This past July 4th weekend I was able to go up to San Francisco to meet up with a bunch of friends, all from different phases of my life, and it was an absolute blast of a time getting to see everybody! I could give the full itinerary, but it wasn’t really the most touristy and consisted of a lot of just “chilling.” If anything it was a welcome contrast to the breakneck pace at Caltech; even as I love pushing myself harder intellectually than I’d have ever expected, I can’t like hanging out with good friends any less.
It turns out my high school landed an unbelievably large number of students in the Bay Area this summer, so I got to meet up with all of them and meet their +1s, most of whom were couples. In fact, I was the only one who brought a +1 whowasn’t a significant other.
Getting to see where everybody ended up was a privilege indeed, and the great thing about having such intelligent friends scattered to the four winds only to meet back up again is the diversity of thought. College is perhaps the most influential period on our intellectual lives, and it was all of heartening, inspiring and stimulating to hear what everybody’s gone through and how they’ve handled it all.
Notable also were my fourth (yes, fourth…) trip to Fisherman’s wharf and a complete failure to see fireworks amid the thick fog that consistently dominates the San Francisco skyline. However, despite it being my fourth trip into San Francisco and certainly not my most touristy one, it was still a very enjoyable one simply for the company. I would highly recommend such sorts of opportunities even if it means compromising somewhat on work (which thankfully I didn’t need) simply because, well, it was really fun to see everybody from home again and see what they were up to!
Starting college can be a big transition. You’re moving to a new place, starting a new school and classes, and faced with making new friends in an unfamiliar environment. And, of course, there’s that whole “becoming an adult” thing. But, you’re also leaving a lot behind. Every new beginning means that an old chapter must come to an end. Leaving behind our friends at home may seem difficult, especially if they’re going to be a long distance away from you during the school year. Something I made sure to do was to spend a lot of time with them during the summer after high school. Of course, going to college doesn’t mean you’ll never see your friends again, or that you will no longer be friends with them. Good friendships will last if you put effort into them. It may seem hard initially. Coming into Caltech, it’s a sharp adjustment and many are caught up in the excitement of Orientation, Rotation, and starting classes. It may be hard to remember to check your phone frequently and to make time for phone calls and such. Rest assured that if you have other friends going to college, they’re probably going to go through similar things you will. In this transition period, it can feel like you’re going to immediately lose touch with people that mean a lot to you.
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.
After a year spent in “soft-lockdown” at home in Atlanta, and as Caltech students prepared to finally return to campus, I was aboard an eight hour flight towards Edinburgh, Scotland. Since my junior year plans were interrupted by the virus who shall not be named, I’m spending my first term of senior year studying abroad through the Caltech - Edinburgh University International Exchange program. I’ve only been here just over a week yet have been exposed to so many new people, perspectives, foods, and classes.
When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!