It’s always been on my bucket list to jump out of a plane. I’ve gone hiking and submitted mountains before, but I’ve always wanted to go higher and see more. So, last weekend, when one of my friends asked around for an adventurous few to go skydiving with him, I put my hand up and decided to go.
We decided to go south of Caltech near Lake Elsinore, CA. Though in the middle of the desert, the area has a giant lake, a perfect landmark to observe from 12,000 ft in the air.
When we got there, we hopped out of our cars, watched a brief safety video, signed our lives away, and were ready to go on a tandem skydive. Tandem skydives are when you are strapped to another (more experienced) staff member. They help control the jump and parachute so you are more safe.
After a brief wait, we met up with our tandem guides and boarded a small plane. Even though I am 5 ft, I had to basically crouch while sitting in order to fit. The roar of the propellors masked my excited cheers. When we got to what seemed like 100 miles off the ground, the pilot shouted saying we were halfway to our final height. I’ve never been afraid of heights, but in that moment I could feel my stomach drop.
My guide counted to three, and we jumped. I couldn’t back out then. As I fell through the air, the world looked more like a painting than a reality. The lake looked brushed with blue, the sand spilled from a bottle. The people on the ground so microscopic I couldn’t even see them. The wind was nearly peeling my skin off.
All of a sudden, it stopped. The parachute was engaged and we began floating through the air slowly. I felt like a bird. The guide gave me a chance to even control where we were going! It was a little dizzying, but so much fun! Soon, the microbe-people became ant-people who became human-people as I floated my way closer to the ground. When I landed, I slid across a grassy field.
Always not quite organized, my desk is a constant, yet subtle reminder of why I ultimately chose Caltech: the people. (sigh… I bet you haven’t heard that one before!). It’s no secret that Caltech has a small undergraduate population but, in my experience, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find your people, it means you’ll be able to find them faster!
With the third term fast approaching and the status of COVID on campus pushing all major events to the spring quarter, students of the houses of Caltech were excited. The reason? Interhouse season had arrived. Interhouses, a longstanding tradition of the California Institute of Technology, are summarized as parties hosted by each respective house, usually with a theme, in which the entire undergraduate population is invited to attend. As every undergraduate house of Caltech has its own personality and characteristics, these interhouses too have their own flair depending on the house who hosts them.
Let’s face it: the US loves being just a little different from everyone else. The obvious example? Units of measurement. As an international student from Canada, even I have no clue what’s going on half the time when my friends talk to me and use these weird nonsensical units. And I’ve literally lived on the border between Canada and the States for all my life. After a year here, I’ve finally got a sense of how the two systems of measurement compare and how you can more easily get your bearings with these weird units.
About a dozen frosh sit and stand in a semicircle around a whiteboard. Various Lloyd-themed interhouse names sit on a list awaiting their fate. One by one, possibilities are discussed and voted on, until four remain.