I do not even know where to start — it has been an incredible experience. INCREDIBLE. In all ways: The University of Southern California is fantabulous, Los Angeles is wonderful, and the people here are just great! I’m going to try really hard to convey how I’m feeling right now through my experiences just at USC.

 

  • I met with renowned physicist Dr. Clifford Johnson. Dr. Johnson came in to discuss quantum physics for our Intro to Physics class, and you can imagine my surprise and excitement Akash - Clifford Johnsonwhen he walked in to the room that afternoon — I had spent my entire high school life watching his rather famous videos on string theory, the origins of the universe, and the more abstract physics that I don’t even pretend to understand (or spell). Indeed, I was pleasantly surprised that he had the time to personally reply to my e-mail let alone want to meet me in person for a couple of hours! We met in between classes on Thursday at a cafe on campus and spent a long time discussing ideas over freshly squeezed orange juice (“Simply Orange”– try it!). It was an absolutely incredible meeting considering that I was meeting one of the people I had grown up trying to emulate. If there is only one memory I am allowed to keep from college, it would undoubtedly be the meeting with Dr. Johnson — and it’s just been the second month of my life at USC (Maybe I’ll keep the memory of keeping the memory so all the memories will be cached… ).
  • I discussed welfare states with my sociology professor, Dr. Dan Lainer-Vos. I have had a more than passing interest in political science and the political structures of communities. It was without question that I was going to enjoy my general education class — we studied not only politics but also the conflict of science and technology with such institutions. I spent numerous hours with my professor both inside and out of class discussing the implications of socialism, communism, and capitalism and how each ties in with the progress of society. What strikes me most about this is just how accessible the professors are — I can openly discuss my view points and enjoy defending them both in and outside of class during office hours, and the professors are incredibly happy to have me there.
  • Resonating with my happiness about the professors being super accessible and nice, I want to mention my meeting with physics research assistant Dr. Lorenzo Campos Venuti. I saw a professor’s request for an undergraduate research student on the university’s SOAR page (an online website that brings together those interested in research and those that have open positions) and e-mailed. He was on sabbatical and referred me to Dr. Venuti, whom I eventually went to meet.  Dr. Venuti was very open to explaining the kinks in quantum physics and how we can manipulate these to make advanced computers that can do incredible calculations (reduce shore’s algorithm from exponential time to polynomial time — if, like me, you looked towards the heavens in utter disbelief because that made zero sense but were awed at the same time, be sure to visit Dr. Venuti!). Although research in theoretical physics as a freshman is so incredibly difficult because of the little material covered in high school, Dr. Venuti gave me the necessary knowledge on how to prepare myself in the next year or so in order to join him or another faculty member in carrying out similar projects. That was absolutely wonderful!

I’m going to make a similar list of my wonderful adventures in the city of Los Angeles, which include trying to find the tallest building near USC, a late night exploration of Hollywood, and a rather eventful evening in downtown. Stay tuned!

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