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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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Hello World

It is currently 1:21 in the morning and I am thrilled to be writing the first post of our new admissions blog, Caltech Fission. For those of you who didn’t follow the old blog, it’s nice to meet you. My name is Andrew and I’m a senior at Caltech studying geophysics and English literature.

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Reflections

After a week being back, I think it’s about time for some reflections on what it meant to be abroad, and what I’ve taken away from it. I’m really happy to be back, but it’s just been almost a culture shock of sorts being back in California, and back at my true home (for now, at least).

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LA Zoo Lights

There’s nothing more festive than beautiful holiday decor. Something that has gotten quite popular in recent years is light displays. Around Pasadena, the LA Zoo, LA Arboretum are a few venues that have elaborate holiday light displays. This past weekend, I went to check out the LA Zoo Lights. The general admission is $15 on weekdays and $20 on weekends, which is certainly not cheap, so if you do go, be sure to take a ton of photos.

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Anza Borrego Superbloom

This year, there was a superbloom in California because of all the rain we got from December to February. During spring break, three friends and I went to Anza-Borrego state park near San Diego to see the wildflowers. It’s about a 2 hour drive away from Caltech, and on the way, we saw flowers dotting the hills along the highway. Some hills were orange from all the California Poppies, while others were yellow and purple.

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Life’s Looking Pretty Beachy

Welcome to part 2 of “Chandrew has a friend in town and is procrastinating his schoolwork by hanging out with him”! Also known as “It’s a Sunday so we went to the beach”. We specifically went to my old favorite beach – the place I went the first time I came to Los Angeles: Santa Monica! After a quick lunch in the morning of In-N-Out (gotta get that 3x3 and animal style fries every day), we took the trek out to the beach for some fun in the sun.

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Griffith Adventure Land

Greetings from La La Land! Actually, pretty much the top of La La Land. No, I didn’t make a trip out to Mt. Baldy; I did that last year and I suffered enough on that hike!

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Watts the Matter?

Fasten your seatbelts, attach your climbing harness to your jetpack, it’s time for FIELD TRIP 2019 EDITION! But Andrew, you say, you aren’t in any geology classes this term. And you’re right. This was something special. Something unique. Something just odd enough to be beautiful: an English field trip.

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Brunch at Zinc Cafe & Market

For R’s birthday, we went to get brunch at Zinc Cafe & Market in the LA Arts District. We had originally planned to go to BluJam Cafe in downtown LA, but there was unexpectedly a two hour wait because of the LA Marathon the next day! Thankfully we stumbled upon this place on Yelp and switched plans.

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LA Art Book Fair

Printed Matter recently hosted an LA Art Book Fair at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Little Tokyo. The fair focuses on the distribution of artists’ books, and it is free to attend. Inside, there are hundreds of booths, each with its unique kind of merchandise, including books, zines, posters, monographs, and more.

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Hiking the Hollywood Sign

Ever wanted to see the famous Hollywood sign up close? Well you can! There are several hikes that lead up to the Hollywood sign in the Santa Monica Mountains, ranging from 3 to 7 miles long. Some of the hikes start at Griffith Observatory, while others start in other parts of Griffith Park.

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Brunch and Purple Yam Tiramisu

Last weekend, I went to get brunch with my friends. We went to Bird’s Nest Cafe near USC, which serves pancakes, tacos, sandwiches, omelettes, and more. I got the Sunrise Tacos pictured below, and I thought they were delicious. They usually come with avocados which would probably make them super appealing for most people, but unfortunately I’m allergic to avocados :( I would recommend coming to this place, since it’s really cute, not expensive, and quick!

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Renegrade Craft Fair Seattle

Time for Renegade Craft Fair #3! I’ve been to the one in SF and the one in LA, so I was excited to hear that the fair was coming to Seattle for a weekend. Like the SF fair, it was held in an old warehouse, although this fair was much smaller than the one in SF (and about the same size as the one in LA).

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Feeding the Addiction

It’s not a trip to the Bay Area without a trip to Din Tai Fung. I know that I have one in LA, but who can resist going to one of the best chains ever. DTF in the Bay Area is in the Santa Clara mall, which is much nearer to San Jose than San Francisco. The mall itself is a Westfield (interestingly, the same brand as the one in Arcadia) and is huge, with both fast fashion and high-end brands such a Gucci and Prada there. I went with my intern friends who also love Din Tai Fung.

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Newport Beach Whale Watching

Just a 2 hour drive away from Caltech is the sleepy town of Newport Beach, where you can go whale watching for $15-20! It’s a really cute and quiet town, with a nice calm vibe. It was my first time going whale watching since I was a kid, so I was pretty excited.

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Sequoia National Park

During a random weekend in 3rd term, my boyfriend and I visited Sequoia National Park. It’s a 4 hour drive north, but it’s totally worth it. It was beautiful!

