One of the nice things about living in SoCal is that basically everything you’d want to do is going on somewhere in LA.
As you might be able to guess, board games are quite popular at Caltech. The South Hovse Basement has a board game library, and many of the houses have their own copies of some games. For instance, my hovse, Dabney, has full copies of Dominion, Race for the Galaxy, Game of Throne, and Waterdeep among others. In general, many Techers tend to enjoy games with lots of strategy and economic games with quirky themes so we have a wide collection of those.
But sometimes my boyfriend and I want to challenge non-Caltech students to various games, and one of the nice things about living in this area is that basically everything you’d want to do is going on somewhere in Los Angeles. We go to a MeetUp for gay board gamers that meets once a month at various places around LA (https://www.meetup.com/Gay-Board-Gaymers/). I’ve been to around seven events so far, and he tries to make it to every event. Occasionally we will run into other techers or JPLers (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab that has close ties with Caltech) and a couple of times we’ve ended up playing Dixit against a Caltech professor.
This meetup has become popular enough to spawn a spinoff board games coffee shop with a general LGBT bent, Game Haus Café: https://www.gamehauscafe.com/.
Yes, those are multiple bookshelves just filled with board games.
Generally, it serves as a great way to meet interesting like-minded gaymers and have fun for an afternoon.
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.
SURF, short for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, is a quintessential experience for any Caltech student. It is a widely accessible research fellowship for Caltech students that funds your proposed research for one summer term. While many of my classmates did their first SURF the summer after their freshman year, I sent in my first application to the program as a sophomore. As a CS major, I was trying to chase meaningful work that intersected computation with the field of neuroscience. I ended up doing a SURF at the Stanford School of Medicine that first year, studying hand gestures in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Since then, I’ve been working in the research space of applying computational analyses to ASD.
This summer, from the confines of my Brooklyn apartment, you could find me typing away on a tiny 13-inch laptop screen. At times I was looking for answers on countless Stack Exchange pages, editing a Jupyter notebook, or making blood flow measurements on a software called Arterys. This was my 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURF) experience.
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.