Today, for the first time, my friends and I cooked Korean food on our own. My mom is Korean, and when she makes Korean food, I’m typically assigned the task of chopping vegetables or mixing salt into rice or some else mundane. The most pivotal role I’ve played in Korean food prep up until today has been spreading rice and vegetables on a sheet of seaweed and rolling it up to make kimbap, the Korean lookalike of sushi. Even then, my aunt was working beside me, bestowing frequent advice: don’t spread the rice all the way to the end of the sheet, or it’ll splurt out when you roll it; put the spinach and radish in this order to make it look prettier.
But today, a few friends and I attempted to prepare a dish without any guidance or prior experience making it: Jajangmyeon. Like miso soup, the dish is based on fermented soybean paste. Noodles are drowned in a black, savory-sweet soybean sauce. It may sound strange at first, I realize, but hear me out. First into the sauce is pork belly, fried to a golden brown. Next, diced onion and cubes of zucchini and potato are added and cooked until soft. Finally, globs of the deep black soybean sauce are stirred in, turning the whole dish black. Crisp slivers of cucumber are arranged on top of each serving.
Also on the menu for our Saturday dinner: Aloe vera juice, ginger dumplings, sweet spiced pickles, and mango mochi. Most of our cooking supplies were funded by a Caltech grant literally named the “Fun Fund.” The Don Shepard Fun Fund randomly distributes twenty-five dollars to about a hundred Caltech undergrads each term just to “do something fun,” as long as it has “socially redeeming value.” I’ve entered the lottery for this all three terms, and have won it twice. Both times I’ve used it for—guess what—food.
On the weekend of April 16th, my friends and I participated in the first ever Southern California College Poker Tournament! The tournament was for college students in the SoCal area with a $0 buy-in that doubled as a recruiting event for quant and finance firms. A senior friend of mine (Vanessa, a fellow blogger) put together a team of five girls who had no interest in being recruited and just wanted to have fun playing poker.
One of Caltech’s many clubs is the RISE tutoring program, where undergraduate students connect with local high schoolers and provide tutoring in various STEM subjects. I only became a tutor this academic year, but the experience has been so rewarding for me and, hopefully, also for the students I tutor.
Usually, while writing this post, I would be at Caltech playing volleyball. I begin school eith preseason, which for those unfamiliar (or are planning on joining women’s volleyball, women’s soccer, men’s soccer, men’s waterpolo, or cross country) is a 5 week long period before school begins where the sports teams I listed before practice and compete. My life during preseason is basically volleyball 24/7. Two practices a day (during school only one) and game days three days a week. No school work to worry about, spending time with my teammates all day, a nice refresher before school begins.
Every year, the Caltech Society of Women Engineers attends the National SWE conference to network with other SWE Chapters and to hustle for jobs. Last year, the event was in Minneapolis, and the year before in Austin. This time around, it’s in Anaheim which is much more convenient for us. Since it is much closer, we were able to send many more delegates to attend and miss fewer classes in the process of doing so.