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.)
Four weeks before graduation! While I’m looking forward to the summer and all the fun it promises, I’m also reflecting on my undergraduate experience over the past few years. This is a blog about my favorite classes during my time here, some expected and others less so. As a Computer Science major, no CS classes actually make my final cut, but my top three favorite classes all fall into the realm of Neuroscience, my other primary academic interest.
I remember being a junior in HS and my APCS partner, Brooke, had just gotten accepted into Caltech. She was looking at the course catalog for humanities courses during class (instead of working on our project) and shaking her head at the offerings. When May rolled around, she told me part of the reason she didn’t choose to go to Caltech was how the humanities courses seemed to be “too scientific,” with classes that integrated history with quantum physics, etc. A year later, when I was in the same situation, I decided to matriculate to Caltech for its strong STEM offerings, but felt some anxiety about how my love of the humanities would be fed during my four years of undergraduate education.
One of the most well-known benefits of being a Caltech student is the infamous 3:1 student to faculty ratio, which implies a personalized, interactive undergraduate experience with world-class research scientists. It was a primary reason why I chose Caltech above other schools as a high school senior. Now as my time at Caltech comes to a close, I can reflect back on my interactions with different professors and consider if this 3:1 ratio really “lives up to the hype.” I believe the answer is yes.
Below I have ranked all of the classes I took over 8 terms at Caltech. I ranked based on my overall enjoyment of the course, which depended on my interest in the subject, the quality of course, and the various topics/projects covered. The courses in the middle I did not have strong feelings for and had a hard time justifying their position besides gut feeling, so I did not provide reasoning for those.