Well, the week before finals week is finally here. And I spent that studying, but also, doing the ever-important finishing of reports, and honestly, taking a couple of much-needed naps to catch up on everything else.
Studying is a bit different here in Edinburgh. The biggest difference is that every single lecture is usually recorded. This means it’s very easy to have a lazy day of staying in bed and re-watching the lectures you missed or that you zoned out during. The most helpful part of this is that you can repeat parts of the lecture you don’t understand. So instead of getting pointlessly lost, you can repeat the same 5-second clip until the cows come home. The other major difference is that every past exam from any year this course has been taught is posted online. They change the exams significantly every year, so they’re able to put up all the past papers for you to do. This is quite helpful, as the exams have certain trends that allow you to pick out what the instructors think are important topics, and thus hone the area you’re studying around those subjects.
And, as with any good week of studying, David and I decided to take a bit of a study break and spend some time at the holiday Christmas party. The student union (basically the student government) runs this giant venue that got out a snow machine and some sick early 2000s tunes. And free santa hats. We have a lovely photo of us sipping water and looking up and to the left. I don’t know why they felt the need to post that but who knows ahahaha.
Oh! And we got free tickets to see the dress rehearsal of The Lion King in Edinburgh. This amazing experience was courtesy of the Singapore society, and we got to go out see it just a few days before anyone else. It was a wonderfully put on show, beautiful puppets (which weirded me out for most of the time) and generally great singing – although the kids did pronounce the “can’t” in “just can’t wait to be king” with an extremely heavy London accent which was a bit odd.
More theater soon! (we just got tickets to Les Mis in London – the dream of my theater life to see.)
I was sitting at the kitchen table, having just finished a meal, when I decided to check my admissions decision for Caltech. While I was nervous for what might happen, I’ve always had a “rip the band-aid off” attitude. The decision had been made and it was just up to me now to observe what it was. I remember the moment very vividly – I clicked on the link in my application portal and a stream of virtual orange confetti rained down my computer screen. The first line of the letter said “Congratulations!”
I remember huddling around my laptop with my mom and dad at the dining room table. While counting down from three, I took a few quick breaths and finally clicked on my application decision—the confetti on the screen was all we needed to jump up and scream! I remember hugging my parents as they happily shouted, “I knew it! I knew it!” It was an extremely exciting moment, and the rest of the day was really just a blur of my friends and family congratulating me on the acceptance.
Coming into Caltech, I was not like some of my peers who, from the first day of entering campus, knew exactly which field they wanted to pursue. I arrived at Caltech finding everything around me intriguing. From mathematics to mechanical engineering, from biology to computer science, all of the above! As (somewhat of) a joke, I would claim I wanted to do 18 majors at once! Once I reached campus, there came my challenge of trying to definitively determine what major fits best for me.
You’re squished with all your dorm essentials in the back of the car and your parents in the front trying to find parking. Emotions are high: Will you make friends? Will classes be too hard? What’s your roommate going to be like?