40% Achieved

By: Caroline C

These two weeks have passed too quickly. When I was applying to SSP back in February, the phrase “educational experience of lifetime” on the website was definitely an eye-catching statement that made me look forward to these five weeks. Today is officially the first day of the third week here at SSP, and I have to say that these past days have been really life-changing. 

If one were to ask about my SSP memory in the future, I’m sure “challenging”, “so much fun”, “1AM stress”, and “the Soup-y Way, aka the best observing group” would be in the list of things to talk about. When I got the Congratulations email, I browsed so many online reviews to better prepare myself for the intense level of difficulty of the program. 

In the first few days, I was so so so worried about being unable to create friendships given limited online social skills. Like many other bloggers have already mentioned, the About Me presentation was, on some level, more stressful than the lectures. Yet I was surprised later by how friendly and supportive everyone was (shoutout to my dearest friends Morgan, Pablo, Hillary, Sarah W., Amanda, and McKenna !!). Each day, we struggled together on python psets, laughed at the same jokes, listened to a shared song, and planned for extended “till-3-am” work blocks after the work-play block (fun times). So, overall, I LOVE SSP days, and I can already picture myself covered with tears when at the end of July. 

When I signed up for 7/5’s blog, my initial thought was: how perfect that it’s due the day after Independence Day, and a Monday! So, I would really have plenty of time to draft a detailed blog about everything that has happened so far. Such a great decision. To write this blog, I spent almost the whole day analyzing all the past blogs. Oh, our talented SPPers, all so funny and good at writing, just like professional bloggers. The creativity of their blogs urged me to write an equally impressive one, to maintain this trend of “excellent-blogging” 👍

Today’s Briefing

Yesterday was Independence Day, and 2021 managed to let it be on a Sunday instead of any weekday 😉 Hopefully, everyone had a great time or rest well to make up for the sleep time lost (#easternSad). Today’s lecture was about Kepler’s Laws, followed by a writing workshop which was really helpful. An absolutely highlight was when Prof. A said that no one wants to read long boring scientific reports. So true!

The social block today deserves a separate paragraph. In addition to the questions provided, our breakout group also elaborated on some other “pretty interesting” ones such as “would you rather lose the ability to read or to speak?” Those 30 minutes were a lot of fun. We really went deep, even discussing the fun of shopping at Costco 🙂

Also, today’s the second time we had research group meetings, and our group has been making really good progress. Yesss Soup-y Way!!

Applications that We Downloaded for SSP

Yes, as the subtitle suggests, this section is for all the amazing software that my computer downloaded for SSP (kinda less amazing when they crash my computer). And I have to bring this up – it is so satisfying to have the asteroids’ images successfully analyzed!! I’m a person who loves manuals, not out of need but for the fun of following steps and getting to a finished product. 

Now thinking about it, this must come from my childhood love for legos – I was really excited to put those cute blocks together by following the manual. Don’t get me wrong though, *still a lego lover today*. And so sorry for going off to random topics; I’m an Aquarius and that’s pretty self-explanatory ^-^. Now going back to the software, the connection between my love for manuals and the applications rests on the step-by-step pdf. files we get as resources to properly use them. I cannot express in words how much these files have helped, like how essential a lighthouse is on a foggy winter night. 

Without further ado, let’s welcome our wonderful software:

  1. Stellarium. My favorite. Kind of hard to start at the beginning, but becomes really handy once you follow the explanation.
  2. SAOImageDS9. Have to say, what a name.
  3. AstroImageJ. Another really good app with step-by-step instructions. Love the icon.

Most Importantly, Friends and CHAMMPS

In my mind, the best and most important part always comes last. So, here we are, this section is all about my lovely friends and people who made SSP extraordinary. 

To start off, our little study group is the best, period. In fact, it surprised me how speedy we formed this close connection with each other. Our friendship started as Morgan, Pablo, and I working hard/struggling at each work-play block. Then, after my About Me Presentation, we found out that Hillary and I both live in Princeton (what a coincidence)! With the joining of Hillary’s intelligent teammate Sarah W, who helped us tremendously with everything, we formed our little discord group chat. Soon, more and more nice, great, kind (running out of adjectives here, but the idea is that everyone is so good!) people joined, we have Amanda, whose smile is always so warm, and McKenna, who is definitely the one who makes the meeting time much more fun. And that’s where the name CHAMMPS came from, credit goes to creative Hillary! I’m so grateful for meeting you all and for the fact that we all share similar interests and motivations.

Moreover, I would like to give a shout-out to our wonderful TAs, the rate of my breakdowns significantly decreased because of your help. The two times I went for help on the python pset were life-saving.


Fireworks from yesterday!

About Me

Hi! This is Caroline C, a rising senior at Stuart Country Day School in NJ. I love reading, watching movies, and singing. I have a family of four, and I have an older brother with Down Syndrome, so I’m both his little sister (physically) and big sister (mentally) 😊. I was born and raised in Xi’an, China and moved to the US when I was 13 years old. Look forward to the next three weeks at SSP!