I love to cook, so when I had some spare Groupon dollars on hand, I purchased a Groupon for Hello Fresh, a meal subscription service. Every week, they send me some fresh produce along with instructions to prepare these semi-elaborate meals. It’s not that I can’t find recipes and go grocery shopping alone. I just wanted to see whether such a service is of any value to me, or another college student with a similar lifestyle.
The package came in a giant cardboard box with three mini cardboard boxes inside – one for each meal. At the bottom there was probably 10 pounds of ice. It was such a pain to drag the package from the mail pick-up center to my dorm kitchen. My first complaint would be about the packaging. It is pretty wasteful, but I can’t think of a better alternative.
Going on about packaging. It is kind of clever how they have spices packed by the teaspoon. This way you can control your seasonings and also not have to have additional utensils like measuring spoons to prepare your meal. On the bright side, these were packed in paper envelops which is recyclable.
Photo from Hellofresh.ca
The meals I got were: Crispy chicken Milanese, linguine with sausage and zucchini, and turkey lemongrass satay. They were all absolutely delicious. The portions aren’t huge – enough to fill you up, but still leaves me peckish for another granola bar after. I guess it helps with portion control if you are concerned with that.
The amount of produce you get for the price you pay is not worth it if you are paying in full. However, the produce is fresh and good quality. If convenience is a huge factor I would consider trying it out, but it shouldn’t be since Pavilions and Trader Joe’s are both within walking distance. I won’t be renewing my subscription after these boxes since they are beyond my budget. However, I am eager to try a produce subscription that comes without recipes, which is actually half the cost of Hello Fresh.
If you want a more detailed review, you should check out this one by The Kitchn. It was this review that convinced me to give meal subscription a shot. Apparently subscription boxes are all the rage these days because you can get monthly deliveries of anything and everything, from cosmetics, books, snacks, to art supplies, razors, and underwear.
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.