This was our last weekend here at CERN, therefore we found it fitting to announce the beginning of the end with fireworks! Our house and the people from our team who live in the house down the street from us set up a potluck (kinda) and then set off some fireworks that we bought from the grocery store. It was a lot of fun sitting around, watching Dragon Ball Z in French, eating great food, talking about particle physics, and almost setting other houses on fire… a pretty typical evening. We actually lucked out that it was raining lightly so that we didn’t have to worry about actually starting a fire.
We didn’t actually know what any of the fireworks did so we kind of just lit them and stepped away. We only had like one or two go off in people hands and nobody was hurt. We ended with half of the fireworks left after one of the graduate students almost shot the big rocket into the neighbor’s window.
Disclaimer: The author of this blog does not promote the irresponsible use of fireworks and explosives. The events described in this blog were performed by highly trained professionals and should not be imitated at home.
Okay, so moving past the explosives… this weekend I just stayed in the area around Geneva. Saturday I decided to explore the lake since our rail passes cover the ferries as well. I took the train to Lausanne and then took the ferry to Evian-les-bains to see the town and drink the water straight from the source. The ferry ride itself was pretty awesome. The weather was sunny right after rain so the light on the lake was pretty awesome. When I was leaving from Lausanne there was also a party ship right next to my ferry. Sounds like a great idea, partying and cruising around the lake all day.
Evian was beautiful little town. Note too much to do but nice to walk around. I filled up my water bottle a few times from the spring sources. The water was nice and cold, straight from the glaciers.
After visiting Evian I took the train to Thonon-les-bains to see even more springs. While walking to the train station I saw the local lycee (the high school). Yeah, I was kind of jealous that the town uses a chateau as a high school.
Thonon was quite a bit larger than Evian and more of an actual city, though a small one. It was still very lush and scenic though.
Overall it was a fairly relaxing Saturday full of just strolling along the lake and taking the ferry between small towns. The ride from Thonon to Morges was awesome since it was a smaller ferry and turned out to be a speed boat. We were lifted halfway out of the water the entire time and crossed the lake in half the time it took to get to Evian from Lausanne.
So yeah, that was pretty much all of the excitement from my last weekend here. Now I’m already almost half way done with my last week and am freaking out about getting all of my data put together. I’ve started my paper and have 3 pages of text, + 91 pages for an appendix of plots. That’s not even all of it. D:
Hopefully all turns out well. It’s sad to see my time here come to an end but it’ll be nice to get to Paris and see my family for a few weeks before Romania.
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, Ruddock, and the Bechtel Residence. Each of the houses has its own unique culture, character, and traditions. I am a member of Ruddock House!
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.
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: