As I sat down to write this week’s blog entry, I felt like I had just finished writing last week’s. I had the hardest time remembering what happened in this week–I supposed it passed very quickly. I asked some of my friends about what we did during the week; “Sets” they replied. Thanks a lot guys… Anyway, no thanks to them I managed to slowly recall a few interesting things to share with you.
First off, another weekend, another party. I realized when writing this blog that every one of my posts has mentioned a party. This is interesting because even I didn’t realize we had so many parties; and I am one of the first people to tell other Caltech students that our parties are better / occur more frequently than they think. I find myself saying this because a lot of people here don’t really have a basis for comparison–they just assume that since we’re (let’s face it) a bunch of nerds that we don’t know how to throw a party. Having been to parties at “party schools”, I have to disagree with these people. Some of our parties are really quite awesome; I don’t know many other schools where as much planning (and really cool construction) goes into the parties. Of course, the one thing that party schools have that we don’t is a large number of students who know how to party. The majority of people who come to most of our parties come for five minutes to look at the construction and then leave after realizing that they are too uncomfortable to dance / socialize with people outside of their normal friends. This means that they don’t necessarily have a way of rating the party (or more importantly, enjoying it) which leads to the misconception I addressed in the beginning of the paragraph. My point is that I think parties at Caltech are hidden treasures–I hope you manage to find time to come to one and experience it first hand.
All that aside, the party this weekend (Page Interhouse) was actually not that great. Maybe my expectations are high (Page Interhouse two years ago was one of the best parties I’ve been to) but I was a bit disappointed. Construction was relatively unambitious, music was decent but nothing to write home about, and essential supplies ran low quickly. Because of this (and my not taking any pictures at Page Interhouse), instead of showing you a picture of Page Interhouse I have decided to instead show you pictures of interhouses past. Oh, by the way, you might be wondering what I mean by interhouse: Each house throws its own party annually, known as an interhouse party. Page Interhouse is obviously the party hosted by Page. Of course, houses often throw other parties as well (ex: Fleming Frosh Party, Lloyd Quads Party, etc.) and there are non-house-affiliated parties (Europarty) and then there is Big Interhouse, which is all of the houses throwing parties simultaneously. I’ll stop here before my post gets any more confusing. So, the pictures I’ve posted below are all from “Big Interhouse” two years ago–apologies for the crappy shots, but I’m just a poor college kid with an inexpensive camera and little photography skills.
The shot below is a picture of my friend Evelyn ratcheting in some lag bolts. Before this picture I didn’t know anyone could pull off looking stylish and doing construction work at the same time.
This second picture is just a shot of the crowd from a catwalk.
Well, that’s all I have to say on parties for now. In other news, I went to lunch on Tuesday with my Chinese professor and class to a really nice Chinese restaurant, where we ordered in Chinese. It was a lot of fun, and the food was great. Also, we didn’t have to pay for it–always a bonus. I am happy to find that my excitement to learn Chinese at the beginning of the term has persisted, if not grown stronger. Another cool event: Lloyd had a Capture the Flag event last weekend. I have very little to say except that it was a lot of fun. Additionally, the first match we played (upperclassmen vs. frosh) the frosh were remarkably tricky and managed to plant like three decoy flags. Good job frosh.
Last but not least, I have finally started working on a personal website. I like to do graphic design so I spent a long time fussing over the artwork, and finally got a design. I’ll probably post more about that hobby at a later time, once I have some hosted images to show you.
Aside from things happening with my life, there are a few other things you prospective students might be interested in. One is the upcoming “techerchat” next week which is an opportunity to talk to current Caltech students (including me) in an online chat. If you’d like to come say hi, my username is Caltech Tom and I’ll be doing the December 2nd, 4-7pm chat. Of course, if you’d like to chat with me on a one-to-one basis you are always welcome to email me or leave a note in the comments.
One final note: my blog is really cool in that I’m given the freedom to write about whatever I want to. For the most part, I focus on trying to share the interesting aspects of my life and certain interesting aspects of Caltech that you may or may not be aware of. In any case, the blog is for YOU and if you have anything specific you’d like to hear more about, please leave a note in the comments. I’d love to address almost anything you’d like me to–exceptions being anything related to admissions.
OK, it’s 6:20 AM, I need to be up at 10 to go to my grad student mentor’s house for Thanksgiving. I should probably get on that whole sleep thing… see ya!
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.
Research at Caltech looks different for every student, and can often vary term by term. As a chemistry major, my course requirements are on the lighter side for a Caltech major, and many chemistry majors take advantage of the lighter course load to join research groups. This can be whenever the student wants, but many people join labs during their freshman or sophomore years. Some may work in one lab only, and some may switch between labs during the course of their undergraduate studies, depending on if their interests change.
SURF, short for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, is a quintessential experience for any Caltech student. It is a widely accessible research fellowship for Caltech students that funds your proposed research for one summer term. While many of my classmates did their first SURF the summer after their freshman year, I sent in my first application to the program as a sophomore. As a CS major, I was trying to chase meaningful work that intersected computation with the field of neuroscience. I ended up doing a SURF at the Stanford School of Medicine that first year, studying hand gestures in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Since then, I’ve been working in the research space of applying computational analyses to ASD.
This summer, from the confines of my Brooklyn apartment, you could find me typing away on a tiny 13-inch laptop screen. At times I was looking for answers on countless Stack Exchange pages, editing a Jupyter notebook, or making blood flow measurements on a software called Arterys. This was my 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURF) experience.