Hi all! Long time no see again. Let’s just go through the laundry list of all the fun things I’ve been up to, then I’ll tell you a bit more about my life here at the good ol’ California Institute of Technology.
First, a friend heard about some DineLA deal, so we decided to pick one of the available restaurants which was this Korean place, and check it out. It was supposed to be relatively discounted fine dining, so we were all pretty excited to see what it was all about, as well as leave campus and all.
It was a pretty fun experience, leaving campus and all, but the food itself was a bit…unconventional. For instance, please behold a $14 dessert:
They say you get what you pay for, but I’m quite certain I’ve stumbled across yet another exception! I guess you’re paying in part for the decor as well as the Koreatown experience.
The funny part of the story starts here. I had a chamber concert immediately after the dinner, but I did some rough calculations and figured I could make it so I decided to go to the dinner. We first left late, then the dinner took longer than expected, then I had some difficulties with the Uber driver, but it ended up that I got on my ride home from Koreatown at 7:50PM when the concert started at 8PM!! Moreover, I was the third group to play, and I had no idea whether I would be able to get back by whenever those two groups would finish. Finally, I hadn’t yet changed.
The ensuing series of events could actually have made an action movie. I hopped off the Uber at 8:17, sprinted upstairs, was out the door again by something like 8:19 if not 8:20 (impressive since I was changing into a suit!), biked across to the concert hall, sprinted to the warmup room backstage to hear that the group before me was wrapping up. Having arrived before the start of my program, I decided to use the restroom like my bladder had been planning for the past hour, and heard applause right as I left the restroom, and onto the stage I went. My margin of error was no more than 90 seconds, yet I made it on stage. Honestly, I had one of the best performances relative to my preparedness of my performing life, probably because I was still panicking about the time to be nervous about performing! The aftermath, after 10 minutes of the third movement of the Mozart Kegelstatt trio:
Finally, on the next day, I had the privilege of hearing Yefim Bronfman play the Beethoven 1st piano concerto along with the LA Phil’s rendition of Mahler’s first symphony. It was great, despite it being a rainy day, and there were a few cute moments (like the pianist intentionally playing the final bombastic cadence of the first movement at a whisper, drawing laughter). I definitely enjoyed yet another concert at the LA Phil and will be on the lookout for even more concerts both to listen to and to write to you guys about!
That’s all for this post! I’m a bit backlogged on things to say, so I’ll be coming out with a few in quick succession here, bear with me :)
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.