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Summer In Seatle, Part 2!

Hope everyone is having a great summer! I know I am!  In the past month interning at Microsoft, I’ve had tons of fun outings and this is shaping up to be my best summer yet.

Luckily, Seattle is pretty close to home (about a 2 hour flight), so I jetted home to spend the 4th of July with friends and family. It was great being back in sunny Southern California, if only for a little- but since I’ve returned, the weather up here has been pretty great here as well!

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The Giant Stingrays

My Week in Paradise

Hey everyone! I hope you have been enjoying your summers so far! Ever since summer began, I have been swamped with work in the Viterbi Business Affairs Office. However, I got a nice break from all the hard work when my family and I ventured on our annual vacation. This year we decided to voyage on a cruise starting in Fort Lauderdale and making its way to Key West, Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios. I thought I would give you a little glimpse of my week in paradise!

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FluidConsultingLogoVector

Learning the IT Ropes

Hello everyone! I hope y’all’s summers are going well, I know mine sure has! I thought that I would come home to a nice relaxing summer after the flurry of freshman year, but it’s really been a roller coaster down here for me – and I’m having the ride of my life.

Last time I told you guys about my amazing trip to Germany and the Bavarian countryside, but I only briefly mentioned my internship at Fluid Consulting. Coming out of freshman year, it’s hard to find a structured internship for engineers. Most of what we use in the commercial world comes from upper level classes that we haven’t taken yet, which proved to be an interesting obstacle to overcome for me. I’ve always been interested in how the computer world and the business world intersect, and while much of IT isn’t strict coding like I had thought, this has proven to be an incredible experience for me.

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Trip to the East Coast!

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Greetings! As I near the mid-way point in my summer, I think this is an excellent time to reflect on my experience with the east coast.  Having grown up most of my life from California, I am used to the typical summer: dry heat, swimming pools, absent clouds and great company.  After living in the Washington DC / Virginia area the only thing the two coasts have in common is great company.  That being said, there are so many interesting and cost-effective activities in and around the D.C. area that most if not all states cannot offer.  Aside from my work, I have had the opportunity to visit more museums in a few weekends than I have my entire life.  There is a constant barrage of national artifacts, landmarks, and heritage in this area.  The only downfall is the humidity and rampant thunderstorms.  However, I have come to believe that you eventually become accustomed to the heat and humidity OR you accept the fact that you will sweat through your clothing.  I sadly am leaning towards the latter.  Still, for anyone not familiar with the Nation’s Capitol, I would definitely recommend the historic spots along National Mall, Library of Congress, Botanical Garden, etc.  Yet I feel the best experiences I have had result from participating in more local events:  Dupont Fresh Farms Market, Ben’s Chili Bowl, Malcolm X Park drummers, and a variety of other small niches littered along the metro lines throughout Washington DC.  I even got a chance to witness the fireworks around the Washington Monument on the Fourth of July and eat at the Gaylord Hotel, the largest hotel in the D.C. area.  Not only that, but I have met a bunch of fellow Trojans along the way!  The list includes, an intern for a United States Senator, an intern for a United States Congressman, and an employee at the Department of Justice.  For those of you who are hesitant about the Trojan Network, I have never felt a comradery like I did after meeting these people.  There is almost an instant connection between Trojans “abroad” that other schools simply do not compare to.  What better way to network than to be introduced to another individual by a fellow Trojan.  An interesting fact: Barron Hilton of Hilton Hotels was a Trojan too! Fight On and have a fantastic summer!

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I can never get tired of the beauty of Chiago.

Keeping Busy in Michigan

Hey all!!  I’m back to give you a few updates on how my summer in Michigan has been going!

Dow has been continuing to treat me well; I’m learning tons about how a huge tech consulting project is run.  It has been such a great growing experience for me, and I love that the people I correspond with on a regular basis for this project are working in Michigan, Houston, Philly, and even Brazil!  Just goes to show how global of a company Dow is, and how technology has made so easy to work with people all around the globe.

