behind each one. I think that this is one of the most unique things about Japan, and something that you would be hard pressed to find in any other country. I am trying to see as many as possible while I’m here, in order to get the full experience of Japanese culture!

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global

Trip to Enoshima

Between Kamakura and Fujisawa of Kanagawa prefecture is a tiny Island called Enoshima. It is part of a long stretch of the coast known as a beautiful summer vacation spot, especially for the beaches and the view of Mt Fuji on a clear day. That stretch of coast especially attractive in the hot summer for the cooler ocean temperatures, even though it’s bloody humid - because honestly, so is the rest of Japan. As you come from Kamakura, either by foot or using the train, there are a lot of old temples that you can tour. Kamakura is known for the Daibutsu (literally big budda) and the numerous temple gardens. As it’s summer right now, the flowers are in full bloom, and are a must-see!Enoshima is known for the great views of the ocean that you can get from the top of the “candle” on the island, as well as the complex of caves that is said to have been the places where multiple monks reached enlightenment. Another thing it’s known for are the tiny, almost-translucent fish called shirasu. It’s somewhat related to anchovies, and is traditionally eaten raw like sushi. However the restaurant I went to had options to have it boiled or fried like tempura as well. Although I did try it (and liked it!) the taste and texture is not for everyone. I can always say that I’ve tried it now though!

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global

A Peek at Yokohama

I’ve been living in Yokohama while in Japan, a city I’ve never actually been to despite its proximity to Tokyo (a place I’ve been a fair number of times). Because it’s by the bay, it has beautiful views of the sea. I’m also super lucky, as I am living only a kilometer from the famous island Minato Mirai, which is a premier tourist destination. On my brief walks around, I have really enjoyed being so close to the water. When you hear the rumble of the waves as they rush into the side of the pier, it has a calming effect that I don’t believe anyone can deny. That, coupled with the vast views of the harbor, the bridge, and the ships as they float by, makes for a wonderful experience.

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global

Rain, rain, go away... jk please stay

Ever heard of the rainy season? I have heard that it’s very common in certain parts of the world. However, I lived in America all my life, so I never had the chance to see or experience it for myself. Until now at least! Japan has this rainy season, which they call Tsuyu (梅雨) as I learned. I really had no idea when it was supposed to happen, but I arrived right in the middle of it! It lasts from after spring, right around May/June until midway through July.So far, it’s been characterized by cloudy skies every day. There’s been light rain at least once a week as well, sometimes accompanied by some pretty strong winds. I’ve already broken one umbrella, and I hope the count doesn’t go up! Still the temperature is not too bad, around 70 or 80 Fahrenheit and 24-28 Celsius. It’s much preferable to the actual summer temperatures. I’ve been told it can get up to 35 Celsius - which I have been too scared to look up so far, but I’m sure it won’t be pleasant when I actually have to experience it in August!

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global

A Must Sea Experience

Ahoy! I just went to visit the New England Aquarium and of my Boston adventures thus far, it is definitely a highlight! Would highly recommend to anyone in the region or visiting the region, although it was kind of expensive (around $30 for a day pass). The aquarium sits right on the edge of the bay near Boston’s north end and was fairly easy to get to using the redline. Getting back however was NOT fun because while I had been walking around inside the museum, a classic northeastern downpour began outside. I’m talking a heavy, steady downpour that lasted for hours and left puddles the size of small ponds! Just a word of advice to anyone planning touristy day trips: always check the weather and be prepared.

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global research

Change of Scenery

Hello all! My name is Lexy LeMar. I’m a rising junior studying chemical engineering in the environmental track (ChE ESE for short). I am currently writing to you from Boston, Massachusetts where I am doing research this summer through Caltech’s SURF program. For those of you who are unfamiliar with SURF, it is a ten week research program over the summer that allows students to conduct research in a lab on campus, at the Jet Propulsion Lab, or in any other institute research lab in the world! Last summer, I did a SURF in the Seinfeld group on campus, studying volatile organic compounds and characterizing the fluid dynamics of the Caltech photochemical oxidation flow tube reactor. I had a really great experience both in the lab and going on weekend adventures around the Los Angeles area; however, being on campus for such a long period of time made me realize how much I wanted a change of scenery.

