It finally happened: the school year ended! It came really fast but it sure happened! Last Friday was the end of Finals Week for all non-seniors (because the Seniors finished their work the week before) and that same day was also the Graduation Ceremony. I stayed for part of the ceremony and it was so touching! Being there encouraged me once again to keep working harder and harder so that I may be very satisfied with how I’ve spent my time here when I’m graduating.
So, what is there to do once a Caltech school year is over? Relax? Soak in some sun? Spend some lazy afternoons being bored out of your mind? Sure, you can relax about finishing sets and exams on time and sure you can enjoy the sun as the weather keeps getting hotter and hotter, but you definitely can’t spend days being bored out of your mind (unless you try really hard). First, you have to completely move out of your current room by Saturday noon. Next, if you’re staying on campus you have to move into your new room. This is not so easy. The way I set up my old room, it really didn’t seem like I had a lot of things. However, as I started moving things to my new room I realized that I have a ton of things! Once you’re moved in, since you’re staying on campus that implies that you are doing some sort of work here. This means that you get to start you work this week! For example, the SURF program starts tomorrow (wish us all luck, please!). Many of my friends are not staying here for the summer but none of them are just doing nothing. All of them either got internships, have nontrivial jobs, or are doing research at other labs. By the way, if you as High Schoolers have worked at a lab that you enjoyed, keep in mind that many Techers return their High School labs for the summer! (In other words, stay connected!) This year, to make things all the more time-rushed, their is the World Cup that is keeping everyone wired here.
So what are my plans for the summer besides work? First, I want to make my new room very comfortable by the start of the school year. Next, since we are off board during the summer, I plan to cook my own meals. Luckily my new room is right across from one of the three Page House kitchens! Also, I plan to explore the surroundings more, make it to the beach, visit some local museums that I haven’t had time to visit yet, go to dance classes, and prepare for next Term’s courses!
I still can’t quite believe that summer has finally come and my first Techer year is complete! It has been a great year and it taught me a lot. Definitely there was a huge transition that I had to get over when I got here but that will happen no matter what college you go to. I’ve enjoyed my classes and I’m only looking forward to more. I am still amazed at all the wonderful opportunities that are available here and that all one needs to do is to have enthusiasm! I’ve enjoyed trying out new things such as running and taking Cooking Basics and I’m really excited about doing research this summer! Also, I loved blogging here for the past two Terms. Writing these blogs was not only enjoyable but it also gave me the opportunity to reflect on how Caltech is going and how I’m doing. I hope that you found my blogs to be as helpful, entertaining, and fulfilling as last year’s blogs were to me.
Well, good luck with all the new and great things that you are about to start doing! If something blog-worthy comes up this summer, I’ll certainly write about it but in the meantime, farewell!
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.