Morning! Or night. Or whatever. Late nights are weird.
And a late night it has been, not necessarily because of any work, but more because I just didn’t feel sleepy. Plus, early morning is a great time to start a blog post! Totally! Not really. At least this is a perfect (i.e. good enough) segue into today’s post about sleep.
Or the lack thereof.
In my personal experience of almost two decades of, well, sleeping, I’ve tended to notice a general trend in how people approach their nightly snooze. From high school onwards, sleep is an amazing thing, loved by pretty much everyone; end of the day, though, when that friend calls you at 11 PM or that project raises its head and says “Hey, remember me? Yeah, I’m not anywhere NEAR done,” sleep is the first thing to be sacrificed.
So we keep entering this loop where we’re sleepy and constantly pushing it off – pushing it off for good reasons, sure, but pushing it off regardless. This loop continues through high school for a lot of people, really. Occasionally, we have our moments where we can sleep for like 11 hours, and at that point we reset in some ways, but still, the loop’s just going to start again.
The reason this is relevant is that Caltech has a reputation, along with a few other universities, for not affording a lot of time for sleep. Obviously it has a lot to do with workload, but I also think it has a bit to do with this loop we end up caught in. A lot of times we end up not doing work when we could at 4 PM, so it gets pushed to 4 AM. There’s going to be times when people have so much work that sleeping late is basically a necessity, but that’s not all the time.
To be frank, half the time I sleep late it’s because I have an internet connection and an entire web filled with videos to explore. Like this:
Yeah, I’m up right now because of legos. I’m not sure if that’s a horrible or very good reason to be up.
End of the day, I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes you do have a choice in whether or not you choose to get like 2 hours of sleep a night or like 7 or 8. While I am but a humble freshman, I know upperclassmen who can still pull off fair 7.5 hour chunks of sleep, have a solid social life, and get good grades. There might be a week they have to drop down on the sleep a bit, but then there’s times when they can get as much sleep as they want. It’s not totally up to you, but you have some level of choice.
Well, that’s it for my soapbox session. I think I’m going to take my own advice on this one and call it a night; that bed looks far too inviting. Next time we meet should be at a far more reasonable hour.
This summer I had the incredible opportunity to do a 10-week internship at Gilead Sciences in Foster City, CA. For those unfamiliar, Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a research-based biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative medicines.
With 45 Nobel Laureates on its Faculty Roster, it’s not surprising that research is an integral part of the Caltech undergraduate experience. One of the programs that promotes such research is the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). There is no minimum knowledge or experience required to participate in a Caltech SURF. In fact, students can participate in a SURF as soon as the summer after their freshman year. It is not difficult to get a SURF. All you need to do is find a mentor who is working in an area of research that interests you and willing to mentor you through a research project. The mentor can work in a Caltech lab, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), or at another participating institution. Once you find a mentor, you work together to write a project proposal that you later send to the SURF office for review and approval. About 98% of the SURF proposals get approved. This fellowship is a great way to explore various fields of research and obtain real, hands-on experience where you get to apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve learned in class. Not only do you get to work and learn alongside your mentor, but you also get compensated for your time. The length of the SURF is ten weeks, and it starts at the beginning of the summer. However, it is not uncommon for many students at Caltech to continue their research project throughout the academic school year.
Like many students at Caltech, I suffer from a slight boba addiction, where side effects may include over caffeination, minor sugar highs, and of course, a large toll on one’s wallet. This addiction is not helped by the fact that there are at least three boba shops within walking distance of campus. So, after an entire term’s worth of boba runs, I came back from winter break with a new year’s epiphany: it was time to get a job. Rather than try to curb my addiction, I decided to find a way to subsidize it.