I went home for a weekend in July because my older cousin was visiting from Taiwan. He’s a software engineer, which gets me thinking…wow, I have a botanist cousin, a doctor cousin, a software engineer cousin (and a banker cousin). These are the ones that are out of college and have jobs. For those in college, there’s a math major, an electrical engineer, me (the chemical engineer) and my younger brother, who will study chemistry. Science appears to run in the family, until the next cousin in line decides to study finance or diplomacy or international trade.
Anyhow, my cousin the software engineer has an obsession with Legos, leading my parents to plan an outing to Legoland. I remember loving the place as a kid, but I haven’t been there for ten years. I was nervous and excited to be going back, our all-adult group a rarity in a theme park where nearly every visiting party has at least one child below, say, the age of 10.
Now Legoland has a resort right next to it. I think it’s more fun to not live right next to a small theme park (at least Disneyland has two parks now), but that’s just my personal opinion. The screaming kids going in and out seemed to be having the time of their lives, however.
Legoland plans its topiary quite well. The buffalo are a clever mix of shrub and Legos–just the right balance between maintenance costs and lifeless plastic.
Next is a picture of a Lego beaver swimming in the stream. Caltech pride.
An ice cream Lego set? …to teach children about computation and permutation when they make sundaes and ice cream cones for their friends, of course.
They also give kids practice for climbing banana trees. I mean, “banana trees.” The tree is clearly fake. How like a monkey is a human, squirreling up that plastic, the stationary watcher observes.
As for what there is actually to see at Legoland, what is meant by park officials to be seen by the visiting public, this is a portion of the mini Lego world. On the top, the new Star Wars exhibit that wasn’t here in my time (Episode II, Attack of the Clones, Battle in the Arena); and on the bottom, mini Las Vegas (the Luxor Hotel, with its nice pyramid and sphinx).
We went on this extremely slow, tomb-raider themed shooting ride; a spinning ride that at Disneyland is shaped like teacups and at Legoland is shaped like Bionicle building blocks; and the Technicoaster, the one legitimate roller coaster the park presents. My childhood favorite, the Dragon roller coaster, had a pretty long line, so we did not attempt a second roller coaster ride.
I remember why I stopped coming to Legoland after I started growing up. Too many kids, too crowded despite not being Disneyland, too few physically thrilling attractions. Knott’s Berry Farm has gone up a few notches on my list. But yes, it was a good experience too, like visiting a fond childhood hideout, refreshing the memory after it had worn thin. It’s important to remember a child’s emotions and a child’s pleasures, for the sake of understanding the world around us and understanding our own inner children we did not succeed in leaving fully behind.
Whenever I tell someone that Caltech has an undergraduate population of less than one thousand people, their first reaction is disbelief. “Really?” they exclaim. “You must know everyone! How can you get a real college experience with so few undergrads?”
One of the most exciting aspects of college life is the freedom that students enjoy when living on their own. When most students think about college life, one of the first things that comes to mind is Greek life, with the many sororities and fraternities on campuses across the country. While Caltech does not have Greek life, per se, we do have a unique housing system, similar to that of Hogwarts. There are eight houses and one residence on campus: Avery, Blacker, Dabney, Fleming, Lloyd, Page, Ricketts, Ruddock, and the Bechtel Residence. Each of the houses has its own unique culture, character, and traditions. I am a member of Ruddock House!
This past year was so different than most of us could have ever imagined. Living in “the virtual school year” posed a plethora of challenges, but at the same time, it opened the door to new possibilities. As a society, we learned how to better operate in a virtual world, and as individuals, we had time for new endeavors. For myself, this meant taking the leap of faith to move away from home and live with some fellow Techers. While I had already had the experience of moving away from home and coming to live in the Caltech houses, this was quite different. Instead of living in organized student residences with hundreds of other students, a meal plan, and tons of support resources, I was about to go live with just 5 other people (some of which I did not know super well) and we had to find and manage our own housing, food, and necessities.