Kickoff – Day 1 (and 2 and 3!)

It is now our third day here, and second full day of scheduled activities. We’re all a bit tired and jet lagged, but we’ve learned a lot so far. Namely, I’ve noticed a couple very important things:

  1. Ames has great bubble tea
  2. At least two Snapchat filters in Iowa have corn cobs
  3. The temptation to order out every night instead of cook for oneself is real
  4. There exist campuses so big that they have 10 different bus routes and not one, but two college towns
  5. Iowa is really green
  6. Homesickness will probably happen the first time you move to a campus farther than driving distance

The bubble tea in question

One of the many corn sightings in Ames

For someone who goes to a campus 45 minutes from her house, and 10 minutes from her dad’s workplace, going halfway across the country and staying there is a bit of an adjustment.  Saying goodbye to my parents was difficult, and my mom pointed out that this is the first time it feels as though I’m leaving for college.

That being said, thus far it’s been a fairly smooth transition, and we’ve been kept pretty busy. The first day when we flew in, we had a bit of time to unpack (most of us did, anyway), and we went out to dinner at an upscale campus sports bar. We then headed to Wal-Mart to get essentials, and probably forgot something along the way.

Yesterday was our first full-time day, and it was mostly an orientation day. We did get to play disc golf, which was pretty eventful, and take a group picture in front of the landmark that always pops up when I google Iowa State University (shown below).

Our wonderful group picture

We did have a chance to learn more about our REU, which was exciting, and in the process we learned a bit more about all of the people with a stake in this project, or the “shareholders”.

One of my roommates, Emma, and I went downtown and tried to get familiar with the surroundings – this is how we ended up finding the bubble tea and the campus store with the corn shirts (which, incidentally, had a giveaway shirt). We got a bit sidetracked while I tried to find a grocery store, but we made it back, so all’s well that ends well. The night ended with Chipotle and trying to set up the IDEs (with little success) for C++. Might just give up and use Emacs, but we’ll see how that goes.

Today we learned more about our projects, and about research itself. We got a chance to meet with some other members of our team, including faculty and grad students, and talk about the expectations for the project. I myself am on the TIMELI team, which is working on a system that will allow for quicker and more efficient traffic response.

We also got to see the gym, which was pretty amazing of course. Giant rock walls, a whirlpool, a hot tub, and the “buns of steel bridge” made for an interesting place.

We had some more adventures tonight after we left the VRAC (which is really cool by the way, as is Howe Hall, the building in which VRAC is housed), but I’ll write about them tomorrow so as to actually have some content to write about during our blog time. In the meantime, time to learn C++ and figure out what we’re doing for our research project.

Till next time,


Not the best picture, but I thought I should put a picture up of Howe Hall after mentioning how great it is

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