Outside of work, I continue to explore Michigan.  During the week, interns generally hang out locally – go bowling, see a movie, go out to eat, work out together, play volleyball at the local park, play football at the local high school.  On the weekends is when we have more time to venture outside the bounds of Midland.

Several places in Michigan I’ve been so far:

  • Traverse City for their Annual Cherry Festival
  • Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes
  • Camping at Muskegon State Park
  • Muskegon Beach
They were selling everything - Cherries, Cherry Pie, Cherry Jam, Cherry Danishes, even Cherry Salsa!

They were selling everything – Cherries, Cherry Pie, Cherry Jam, Cherry Danishes, even Cherry Salsa!

My friends at the Sleeping Bear Dunes!

My friends at the Sleeping Bear Dunes!

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Other interns burying one of our friends in the sand.

Other interns burying one of our friends in the sand.

Two weekends ago for the Fourth of July I went to Chicago (5 hour drive!) to visit my friend that I met at my internship last summer!  She is interning in Chicago for the summer and was living downtown, which was a really prime place for me to stay!  That weekend, we met up with another friend and hung out at the beach, went shopping at Magnificent Mile, saw fireworks, saw the set of a movie that was being filmed, went to Lincoln Park Zoo, and basically did a whole lot of CTA-using and city-walking.

Hanging out in River North

Hanging out in River North

Lookit that leopard.

Lookit that leopard.

With friends in Bucktown, Chicago

With friends in Bucktown, Chicago

I can never get tired of the beauty of Chiago.

I can never get tired of the beauty of Chiago.

North Ave Beach was way crowded on the Fourth

North Ave Beach was way crowded on the Fourth

Last weekend I hung around my apartment and felt a little craftsy, so I went to the local secondhand store, bought some old high-waisted men’s jeans, cut them and distressed them.  It kept me busy on and off for the rest of the weekend and it was fun to do while watching TV shows.  Best part?  They were under $5!

My shorts!

My shorts!

Talk to you in a bit,

Cassandra

 

My friend Jenna and I before our dinner cruise one evening.

Vacation and Vocation

As of today, it’s been exactly two months since I left USC, and the time has really flown by. I can’t believe I only have three and a half weeks left of my internship at OHSU! Since the last time I blogged, I’ve actually only had a couple of weeks of work – I spent the rest of the time on vacation in Hawaii with my best friend’s family.

My trip to the stunning island of Maui was absolutely wonderful. I really haven’t had much relaxation time since Winter Break because after a full semester of school I only had three days at home before completing the first six weeks of my internship. While I love my job, a two week vacation was exactly what I needed in order to get my mind off of school and work for awhile.

While we were in Hawaii, I had lots of new experiences! I went zip-lining for the first time overlooking the city of Ka’anapali and, of course, the ocean. I’ve never experienced anything quite like the sensation of flying along 400 ft – 1200 ft zip-lines, hundreds of feet above the ground. It was seriously cool, and I would definitely go again! Another first for me was snorkeling, where I got to see some beautiful coral and fish. Additionally, we went hiking, swam in the ocean, ate pineapples, and simply relaxed in our condo. The beach right next to our condo was packed with sea turtles, and just wading next to the shoreline put me so close to several sea turtles that I could have reached out and touched them.

After my stay in paradise came to an end, I headed back to work, feeling very refreshed. Since returning to work, I’ve enjoyed continuing to get to know the other three interns in my lab, all of whom were on the semester system and started work just before I left on vacation. It’s been fun to build a relationship with these people and learn about what they’re contributing to the lab. We’ve even gone out to lunch together!

A few days ago I bought my plane tickets to return to USC in August, and ever since then, I can’t stop thinking about going back. I’ve even started making lists of what I need to pack! I love being in Oregon, but I really miss USC. Only one more month to go!

The lab: the place I spend the majority of my time.

