So if you’ve been reading the blogs for a while, you’ll know that Jennifer went to Disneyland during Thanksgiving. You also may have read that I took public transportation to Disneyland on the last day of spring term last year. So this post may make you think that Techers live in Disneyland. Unfortunately (or fortunately), that’s not true. However, when you mention that the place of many people’s childhood dreams is only a 45 or so minute drive away from their college, they get excited.
Basically, when I started considering Caltech, I only knew about it as a really good tech school in California. I did some quick research and found out it was in Pasadena. The only thing I knew about Pasadena was the Rose Bowl and Rose Parade (looking back, I was sort of clueless in high school). A few years later, I decided to come here and my parents promised themselves that before I graduated, they would come out to see the Rose Parade (one of my mom’s dreams). So that’s what this trip was all about. At the same time, it’s sort of pointless to fly across the country for one day, so we made plans to go to Disneyland for 3 days beforehand and then see the Rose Parade! I’ll talk about the Rose Parade in my next post.
We arrived in LA early in the morning and quickly drove to Caltech so I could drop stuff off and pick up some of my books for the coming term that had arrived. We quickly headed down to Anaheim (after stopping at Mediterranean Cafe on Lake Ave for lamb kabob pitas… YUM) and checked into our hotel, which is across the street from Disney. We bought tickets and headed right over. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember exactly what order we did the rides, but in our 3 days, we covered all the important ones, like Space Mountain, California Screamin’, and Pirates of the Caribbean. So much fun :D.
However, going over winter break is a mixed blessing. Disney put together some really cool attractions that were holiday themed. For example, typically, I really cannot stand the ride “It’s a Small World”. The ride is basically a boat that takes you around a bunch of animatronics who are singing the song “It’s a Small World” at you for about 5 minutes. The first time you ever go on it, it’s okay, but after that, it’s just annoying. For the winter season, Disney intermixes “Small World” with “Jingle Bells” and changes it to a holiday theme. They also decorate the building beautifully!
SURF, short for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, is a quintessential experience for any Caltech student. It is a widely accessible research fellowship for Caltech students that funds your proposed research for one summer term. While many of my classmates did their first SURF the summer after their freshman year, I sent in my first application to the program as a sophomore. As a CS major, I was trying to chase meaningful work that intersected computation with the field of neuroscience. I ended up doing a SURF at the Stanford School of Medicine that first year, studying hand gestures in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Since then, I’ve been working in the research space of applying computational analyses to ASD.
This summer, from the confines of my Brooklyn apartment, you could find me typing away on a tiny 13-inch laptop screen. At times I was looking for answers on countless Stack Exchange pages, editing a Jupyter notebook, or making blood flow measurements on a software called Arterys. This was my 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURF) experience.
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.