I killed today. Yes, I killed Thanksgiving dinner, but more than that, this was the first time that I’d ever prepared live seafood.
You’re probably asking, “Andrew, why would you be preparing seafood for thanksgiving?” Easy to say, I don’t have the equipment or free will necessary to prepare a turkey instead. Of course, little did I know the adventure I was getting myself into by choosing to prepare Singaporean chilli crab instead. Crab was remarkably cheap here; I paid 10 quid (ten pounds) for two crabs. Only catch, they were still alive. So, after a brief trip to the freezer the crabs were humanely dispatched. Then I got to clean the crab (also an adventure).
Following this, I sautéed the vegetables, then added the crab and made a thick sauce with a bit of added cornstarch. Let it boil for 20 minutes and boom! Chilli crab all done and all through. Next up, another Singaporean specialty, Hainanese chicken rice. This was a bit simpler; we just made a marinade for the chicken, boiled the chicken, and then cooked the rice in chicken fat instead of the typical water.
But wait! There’s more! It wouldn’t have been thanksgiving without at least one of my southern family’s famous thanksgiving dishes. I had a hard time deciding which of the southern favorites that I would be bringing – would it be the infamous chocolate pies? Mashed potatoes/ In the end, I settled for something in-between: mashed SWEET POTATOES! It’s a sweet potato casserole, which is a fancy code word for sweet potatoes, cream, sugar, and a topping of marshmallows. We actually didn’t even end up eating the pie we bought because of how full we were from everything else.
The crab, however, was not an easy one to eat. It was legitimately spicy (rather unlike most of the chilli crab you’d find in Singapore), but the kicker was how hard the shells were. In Singapore they specifically get a mud crab from Sri Lanka, a very fancy, high quality crab. British brown crab is definitely good, however it’s nowhere near that good. And the shell was very hard to crack. One claw took the combined effort of me, Justin, Alvin, and Chav in order to open it’s hard exterior. It did so in a rather violent explosion too. But I suppose that’s half the fun of cooking.
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!