The Art of Science (and Summer 2013)

It’s amazing how quickly time goes by over the summer! I’m learning more and more about how stuff works around a lab.

 

I am finally doing my own work- I’m running my own Western Blots to detect proteins, I’m starting assays to measure enzyme activity, and I have my own line of cells to culture. I essentially get to work on projects, start to finish, all on my own, and draw conclusions based on the data that the lab can use for further experimentation. I love the feeling of independence that comes with that!

 

The lab: the place I spend the majority of my time.

The lab: the place I spend the majority of my time.

Doing a Western Blot, yay!

Doing a Western Blot, yay!

I’m also learning weird, fun things that I didn’t know about. Did you know that the photography method used for taking pictures of proteins is pretty much exactly like developing photos for regular photography? There’s a dark room, photography paper (which looks a little different than regular paper—it’s blue and see-through), and a machine that puts the paper through developing solution, fixing solution, and washing solution. The proteins are bound to antibodies that are made luminescent, which expose the paper and then appear when the paper is developed. I never thought I’d ever use my high school photography class skills again, but I guess you never know what to expect. There’s so much art to science and so much science in art.

 

Thankfully, I haven’t been doing science all summer. I try to travel as much as I can on weekends and when I get time off.  I went to Dallas, Texas to visit family a few weekends ago. It was three days filled with family, fun, and food (of course).  Then I went to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for my friends’ wedding. It’s a fairly small, boring town, but I stayed right by Pepsico Headquarters and Quaker Oats Headquarters. As much as I wanted to look inside, I couldn’t, since I was a little preoccupied.

 

Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

 

Eating out with friends!

Eating out with friends!

It’s been a wonderful summer so far, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store!

Enjoying a spectacular sunset on the cruise

Counting down the days…

This summer has been up and down, but I can’t wait to get back into my rhythm and feel productive again. As I have previously stated, this hasn’t exactly been the best summer. I have done some really cool stuff because of my inability to find an internship. However, this free time has also left me bored and looking forward to next year and my future.

The high points of my summer so far have definitely been the trips I have taken. In my last blog, I talked about my family trip to Point Reyes. That was really fun and it was a great opportunity to spend some time with the family. Since then, my other big trip was going on a cruise down to Mexico over 4th of July weekend. We left on Friday morning from Long Beach and went down to Ensenada, Mexico. It was neat to walk around and explore the town of Ensenada. I got bothered by one merchant who eventually convinced me to buy a sweater. We’ll see if I ever wear it. On Sunday, the ship slowly traveled back to Long Beach, and I enjoyed all the fun things to do on the ship. I rocked it on some karaoke, won $40 in craps, and ate wayyyy too much food. All in all, it was a great trip and a good way to spend the weekend.

I have also tried to get out during the week to do some fun things when I am not working at 21 Choices. One day, I drove out to  Temescal Gateway Park to hike up to Skull Rock. Skull Rock is a neat rock formation that, as its name explains, looks like a skull. It sits along Temescal Ridge and from the top of the rock, you can see Downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and out to the ocean. It was a little hazy the day I did the hike, but I still got pretty good views. It would be fun to go back there and do some bouldering with a friend on some of those rock formations. Other than the hike, I have been trying to get out on my bike as much as possible, doing rides down to Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach. It’s always fun biking along the ocean and watching all the beach bums.

I wish I could be going on more adventures, but I have been recently buckling down on grad school. I have decided that I want to pursue graduate studies in Nuclear Engineering, so I have spent time contacting graduate schools and going over admission requirements. The biggest thing for me to do right now is prep for the GRE. Like I explained in my last blog post, the GRE is the main graduate admission test. I am trying to take advantage of the lull summer I have to study for the test, so I can prepare myself well.

I am really looking forward to this coming year. Even though it will be very challenging and stressful, it will also be my last year of undergraduate studies and probably my last year at USC. I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things again and grab the year by the horns.

