Apologies to our dedicated readers for the delay of these posts! The internet connection was pretty shaky and I didn’t know if things were loading on the server, because they certainly weren’t loading on my laptop. I’m currently sitting at Dulles Airport, happily connected to their free wifi.
Where have we been? The comprehensive list is as follows: Wednesday was our free morning/noon, and many of us went to see the monuments and memorials. In the afternoon, we headed over to the Department of Energy to talk with Steve Koonin, who actually was at Caltech to give a talk earlier during this term. The National Academy of Sciences was next, and there were equations carved into the floor:
and where there was an amazing DNA staircase [extrapolate the double helix]…
and the equally amazing reflecting mirror.
Thursday was the busiest day, we woke up and had breakfast at 8 in order to get to NIH around 10:30. As Elaine wrote earlier, we met with Jim Battey who spoke to us about stem cell research and policy.
Group picture in front of the Supreme Court
The National Institutes of Health
After the NIH, we took the metro to the Metro Center for lunch, and then walked to AAAS for a meeting with Dan Poux and AAAS fellows who are Caltech alumni:
Off to the Pentagon! Five floors, five sections, five sides in a pentagon. Brilliant.
Dinner was on our own, so some of us ended up walking into Jaleo, an extremely popular Spanish restaurant and tapas bar. Might as well enjoy the last night in D.C., right?
Time to get daily exercise [as if we haven’t walked enough over the past week already]!
We walked to the Jefferson Memorial over the Potomac River:
You can probably tell that I went very camera-happy on this trip…
The entire D.C. area is beautiful, and though the monuments trick you by being so huge that it seems that they’re in line with each other and closer together than it seems, every trek was worth it.
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!