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Disneyland Pixar Fest

During the last weeks of school, I went to Disneyland! Right now, Disneyland is holding Pixar Fest, where they have a Pixar themed parade and special Pixar merchandise. I hadn’t been there for several years, so I was really excited to go! It was a weekday, so the lines weren’t too long. We also used our Fastpasses effectively, so we only really had to wait in line once :) The costumes for the parade were all really well designed! I especially liked the Up costumes :)

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Trip to San Diego

During 3rd term, Page hosts a beach trip to Carlsbad, which is about 2 hours south of Caltech and 30 minutes north of San Diego. Everyone stays in a huge beach house, and we go to the beach during the day. Over the same weekend, my boyfriend and I visited San Diego since I’d never been! San Diego has amazing tacos (and amazing Mexican food in general). I ate so many fish tacos over that weekend, and they were all delicious. I keep thinking about them now that I’ve come back to Pasadena :P

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Hiking Temescal Canyon Trail

Temescal Canyon lies in the Santa Monica Mountains, right next to the beach and about an hour away from Caltech. The trail itself is a 3 mile loop, with 860 ft elevation gain. After climbing to the top, we could see the Pacific ocean!

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Beachin’ around

While I don’t always enjoy the beach, I had a ton of fun going with friends. The first evening, we just enjoyed the views offered by the sunset (and took a ton of photos in the meantime). However, the second day was really when the majority of people had arrived to enjoy playing at the beach.

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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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Acapalooza

Acapalooza, the final a cappella concert of the year, happened recently. The event is free for everyone, and four groups performed: Out of Context, the Keytones, the Pipettes, and Fluid Dynamics. Since it’s the last concert of the year, each senior in each group usually gets a solo. As usual, all the groups performing makes for an amazing show. Below are some photos of my friends performing their solos :) To join these a cappella groups, auditions are at the start of the year, and everyone is really welcoming. Some (or maybe all) of the groups also have retreats, where they go off campus to practice and have fun. It’s a great opportunity for those who are interested – last year, the Pipettes performed at Disneyland!

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Off to the Renaissance Faire!

This particular Renaissance Faire is held every year at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area. It’s actually called the Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire - because that’s what it is. It was started in 1963, and was moved around the Los Angeles Area a few times before settling in their current spot. They now have 200,000 people come to visit every year - and they only open for 7 weekends out of the year. It’s pretty amazing.

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Hiking in Almaden Quicksilver County Park

I love going hiking, and I recently discovered Almaden Quicksilver County Park when I went home this past break. I came here with a high school friend, and we hiked for a few hours. I like this park because there are both wider routes and smaller, shaded ones that go through the forest! We also came across a reservoir with a lot of dried mud next to it, and some quails :)

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Birthday Celebrations

Most of us got various schnitzels for the main, and my boyfriend and I also got a pretzel and the weisswurst to share. It was my first time having the white sausage, and I thought it was pretty good :) I haven’t had the real thing in Germany though, so I can’t say if it was authentic or not.

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Valentine's Day Celebrations

On Valentine’s Day, my boyfriend and I started off the day by making scrambled eggs on toast. I love toast and almost every variation on toast! I feel pretty silly saying that, but it’s true.

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Ice Cream Around LA Part 2

An overview of the ice cream places around LA, continued :) Salt & Straw Salt & Straw is in the Arts District in LA, and I believe their salty flavors are what they are famous for. I haven’t been there in a while, since I think their ice cream doesn’t really suit my taste. I once had their strawberry ice cream with smorgasbord coffee ice cream, which was a very good combination, but the second time I went, they didn’t really have any flavors I liked. I know a couple people who think Salt & Straw is the best ice cream place in LA, so it’s definitely worth giving a shot.

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Artisanal Donuts

In DTLA, there’s a cute shop called Birdies LA that sells donuts! Instead of the typical flavors, they have dark chocolate, cinnamon toast crunch, strawberry and vanilla, and more. They even have a donut that is decorated like a penguin, and they were also featured on Buzzfeed for selling a $100 donut that’s covered in gold flakes.

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Santa Anita Horse Races

Apparently Page house used to go to the horse races at the Santa Anita Race Track every year, and this year we decided to bring it back as a house event. On President’s Day, we all went to the horse races, where there were $2 hot dogs. It was pretty fun to watch the races and we even bet a bit (we won one bet, but lost the other so it ended up almost even). The 4th race of the day was even named after us!

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Poppy + Rose

Last weekend, I went to get brunch in downtown LA at Poppy + Rose, which is right next to the flower market district. There were stalls selling various foods, orange juice, and flowers, along with a lot of flower shops on the street.

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Ice Cream Around LA Part 1

Since I’ve come to college, I’ve probably consumed more ice cream than I have in the rest of my life. I feel like I have ice cream nearly every weekend now…It’s definitely not a healthy habit, but it’s so nice to get ice cream :) Here’s a short, 2-part overview of the ice cream shops I’ve visited around LA, in order of distance from campus: Afters, Bengees, and Baskin Robbins: Afters is very close to campus, on Chester and Allen, and features crazy flavors like milk tea and lavender. The ice cream is very pigmented, and they also have this blue colored ice cream in a glazed bun…which I haven’t tried, but it looks very sweet. Bengees is another ice cream place close to campus, near Lake Ave, but I haven’t been there. I think the general consensus is that Bengees has more classic ice cream flavors and is better than Afters. There’s also a Baskin Robbins on Lake! These ice cream places are all a 10 minute walk away from campus.

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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.

By