This Term

This Term


Hi again, everybody. Welcome to the last Frosh Experience of

  1. Christmas was excellent— it’s the one time of the year that I get to see all of my extended family. And now New Year’s is tonight! It’s my favorite holiday. As a kid, I just liked that I got to stay up late. Now, New Year’s is a stopping point for me. A time when I get to take a break, reflect on my accomplishments in the past year, and more importantly, reflect on what’s in store for me this year. Last year, I was thinking about graduation, research presentations, and getting into college. This year….hmmmmm…I’m looking forward to my next term at Caltech and thinking about what I want to do differently.

This term…

This term, I signed up for fewer units than last term, hoping to develop the study skills that I didn’t really need in high school. This term, I want to get off campus a little more often, venture into Los Angeles a little more. This term, I want to think about getting a SURF (that’s a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship) for the summer. This term, I’m going to attend a few seminars and lectures on topics completely beyond my comprehension, just because I’m at Caltech and I can.

Of course, there are the classes themselves to think about! Which is what I want to talk about today. But first, I got a response to my last post asking me to elaborate a little on Prefrosh Weekend. So, Prefrosh Weekend is our admitted students’ weekend, and though it’s definitely worth attending, not everyone can, so I suppose I could give some examples of PFW

So, you will stay in one of the houses, and have dinner at that house as well as one other house during the weekend. I remember mentioning that each of the houses puts on activities. Some examples would be Ricketts Open Mic Night, Ruddock Greens (in which Ruddock House is turned into a miniature golf course), DDR in Avery, Blacker Deconstruction (where Blacker asked the age-old question: Who can take apart a piano faster- prefrosh with sledgehammers or Techers with their bare hands). Deconstruction is also where I took this picture of Techers making ice cream with liquid nitrogen and a drill.

Our final day, prefrosh were encouraged to spend the day exploring Pasadena, so I grabbed up two of my new friends and took in my first tastes of California and Pasadena. We ate Korean food (something I’d never have seen back home!), I saw my first Jamba Juice (very California, IMHO), nearly crashed a wedding taking place near Pasadena town hall, and snapped a picture

After consulting the map, we found that there is also a Newton Ave. and a Eureka Ave. in Pasadena, but after all that, we were ready to head back to campus. I mentioned a lot about visiting classes, and there were information sessions too. I remember a session on financial aid, but little else. Months later, what I can’t forget is watching the fireworks over Tech, eating strawberry donuts, and not being able to take my eyes off the mountains. I hope that helps, but if there’s something more you wanted to know, just say so, and I’ll yak some more.

Ok, now that that’s done, I’ve been thinking a lot about classes second term. So, I’ve seen a lot of discussion on the core in the Facebook group, but that’s pretty much decided for you already. Having core, however, does not mean that there’s no flexibility in the freshman schedule.

The way I see it, there’s two types of flexibility: there are classes you need to take, but you get some choice (like your hums), and then there are the extra units left in your schedule that are completely up to you. For your first term, the registrar sends you a sort of scheduling sheet that outlines your options, but for terms after that, you register for classes online.

So what have I chosen? I took Hum3B (Early Modern European History) last term as my hum and really loved it. Frosh hums are limited to about 20 people, and it was my first experience with a discussion-based history class. There was an awful lot of reading, but the prof was so enthusiastic, I didn’t mind. I’m not taking a hum this term, but looking ahead to third term, I’ve heard good things about Hum8 (Right and Wrong), a philosophy class.

Additionally, you have to take 2 frosh labs, and I took Ch3a (Freshman Chemistry Lab) last term. I enjoyed it, but the chemistry faculty is looking to completely makeover the class, and so they have introduced Ch3x this term. It’s an experimental class, in which the students will help develop a completely new freshman chemistry lab course. It was open only by lottery, and I’m excited to hear how it turns out.

Then the were the classes I had complete latitude on. I didn’t take a language last term, but this term I’m signed up for French class.

I’ve really missed French since high school, so I have high hopes for this one.

I’d like to make room for a language class every term, if that’s possible. I’m also continuing to take Ch10, Frontiers in Chemistry, better known as the chemistry pizza class. It’s a class that meets once a week to listen to research presentations by Caltech chemistry faculty, and well…eat pizza! There’s a similar class for biology, physics, and engineering as well, and I’d recommend that every frosh take one. Your freshman classes are informative and everything, but its nice to take time each week to hear about all the amazing research going on around you at Caltech.

Talking about all the classes I’m taking next term has got me surprisingly pumped for my return to Tech, which is good because my plane leaves this Saturday. I’ll be posting again before that, but once get back, it’ll mean new classes, new pics, and new frosh experiences.

Happy 2008! Happy 2009! Happy Winter Term!