I’m beginning to get the suspicion that every Caltech humanities class tries to find some excuse to go visit the Huntington. I’m not complaining though. I love the gardens. It gives me an excuse to get off campus and be surrounded by lush foliage like I was living in a different world. Even if only for a moment. This Huntington trip was a bit different, and sponsored by English 128, the contemporary Irish literature course I’m taking taught by Dean Gilmartin.
I decided to do a few things different this time. First, I got lunch at the noodle restaurant in the Chinese gardens. Solid food, 4/5 stars on Yelp. Two dollar signs. I got the seafood special which was a black pepper shrimp, along with some barbeque pork wontons which are pictured below. The plating was nice, but the flavors were a little salty and overpowering for me. And the shrimp didn’t taste quite right although I couldn’t put my finger on what was causing it. I’d been expecting a little better but what can you do.
Second, I went to the museum of science history. Or more properly I skipped to the lightbulb section. As I’m sure you’ve discovered by now, I have a fascination with light in whatever form it comes in, and the Huntington’s Edison bulbs were awesome, as were the fiber optic cables that they had strung from the ceilings.
Finally, I decided to explore two new regions of the gardens. I spent more time in the rainforest section, which was a trip down memory lane of the rainforest section I worked in at the zoo. It was also very reminiscent of Jurassic park. It’s funny how tropical gardens are like that. I also went to the lily ponds. There weren’t really too many lilies, but there were lots of koi. The koi also knew where they were normally fed, which you could tell by the little congregation they formed when you approached their pond.
Oh. And we saw some books. That might’ve been the purpose of the trip actually. The highlight for me was the signed copy of James Joyce’s Dubliners. Joyce embodies the way that I wish I could write. The beautifully crafted short story with the ending line that makes you rethink your life and your worldview. That’s something I’ve always aspired to.
One of the most exciting aspects of college life is the freedom that students enjoy when living on their own. When most students think about college life, one of the first things that comes to mind is Greek life, with the many sororities and fraternities on campuses across the country. While Caltech does not have Greek life, per se, we do have a unique housing system, similar to that of Hogwarts. There are eight houses and one residence on campus: Avery, Blacker, Dabney, Fleming, Lloyd, Page, Ricketts, Ruddock, and the Bechtel Residence. Each of the houses has its own unique culture, character, and traditions. I am a member of Ruddock House!
This past year was so different than most of us could have ever imagined. Living in “the virtual school year” posed a plethora of challenges, but at the same time, it opened the door to new possibilities. As a society, we learned how to better operate in a virtual world, and as individuals, we had time for new endeavors. For myself, this meant taking the leap of faith to move away from home and live with some fellow Techers. While I had already had the experience of moving away from home and coming to live in the Caltech houses, this was quite different. Instead of living in organized student residences with hundreds of other students, a meal plan, and tons of support resources, I was about to go live with just 5 other people (some of which I did not know super well) and we had to find and manage our own housing, food, and necessities.
My favorite part about Caltech is the Houses! The easiest way to describe them is as Hogwarts houses: each has their own personality and group of people and the first thing you do at Caltech is go through a “sorting” process. The people are what makes the Houses at Caltech so great. As a frosh, it’s amazing to be able to come in and immediately have a group of 100+ people to support you. Because the Houses have students from every grade, you make friends with upperclassmen and can ask for help on tons of things like: