The Bishop prize is given for a cultural experience, so I am taking French classes at Alliance Française. The language school is a pretty big deal here, and has outlets around the world. I have to wake up at 7:30 every morning to get to class at 9:00. My classes are 4 hours a day, until 1:00pm, because it's an intensive program. There are roughly 10 people in my class, and the only language we all know is French. Many people have Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese backgrounds.
I did French immersion in elementary school so I am already fluent. However, I felt that I was losing a lot of the French I knew and wanted to improve my accent by coming to Paris. I know that you don't want to hear all that much about my studies so I'll share a bit more about the places I've been visiting.
Recently, I visited Opera Garnier and the Notre Dame in Paris. The Opera is a popular place for famous ballets and operas to be premiered and is actually a huge palace. Currently, there is an exhibit about the life of Mozart. I've played piano for 9 years, so the Mozart exhibit really spoke to me. It was super cool to see his original manuscript of symphonies and sonatas. I wanted to check out the inside of the theatre, with all the red sofas and balconies, but it was closed for rehearsals. I might come back to watch the premiere of National ballet next week.
I checked out Notre Dame just for comparison's sake. The one in Paris is a lot more packed with tourists since it's right in the middle of the Seine. There are people selling bottled water everywhere and none of the tourists seem to speak English nor French. The interior is roughly the same as all other Cathedrals -- chairs, statues, painted glass. The exterior is also rather homogenous with stone walls and gothic architecture.
Always not quite organized, my desk is a constant, yet subtle reminder of why I ultimately chose Caltech: the people. (sigh… I bet you haven’t heard that one before!). It’s no secret that Caltech has a small undergraduate population but, in my experience, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find your people, it means you’ll be able to find them faster!
With the third term fast approaching and the status of COVID on campus pushing all major events to the spring quarter, students of the houses of Caltech were excited. The reason? Interhouse season had arrived. Interhouses, a longstanding tradition of the California Institute of Technology, are summarized as parties hosted by each respective house, usually with a theme, in which the entire undergraduate population is invited to attend. As every undergraduate house of Caltech has its own personality and characteristics, these interhouses too have their own flair depending on the house who hosts them.
Let’s face it: the US loves being just a little different from everyone else. The obvious example? Units of measurement. As an international student from Canada, even I have no clue what’s going on half the time when my friends talk to me and use these weird nonsensical units. And I’ve literally lived on the border between Canada and the States for all my life. After a year here, I’ve finally got a sense of how the two systems of measurement compare and how you can more easily get your bearings with these weird units.
About a dozen frosh sit and stand in a semicircle around a whiteboard. Various Lloyd-themed interhouse names sit on a list awaiting their fate. One by one, possibilities are discussed and voted on, until four remain.