After a week being back, I think it’s about time for some reflections on what it meant to be abroad, and what I’ve taken away from it. I’m really happy to be back, but it’s just been almost a culture shock of sorts being back in California, and back at my true home (for now, at least).
Of course, my parents wouldn’t say that Caltech is my home, but I think that may be one of the first things I realized when I was abroad; when people ask me where I’m from I’d always say that I was born in Denver and I live in Los Angeles. In a lot of ways, bit by bit, I’ve become more and more of a Los Angeles convert. Still a Colorado native at heart, but a Los Angeles native. I really do love Los Angeles. When I stepped off the plane in Burbank flying in I remembered a bit of that. The rolling hills, warm air, and palm trees. It is its own kind of magic.
I’ll be honest, I miss Singapore. I miss waking up knowing that one of the best roast duck plates I’ve ever had is a 2-minute walk and $3 away. I miss fencing in the suffocating humidity, and even taking the bus to work every single morning. Singapore in a lot of ways felt like a place I truly belonged, an Asian country with a huge British influence, just like how I’m an Asian person with a large amount of American influence.
I miss Scotland too, but a little bit less so. I don’t think I connected to Scotland quite as much as I did to Singapore. It was scold, for one, and as I’m sure y’all readers have figured out, I can’t really deal with cold weather. I really do miss all my friends though. I miss the late evenings out with Justin, the lack of homework, the constant, nonstop travelling. It was a great time being abroad, and it feels almost wrong to be stagnant in one location for the rest of the year.
And my takeaway from all of this is that I can find those same things back here at Tech too. I can take a weekend and go down to San Diego or camping in the mountains. I can hunt for that cheap and delicious roast duck.
So that’s my takeaway. Life doesn’t need to change, but instead expand from all of the experiences that you live through. Take those same life lessons and apply them to your daily life.
We’ve all heard that the stomach is the fastest way to someone’s heart^. I never fully understood this until I got to college. While Caltech Dining Services (CDS) does its best to diversify the lunch and dinner menus, sometimes nothing can quite fulfill the craving for your mom’s home cooking. Having grown up in between Venezuela and Texas, home cooking for me looks like arepas, tacos, and brisket (among other things). Thankfully, Caltech’s location, just outside vibrant LA, makes attempts to find close seconds (to my mom’s cooking) easy and exciting. Often, I don’t even have to venture more than a mile or two from campus to find reliable favorites. Here are just a few within walking distance:
On May 8, the Washington Nationals came to Los Angeles Angels for a lovely Mother’s Day Game. I, being a D.C. native and avid Nationals fan, of course had to attend– the Nationals play the Angels very rarely because they play in different leagues and on opposite coasts. My dad and I have a goal of going to all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums, and we had to take advantage of our home team being in L.A., so my mom and dad both flew out for the weekend.
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.