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global

My Morning Commute

Japan is well known for its bullet train, the Shinkansen, but the country is very well connected through a lot of different train lines locally. It’s unbelievably useful in getting around (especially coming from LA, where one has to drive everywhere!) but it can also be super confusing if you don’t know exactly the direction you’re going in and what you have to take. For example, you can’t just know the train lines and the stations at which you will be getting on and off. At the very least, you should also know the terminus of the line in the direction that you’ll be going in. Ideally, you’ll also know if the train line offers express trains, and which stations those trains will stop at. This can also help in arriving at your destination quicker, because you’ll be able to take express trains as close to your station as possible.

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global

Ski Trip!

Every year, Page has their ski trip at the start of second term. We go to Mammoth Ski Resort, and spend Thursday or Friday night to Sunday morning there. Typically, we stay in the same few cabins every year, and since this is my 4th year on Page ski trip, I can recognize many of the rooms :P On the first day (Friday), I went skiing. It was a beautiful sunny day, so it was nice and warm with my ski gear on! I was initially with two more advanced skiiers, so we started with some hard blues and moved to blacks early in the day. This is a photo I took when I was too scared to go down the black, so I sat down and took a photo of the landscape instead. I eventually made it down (without falling!), but it was my second black ever, so I was pretty scared. After that, I resolved to go with a more chill ski group after lunch and just do some blues before finishing up for the day.

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global

Coffee Shops of Seattle Part 1

Get ready for a whirlwind review of Seattle’s coffee shops! Seattle is full of coffee shops everywhere, so I’ve really only been to a few, but let me comment on and recommend some of the ones I’ve been to :) Café An’clairLocated in South Lake Union. I can’t believe I don’t have photos of this one! I often went to this place to get bulgogi sandwiches for lunch. They sell really cute, yummy pastries and have unique coffee syrup flavors like orchid. They also have a good Spanish latte, but I tended to get the orchid breve since who has orchid syrup?? The Spanish latte is also a bit too cinnamon-y. I didn’t realize they charge extra for breves in Seattle, but everywhere I went, a breve was more expensive than a latte. That’s too bad since I like breves so much more than lattes :( (By the way, a breve is basically a latte but made with half and half rather than whole milk). It’s a brightly-lit, cute space, and I really liked going to this place since it was <10 min walk from work! Evoke CoffeeLocated in South Lake Union, this coffee shop is super popular on Instagram with its but first, coffee sign. It’s a relatively quiet coffee shop, and its mascot is an adorable Bernese Mountain Dog puppy lying in the corner. Their coffee has a darker roast but is quite good.

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global

Journey Around San Francisco

The Bay Area is a ridiculously picturesque place, and few places can beat Sausalito. It’s a small town that has intense vacation vibes, with small shops, a cute Main Street, views of the bay and a lot of ritzy houses. No wonder it’s swarmed by tourists. Like San Francisco, a lot of the houses in Sausalito are built on hills, so you can definitely get a little workout just walking about.

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global

Starbucks Reserve Roastery

In Seattle, you can visit the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, where you can see coffee beans go from the unrefined bean to the roasted product to your cup! They also sell various coffee merchandise and brewing items, like kettles, v60s, and so on, along with the beans they produce. You can also buy pizza and dessert here along with your coffee!

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global

Three-Ingredient Peanut-Butter Cookies

I’m usually suspicious of recipes with click-bait titles like this one. “Simple” and “easy” and “N-ingredient” baked goods have been around longer than click-bait itself, masquerading as genuine homemade desserts in my grandmother’s cookbooks and on Betty Crocker’s website today. Consisting of ingredients as authentically American as cake mix + pudding + oreos + jello + whipped cream, these recipes seem like they’d be as shockingly sweet as they are simple.

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Spotlight


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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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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