SSP Behind the Scenes

It’s 10:30 pm and I’m sitting in front of the computer in the SBO. Almost done with my PSet, I am, however, baffled at what I could write my blog post about. I had chosen July 15th as the day for my blog thinking that by this time I would have enough to tell. The problem I didn’t account for was the difficulty I now have in choosing the best experiences to transpose on paper. So much has happened during the past month, so that my little story is a merely superfluous attempt at describing an usual day in SSP.

I suddenly get an interesting idea, a rather ambitious one, to be honest. By this time, I am sure the curious reader has had enough of the lectures and trips, so they would like a change of scenery. I believe that my own parents would be really interested in learning what my fellow scientists are really like. Words such as genius (Sasha), funny (Matthew – both of them), or kind (everybody) would be nothing compared to what I have lived and felt while being with these people. That’s why I decided that my blog should be a grateful shoutout to all persons present here, both faculty and students.

Starting with our beloved faculty, Dr. Dubson and his clicker question which should really be implemented in every school in the world, and Dr. Domingue and his impatience to make use of the entire alphabet when writing equations, SSP did on no account fall short of extraordinary professors. Continuing with Ms. Doyle and her “fundatory” (fun + mandatory) activites, and Dr. Furatani, who picked me up at 1:30 am from the airport in Denver, SSP completely lived up to my expectations in terms of organization. Finally, a really huge thank you goes to our patient TAs, Jessica who is the sweetest person I have ever seen (except for when you “cross a line”), Mia who has the most badass fun attitude, Peter who always has an answer (reply he confidently uses whenever I have a question), and Grace who always greets you with a kind smile when you timidly ask for her help.

The next set of shoutouts goes to Matthew Vu and Matthew Zhao, the funniest persons here, who will surely never suffer from anything related to low potassium levels, Lilah who clarified from the very first day that despite her strong British accent she isn’t British (it’s beautiful though), Nathan, the winning lawyer, who seems to have absorbed everything related to American politics, Hrishabh who elegantly creates drama, thereby wiping out any previous appearances, and Gilbert, my skilled badminton opponent, who seems to like getting locked out of his room. 

Next come Tyler and Sam, strong opponents in Geometry Dash, Siddardh and his amazing astronomical pictures, Ethan, who is apparently half Moldovan (so I suggested he listens to some Romanian music which he did), Will who graciously accepted to be everyone’s answer at Paranoia, Evan, the Iowa boy, who won the audience’s heart at Jackbox using a single word (corn), and Michelle W., who seemed really sorry for leaving me behind on a morning run (I appreciate it).

The list of fellow sleep-deprived persons continues with Kenna and the best music taste I have ever seen, Jay who, believe it or not, wrote a code which plotted Evan’s face, Elisa, who was the first student I talked to on SSP (that’s why I murdered her on the SBO deck – it was a game, she is still alive), Anoushka, who got the hold of my weird greetings and started returning them (a simple hi followed by a deep stare), and Alison, probably the most perseverent student during lectures, who takes the most beautiful notes I have ever seen. 

Next in the SBO, you’ll find Sasha, explaining different things to everybody (that boy is going to win the Nobel prize or a Fields medal someday, and I bet on this), Ameera, casually roasting everybody for their simple existence in a rather original way I must say, and the amazing dancing trio, never leaving the SBO before midnight: Maggie who for some reason associates me with Harry Styles, Ariella who wrote the funniest possible answer to a QOD, and Gabriella who has the funniest laugh I have ever heard (you probably hear that sound between 1☉ and 2☉ times every minute). I reminisce about our crazy dance on “Dragostea din tei” which would have certainly won every talent show worldwide.

Coming close to the end of the list, I’ll always remember Milenka’s beautiful voice and incredible ice skating skills (I’m looking forward to seeing you in college), weird interactions with Calista in the C4C (“That was weird” – quote by Ms. Doyle on one of our conversations), Jaile killing almost everybody in the SSP Werewolves-like game and fooling me into thinking she is 14 although one of the prerequisites was being over 15, Aruzhan who unlike me got a hotel room on her first night here and who’ll keep me company in the airport before our departure since we probably have the latest flights, and Michelle B. whom I was popping balloons with during lectures to annoy Kenna (our handshake will stay with me forever).

Next, we have the best group of four containing Ben and his insane foosball skills, Charlotte 10.0, who showed me what my real laugh sounds like, Jesus and the most memorable jokes I have ever heard, and Miranda with the most relatable mood. I will never forget intense foosball games with you, Ben’s amazing pancakes with syrup, cupcakes, late night conversations vibing on the rhythm of the music, walks, drama, gossips, bugs, banana slugs, and squirrels (which one??), explorations, jokes, everything. 

And finally, I reached the highlight of my SSP experience, my most beloved team members, Kaylah and Julius. Talks, sharing stories, observations, PSets, ephemerides, Starbucks with Mia, gossips, fancy pictures, no third wheel (mhm), music, fun, we bonded from the very first day we discovered we were teammates, and our relationship as a group fell short of nothing any teammate would desire. 

Before ending this short recollection of all my fellow scientists, my last shoutouts go to whoever I played foosball in Arnett or basketball in the pool with (the funniest thing I have ever done), or ran in the morning with, let it be the first group who was way too fast for me, or Charlotte and Miranda, with whom I turned running from a three-times-a-week activity into a weekly (regression…), but eventually into a daily activity. And now finally (this is for real), my last shoutout goes to Kaylah and Julius, who created the movie-like American moment for me while running through the sprinklers on the soccer field while listening to “American Pie.”

To all of you guys, you made this adventure beautiful!

Chilling on the SBO deck on Open House day with Jesus, Charlotte, Ben, Julius, Kaylah, and Miranda

Smoky Mountains team working intensely on the PSet (mandatory matchy hoodies)


My name is Dragoș, but people like to call me Dragos, Dreigos, Dragooș, Dragoshka when trying to pronounce my name properly. I am a rising senior at Colegiul Național Decebal, Deva, România. I love math and basically any science, except for biology, but also like to play badminton. As for my experience at SSP, I believe my blog post perfectly conveys my feelings.