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Beaver squishmallow in front of Caltech


Beaver squishmallow with glasses in front of sign reading "California Institute of Technology"

Move-in is always an exhausting day. Strangely enough, I think this year’s move-in is the most “normal” since it’s at the beginning of fall term and not as big as my initial move-in during sophomore year (woohoo love an online frosh year). At the end of my sophomore year, I left most things in my room to be unpacked when I returned at the end of study abroad in January. So now, as a senior, I’m finally flying only cross-country again, a little bit early due to helping with orientation activities. Not as chaotic as my first move-in, but this marks my last undergraduate summer 😢. Move-in is an exciting time: it’s the start of a new year, everyone’s seeing their friends again after summer, rotation, and just general chaos. I remember my first move-in, which was much more thrilling than my move-in this time around.

Image of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon

My first move-in became a family vacation for my parents and sister as well. Aside from sending me to college, this was the first time any of us had the chance to go to the West Coast, save for some of my dad’s work trips. We didn’t do a cross-country road trip, though that would’ve been amazing, but we did a part-road trip. My mom was obsessed with going to the Grand Canyon, so we ended up flying to Arizona, going to the Grand Canyon for a few days, and then driving to California. The Grand Canyon was beautiful! I didn’t realize just how “grand” it was, but we walked around the rim the first day, and my sister and I were able to do a hike down into the canyon another day. Following an exhausting drive from Arizona to California, we spent a couple days in San Diego before finally driving to LA. I think my favorite part of San Diego was visiting the sea lions at La Jolla. We had one day to meander in LA, visiting Little Tokyo which quickly became my favorite neighborhood in the city.

Ankita sitting in her Page room in front of bed and next to ladder

Move-in was…a lot. I had participated in virtual rotation the year before, and so while I sorta knew my housemates, I didn’t know them that well nor them me. I ended up being checked in by some of the Page upperclassmen who recognized me through my mask. I also met my roommate for the first time once I got to my room, as we were randomly assigned to each other. Given that she’s still my roommate, I think it’s worked out quite well for us 🙂. Only two people were allowed with me at a time, so my mom and sister helped me move in the bulk of my things before my dad helped me with the rest. While I was setting up my bed it took me three tries to get the correct orientation of my ladder. I think it was correct originally, so I was turning it and flipping it for no reason with my roommate just sitting and observing my clownery.

Turtle pond

My first meal at Caltech ended up being at the Athenaeum. My family/dad is family friends with the sister of Vice Provost Kaushik Bhattacharya, so he invited us to lunch at the Ath. Despite never having met him, it was a nice lunch, and I say hi to Professor Bhattacharya whenever I see him. After lunch, my family did a walk across campus. It took five minutes to go from end to end. My sister went to UNC-Chapel Hill, where it took her over 20 minutes to walk from her freshman dorm to classes. I think this walk truly cemented just how small the campus is. As I was fully moved in by this point, and my family was flying out the next day, we said our goodbyes. They got lost trying to visit a lighthouse on the way back to the Airbnb while I was unpacking everything the best I could. They flew out the next day, and I didn’t see them again until December after one of the most grueling finals experiences of my life.

Orientation reception as hosted by ASCIT

Orientation and move-in were disorienting to put it mildly. But I was mainly just really excited for the chance to finally be on campus and meet the people in my year. We were thrown into classes quickly, coupled with doing a hybrid rotation for the Class of 2025 as well. Coming back for it this year firmly on the side of “upperclassman” is also disorienting. Though I’m not an FCC (first-year camp counselor), I still met a lot of the first-years early as I helped with a couple orientation panels, the post-reception pictured. This year is my last time moving into Page House and my first time properly participating in rotation. I’m excited (and also kinda sad)! I have no clue what the year will bring, but that’s okay! I didn’t properly realize until this year how much I associate Caltech with home. There are a lot of resources in the houses and around the school that make it a more supportive place, and a welcoming environment during the school year. I hope this year’s first-year class is excited to finally set foot on Caltech as they’ve probably been waiting to do since they got their acceptances. In the meantime, I’ll be unpacking and getting ready for probably one of the most challenging and fun years of college thus far.

Image of Ankita
Ankita Nandi ’24

Hi! I’m a senior in Page and involved with a number of student organizations on campus. I’m Director of Operations in student government, part of the Executive Board for Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans Plus (APIDA+), and involved with student publications like the literary magazine Looseleaf and the newspaper, The California Tech. Outside these activities, I enjoy spending time with friends outside on or off campus (like the Huntington Gardens), and love to read and get books from the local library.

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