Tuesday, July 31, 2012

on tour part 2: pranks and shared bathrooms

My dad, aunt and uncle all went to Caltech in the '80s and lived in the same house, which I hear is the best house. Last time I visited Caltech, I was only 12 years old and was mainly focused on playing in the fountains with my sister and cousins.

This time around, it was all business. First, we went on a tour of the campus. My dad and aunt came on the tour too, so it was interesting hearing the perspectives of some alumni. Unfortunately, I don't have my own pictures of the campus because our camera broke at the beach. :(

The tour guide talked a lot about Caltech pranks. Two of the most famous pranks were the changing of the Hollywood sign to read "Caltech" in 1987 and the rewiring of the scoreboard during the 1984 Rose Bowl game to show that Caltech was leading MIT 38 to 9 when, actually, UCLA was playing the University of Illinois. My aunt commented that she must have been at Caltech during the Golden Age of pranks because both of these pranks happened when she was there.


Then, the tour guide showed us his dorm room in Dabney House, which was nice to see since most tours don't show housing. It was a single with a loft bed, desk, sink and closet, and looked like a reasonable size for a single. In the hallways, there were shared bathrooms for men and women which seemed a little too progressive.

We also went into the lobby of the GALCIT lab, which is where my dad did his graduate research! The tour guide said that it's really easy for undergrads to find research opportunities, which is awesome! He said that the SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship) program was just like real research in that the students write proposals that get reviewed, and that 99.9% of them get funded. At that point, my mom whispered to me, "Yeah, except that 99.9% of grants don't get funded in the real world."

After the tour, we went to the information session. It was interesting, the admissions officer said that as long as your test scores are between their 25th and 75th percentile you should stop trying. What he didn't explicitly say is that their 25th percentile numbers are already insanely high.

Afterwards, we had lunch with my grandma at Green Street, which is near Caltech. I loved it! The zucchini bread was so good, and the dishes we had were fresh and delicious. I thought the flavor combinations were interesting, like papaya in chicken quesadillas.

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