Sorry I’ve been so M.I.A. for the last few weeks! Midterms hit and then suddenly it’s been a month without blogging! :(
So that time of year has rolled around, when everyone’s on the edge of their seats for that mysterious senior tradition to roll around…
In case you don’t know, Ditch Day is the day when the seniors run around the house at 7:45AM, banging on the doors and screaming, “WAKE UP!!!!” They’ve spent all of third term creating these elaborate “stacks,” which is the word for “puzzle/scavenger hunt/smashing things/adventure.” After everyone is up and out of bed, you sign up for one of about five or six different stacks and the fun begins! Traditionally, when you ask a senior when Ditch Day is, they’ll reply, “It’s tomorrow! Go to bed!” So no one really knows when it’s gonna be :)
*sorry some pictures are sideways… I could NOT get some of them to rotate correctly!
This was the stack I signed up for!!
Even though I’ve never seen or read The Hunger Games, I followed along with the reenactment pretty well. Two alums, Kyle Verdone(who was a blogger last year!) and Pallavi Gunalan played Seneca Crane and Effie Trinket. It was hilarious!!
Each of the “Districts” had colored bandanas that we got to decorate and wear however we wanted. Here’s me and my partner Katherine for District 3!
Our stack was “70% Brute Force, and 30% Finesse.” Meaning, 70% smashing things (like this printer below) and 30% solving cool puzzles.
This is a stack from another House. It was right next to ours and looked really cool :)
Solving more puzzles! This is a KenKen puzzle, which is similar to sudoku but with more math!
At lunchtime, all the undergrads went to have a barbecue :)
Unfortunately I didn’t take any more pictures after that point. After lunch, we drove to a super secret location and had no idea where we were going. Some seniors took us to a field where we began the finale of The Hunger Games by playing a super intense game of flag football! We each had two “lives” (flags) and got to chase each other around and find clues that would help us win. After all that, a lot of people went to the beach to have another barbecue for dinner (I stayed behind to nap). At the end of the day, it was an excellent stack and a fantastic Ditch Day!
This summer I had the incredible opportunity to do a 10-week internship at Gilead Sciences in Foster City, CA. For those unfamiliar, Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a research-based biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative medicines.
With 45 Nobel Laureates on its Faculty Roster, it’s not surprising that research is an integral part of the Caltech undergraduate experience. One of the programs that promotes such research is the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). There is no minimum knowledge or experience required to participate in a Caltech SURF. In fact, students can participate in a SURF as soon as the summer after their freshman year. It is not difficult to get a SURF. All you need to do is find a mentor who is working in an area of research that interests you and willing to mentor you through a research project. The mentor can work in a Caltech lab, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), or at another participating institution. Once you find a mentor, you work together to write a project proposal that you later send to the SURF office for review and approval. About 98% of the SURF proposals get approved. This fellowship is a great way to explore various fields of research and obtain real, hands-on experience where you get to apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve learned in class. Not only do you get to work and learn alongside your mentor, but you also get compensated for your time. The length of the SURF is ten weeks, and it starts at the beginning of the summer. However, it is not uncommon for many students at Caltech to continue their research project throughout the academic school year.
Like many students at Caltech, I suffer from a slight boba addiction, where side effects may include over caffeination, minor sugar highs, and of course, a large toll on one’s wallet. This addiction is not helped by the fact that there are at least three boba shops within walking distance of campus. So, after an entire term’s worth of boba runs, I came back from winter break with a new year’s epiphany: it was time to get a job. Rather than try to curb my addiction, I decided to find a way to subsidize it.
Research at Caltech looks different for every student, and can often vary term by term. As a chemistry major, my course requirements are on the lighter side for a Caltech major, and many chemistry majors take advantage of the lighter course load to join research groups. This can be whenever the student wants, but many people join labs during their freshman or sophomore years. Some may work in one lab only, and some may switch between labs during the course of their undergraduate studies, depending on if their interests change.