Figuratively of course. Well for me at least. This past weekend, the SURF program sponsored a trip to Santa Monica beach, so of course my friends and I, being the car-less and poor students that we are (or believe we are), decided to take full advantage of this opportunity. The morning before I went however, I checked the forecast which reported a rather gloomy high of 65 degrees. Seeing this, I decided not to wear my swim suit (I mean, if the weather was 65 degrees think about how cold the water would be!!)
And at first, was I glad to have brought my jacket! When we first arrived at the beach around 11am, it was still very chilly and very gloomy looking. Some of my friends decided to brave the waters, only to come shivering back just a couple of minutes later. Well, all except for the one from Alaska, who marveled that the water was the “perfect temperature for swimming”.
So instead, we decided to check out the pier near by. Santa Monica pier isn’t your usual fisherman’s pier, although there were many people fishing from it. Instead, it’s filled with restaurants, a mini amusement park complete with a Ferris wheel and carnival games, and of course the usualsouvenirshops as well as many street performers.
Here’s another view of the pier from the Ferris wheel. It wasn’t huge but it was just the right size to stroll through casually and have fun while waiting for the weather to warm up.
Nearby the beach, just a couple of blocks or so, was a huge outdoor shopping mall where my friends and I decided to check out and eat lunch at. While most of my guy friends decided to go straight back to the beach after eating lunch, my girl friends and I (and one guy friend) decided to look at some of shops. Funnily, none of us bought anything except for my guy friend who decided to buy two new outfits…. We certainly teased him appropriately for his girly excitement about buying new clothes.
By the time we finished up shopping, it was the perfect temperature for going to the beach! It was definitely way above 65 degrees…. Of course the weatherman would lie. But swimsuit-less as I was, I just decided to lounge around on the beach, burying people in sand and making sand castles as my friends decided to try swimming.
And what day at the beach would be complete without any jumping pictures? This one took at least five tries before we got all three of us in the air… but I’ll blame completely on our cameraman :)
The next day, my friends decided to pig out (yes once again) by going to an all-you-can-eatKoreanbbqrestaurant. At only $10 per person ($12 with tax and tip) it was perfect for the starving college student. And not only is there unlimited meat, Korean barbecue is also known for serving plenty of side dishes like kimchi (a kind of spicy, pickled vegetables), seasoned bean sprouts, salad, etc for the purpose of….
Making a delicious wrap of seasoned meat, salad, other such side dishes, and spicy sauce all wrapped up in a sheet of rice paper. And of course eating an unlimited portion of meat wasn’t enough for my starving friends. We decided to pig out even more by….
Eating shaved ice and boba afterwards (with the excuse to get the smell off of our clothes)! Can you believe that this is actually the small serving? My friends and I were, since there was eight of us, debating about getting the large size, worried that there wouldn’t be enough for all of us. However, were we glad that we got the small size when this monstrosity came out. And to top it off, since one of my friends actually new two of the waitresses at the cafe, we got free ice cream and condensed milk as well. Let’s just say, none of us went back hungry that day.
But, it’s time to digest all of that good food and get back to working seriously: Next week is my presentation at group meeting. Wish me luck!! Till next time
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.