Hi everyone. I’m JD, a rising sophomore studying Computer Science. Vansh and I along with 5 over Caltech students had the amazing opportunity to travel to India and participate in the 10 day cultural immersion program at IIT Gandhinagar. I will pick up where Vansh left off.
For breakfast and lunch we mostly ate at the canteen at IIT. I’m a vegetarian and I really like Indian food, so for me I loved the food here which was simple yet delicious and fulfilling. For breakfast we had idli (lentil and rice cake) with some kind of masala sauce along with buttered and jammed toast and boiled eggs. Vansh’s plate is pictured below.
The program didn’t officially start until tomorrow so we spent the rest of the day touring the campus and city. Two very friendly students, Parthvi and Shrankla were responsible for showing us around so they took us to the Swaminaryan Akshardham temple pictured below. The Hindu temple mostly told the story of Swaminaryan, a central figure in theSwaminarayan faith. Followers believe Swaminaryan is the manifestation of Narayana who descended in human form to destroy evil.The temple had elaborate exhibitions including walk through dioramas, an IMAX theatre, and a laser light show. It felt a little too commercialized and extravagant for a temple but it was still impressive nonetheless.
For dinner, Parthvi and Shrankla took us to a South Indian restaurant famous for dosas, a fermented crepe made from rice batter and black lentils. A very large dosa is pictured below.
That’s all for now. Vansh will talk about the first official day of the program.
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.