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Here’s to Caltech!

Life is full of surprises and Caltech can sure convince you of this fact if you are having any doubts. Ten years ago, I spent the last night of the 20th century on the stage of San Francisco Ballet Opera House participating in the company’s production of the Nutcracker. At that time I would never have thought that I would be celebrating the coming of 2010 in the audience of San Francisco Symphony thinking mostly about my upcoming second term at Caltech.

Last term I took a course called Physics 10. We met once a week to hear a Caltech faculty member speaking about his or her Physics research. The idea of this is to expose us to the work being done in modern Physics, to spark our interest and to give us an idea of what to expect from various Caltech laboratories. I enjoyed this course but one lecture really stood out for me. The research of this Professor seemed especially interesting and I got the idea to try to have a SURF with him next summer.If you haven’t heard of SURF before, it stands for "Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship", which is a very popular thing for Techers to do over the summer. Undergraduates are highly encouraged to join a lab for ten weeks (on or off campus, or even in another country!) and get involved in research. This program, is one of the things that really makes Caltech so special. SURF allows students to not worry about problem sets and exams but rather apply what they’ve been learning all year to real investigations. Well, over break I started worrying about getting a SURF for the next summer and I remembered this particular Physics 10 lecture, so once second term began, I asked that Professor for a tour around his laboratory. This tour convinced me even more that I’d love to do a SURF there so a few days later I asked if a SURF project would be offered in this lab. The professor discussed a project with me, introduced me to his graduate students and showed me around the lab a little more. Well, pretty soon I became a happy Frosh with a promised SURF project!

The contents of the Lab Kit.

Last week I also had a great night in my Cooking Basics class. I made all the chicken for my team but by the end of the night the table was covered in tons of risotto, club soda shrimp, chicken, corn bread, honey mustard horseradish sauce, and macadamia nut-crusted chicken breasts (now my specialty). Each week at the end of each class we all sit down dinner and we eat what we made (this probably also encourages us to try harder while cooking). However, we make so much food each week that we just have to bring back left-overs to our houses. By this point, I really don’t feel like eating anything anymore so I let my friends have it. I’m afraid that I have trained them to expect good food every Wednesday night from now on. In any case, good food sure makes us happy!


Nina Budaeva