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Lucky We Live LA

There’s a saying back home, “lucky we live Hawaii”. Everyone appreciates Hawaii for the great place to live that it is but despite growing up in such a great place, I’ve really loved my first summer living in Los Angeles. Of course work is great and I’ve had a great time with my jobs, but I don’t think it’s enough to just like your job. You have to love where you live.

 

The difference between the summer and the school year is I’m not going to school. That probably seems obvious but it feels very different to have the focus of my life here be off campus. It feels like I’m sort of student-real person hybrid and it’s been an interesting twist on life here. The best change for me is that I’ve gotten not just off campus to the city, but out of the city to the really explore the Los Angeles area. I’m an outdoors person. I always have been. Downtown Los Angeles is not exactly a nature filled environment outside of the USC campus but it has amazed me what exactly I have been able to find outside of the city. My summer golf obsession has led me all around the city and its surroundings to some absolutely spectacular places. I played on a course in the canyons outside of city that overlooked all of Los Angeles

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Looking down the fairway to the city

I played on another outside of Pasadena that was nestled in the mountains and out there you would never be able to guess that the second largest city in the United States was only 30 minutes away.

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The mountains on a beautiful summer day

Just look at that view. The weather has been absolutely perfect this summer (and I’m from a place with some pretty nice weather). Every day is the epitome of summer and there are so many ways to enjoy it around the city.

Now I swear, golfing isn’t the only thing I have done this summer (though I have done a lot of it). I managed to make some time to take a trip to the shooting range downtown and practice one of the more fun activities out there.

Reloading the shotgun

Reloading the shotgun

Downtown I was also able to grab my absolute favorite seafood, fresh scallops to sear up later. I’ve spent a lot of time this summer working on my cooking and it has been a blast. But when I’m not cooking, there’s plenty of great food around the city to enjoy.

Destroying my arteries with this monster of a hot dog at Pinks

Destroying my arteries with this monster of a hot dog at Pinks

Finally, I spend the Fourth of July in an unusual manner. I wasn’t in Michigan like I have been for 17 out of my 20 Fourth of Julys. My girlfriend and I went to the fireworks show in Exposition Park to watch fireworks over the Coliseum and wow, Los Angeles goes all out for fireworks shows. It was the longest and biggest fireworks show I’ve ever seen and it was funded by the city. Now that’s my taxes at work.

 

Living in Los Angeles outside the school year has been quite simply awesome. All around, I’ve had a great time here and I can’t believe how fast the summer has gone. Next time I write, I will give an in depth talk about the app I’ve been working on. We released a beta build last week and are gearing up for an end of summer release!

 

 

 

Santa Monica

Seeing the Sights

Before the semester ended, I was lucky enough to receive a summer job here at the University of Southern California working with various summer conferences such as orientations, athletic camps, and academic seminars. Rather than returning home from college my first summer after freshman year, I opted to stay in the always busy city of Los Angeles to get to know my way around a little bit better. I’ve got to meet some fantastic people, many of which will be joining us next year in the Trojan Family!

During the year, although there are ample opportunities, there is not as much time to go sightseeing around the city when you have to keep up with classes, extracurriculars- you know the drill. However, I started a project this summer which involves me seeing at least one new place in Los Angeles every week. It’s part of my goal to get very oriented with the area! Coming from the Sacramento area, I’m at a slight disadvantage to SoCal residents when it comes to knowing my way around.

So far I have managed to see Santa Monica (& the Promenade), Venice Beach, Griffith Park (the Observatory, Greek Theatre, and the Hollywood Sign), Elysian Park, Echo Park, and LACMA. I am still planning on visiting a Dodger’s game (only so I can cheer on the Giants!), Walt Disney Concert Hall, Olvera Street, Malibu, and a couple other small areas around the city. I also managed to make a trip up to Santa Barbara to see my brother. Everywhere I go I get another chance to take out my camera and practice some photography- which I love!

Is there anything on my list that you think I am missing? Feel free to comment! I would love to visit a place I may have overlooked!

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