The meeting was brief, but Tsien made a striking impression before Kármán's shrewd and appraising eye. As Kármán later wrote in his memoirs about Tsien:
One day in 1936 he came to see me for advice on further graduate studies. This was our first meeting. I looked up to observe a slight short young man, with a serious look, who answered my questions with unusual precision. I was immediately impressed with the keenness and quickness of mind, and I suggested that he enroll at Cal Tech for advanced study.
Tsien accepted Kármán's offer immediately and wrote a letter to Luo Peilin, one of his closest friends in China, to share with him the good news. Though Luo no longer has the original letter, he recalls that Tsien was ecstatic. With Kármán's promise secured, all that was left to Tsien were the more mundane tasks of registering for classes, exploring his new environment, and looking for a place to live.
He had time to explore the city in which he would spend the next few years. Pasadena must have been a welcome contrast to Boston and its winters. The city lay at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, in a valley of hills and orange