Thursday, June 30, 2011
Today in class, we learned about an important concept in economics known as the Marginal Propensity to Consume (MPC) and the multiplier derived from it. We can find the multiplier with a simple formula, but the tricky part is figuring out MPC because everyone has different opinions. We also covered the consumption function, investment spending, and inventories. Mr. Coleman handed out a worksheet on the MPC and consumption function, and he explained the answers after we finished. At the end of class, we continued watching Blood Diamond, which we will finish next Wednesday.
Our homework assignment is due tomorrow so I worked on it when I got back to my dorm after lunch. I finished the homework, but right now, I have four of my macroeconomics friends in my compact, single room reviewing the questions. Our group prides ourselves in being extremely diverse, with all five of us speaking a unique language. I love that our study group represents the diversity that is found at Brown. Three girls are from other dorms so they are frantically working to make it back before curfew. We are being quite loud with our studying, but we will quiet down soon as our floor mates are heading off to bed.
I need to get more sleep. As much as I try, I can never sleep earlier than midnight, giving me less than eight hours of sleep as I have to wake up at 7:45 AM for class. Class is not boring at all, but I sometimes feel weary from my insufficient amount of rest. Occasionally I will try to nap but very shortly. I know that college will be like this too, probably even more exhausting. I don’t plan on sleeping much in college, and I will cherish sleeping in on the weekends. Speaking of sleep, it’s time for bed.
The first lab began with incubated white blood cells from the previous day. The first step of the lab was to isolate the DNA by degrading the proteins that surround the DNA—cell membrane, nucleus—and bind the DNA—histones, methyl groups, and epigenetic proteins. This involved centrifuging to separate proteins that are cut by an enzyme added to the DNA. Protein collected at the bottom of the tube, and the liquid above the protein pellet contained the DNA from the white blood cell. Then to transfer the DNA from the solution, ethanol is added and the DNA is moved to another tube to be prepared for incubation and then a protein analysis, which is Protocol 3.
Unfortunately, my DNA was not visible in the ethanol solution; instead of proceeding to the incubation, I had to follow the procedure used to separate the plasmid of transformed E. coli cells from an enzyme solution. This included centrifuging the tubes—I made two tubes when I was adding the ethanol because the TA thought I did not put enough ethanol to precipitate the DNA—then pouring off the excess liquid and waiting for the liquid to dry. I was successful in salvaging my DNA, but I will not know whether I purified my DNA today.
Simultaneous with the lab purifying my blood, I also had to purify bacterial DNA as I noted above. Often I found myself at an impasse because both of my labs steps were conflicting. I followed the same steps as the supplemental steps: I had to follow in extracting DNA from white blood cells, but I added solutions in smaller quantities.
Even though I was rushing to get the timing in sync, I enjoy learning how to purify DNA, and as Ms. Hall noted, purifying plasmid is a powerful asset for someone who wants to work in a lab and get paid.
After class I was fortunate enough to study with my amazing group mate by the name of Erin Miller. We studied and did intense work on our tedious homework assignment. It is great that Brown has so many places for studying. We were in a large room all by ourselves, and this allowed us to optimize the work we did. It was good to work with someone on this homework being that it was very tedious. I feel that we about mastered the assignment so I sense a check plus coming our way.
After studying Erin I talked to my friend Milani Lyman who is at Columbia. We discussed some similarities and differences in our programs. Also we talked about our experiences so far and what we think of the East Coast. It was great to converse with a fellow Ivy League Connection member at a different program. By talking to her I felt that I too was immersed in “the city that never sleeps” at Columbia University. Even though I have never visited, from what Milani tells me it is a great college. I will have to do my research to further wet my appetite for this college.
A lot of the lab procedures are new and challenging for me. I worked under sterile conditions for the first time, and our teacher congratulated our lab group on not contaminating our solutions. Today, I felt really good about the lab. I followed the procedure stringently, and was one step ahead of the game. I finished early, but I was afraid that I had ruined my results.
Afterward, I studied extremely hard with my friend. I read many science articles and prepared myself for the quiz on Friday. The class is very challenging and it is fun, but we have not experienced many lectures. This embodies the practicality of this field and shows the necessity of skills in the lab. Science intrigues me more because of these experiments. The lab work at Brown is much more difficult than that of the classes at Pinole Valley.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Today, I experienced the miracle of coffee. I felt very fatigued this morning thanks to a combination of the strenuous exercise and late night floor meetings. A nice cup of coffee (with a lot of cream and sugar) perked me up back to life and I found that I could function much better in class.
The work in macroeconomics is very past paced. Today, Professor Coleman discussed inflation and interest rates. He passed out two worksheets today which proved to be very helpful as I tried to understand all of the new concepts of the day. Instead of making sure that everyone understands what is going on, Professor Coleman is focusing on getting through the all the material he plans in his lectures. His worksheets provide us with repetitious examples. It is easier for me to learn with all of the practice problems. They help me find patterns in the material before I actually grasp the main concepts. As we went over the worksheets in class, I kept having a strong pang of success whenever I would get a question correct. The practice tests are always a great help in understanding economical intuition. The key to economics is to try not to overthink things.
After class, I saw Erinn in the Science Library as I started my east coast college search. Before the Ivy League Connection, I had only considered applying to colleges in California. This program has definitely opened my eyes to new opportunities. I thought that I would never like the east coast. Truth be told, life here is an adventure. Some top choices included Ithaca College and Rochester Institute of Technology. I will also apply to Brown University. I feel at home here.
I love getting mail! I received two letters from my friends and a package of wristbands. Keeping contact with people at home is critical for college life. Hand-written letter are even more heartfelt.
After a nacho lunch, Rachel and I explored the campus again. This time we scaled all six floors of the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. There was a lot of bizarre furniture and we admired the simple paintings on the interior walls. I am glad that Ivy League schools like Brown have a strong appreciation for the arts. I enjoy that the buildings are open for students to enjoy them as well.
The best part of my day had to be the African Dancing Activity on Lincoln Field. Sam, an RA, led a group of thirty girls in fast paced African-style dancing for about an hour. The steps were difficult to get down, but we stumbled through a few basic moves. By the end of class, I could do two of the five dances. I continued to practice them throughout the day (including dinner, on the way to the dorm, between Frisbee throws, and in various hallways). I hope I will not be sore from dancing tomorrow.
I attended an International Relations seminar in the bottom floor of Salomon Hall. The featured speakers talked about the importance of learning a new language. I was interested by all the travel opportunities that IR students have. Instead of French of Spanish, they encouraged us to learn different languages like Arabic or Chinese. I cannot see myself speaking anything other than English and broken Spanish, but I may take up another foreign language in college.
I called a lot of people back in California today. I talked to my brother (who went to Yale last year with the ILC) and three of my friends. I told them how much I enjoyed the east coast and the program I was in. I encouraged them to go outside and be productive because the days will seem longer and summer will be worth it. The summer program at Brown has taught me to take advantage of where I am and what is available to me whether it is eating with new people in the dining hall or researching college guides in a bookstore. I have become more sociable and personable through this program. There is nowhere else I would rather be this summer.
I had a nice experienced phlebotomist. She saw my veins and drew my blood. Some students were not so fortunate, and someone had three trials to find the vein. I think that was why I was tensing up: I know that I am probably fine, but there is a doubt, such as what happened with the three trials, that they will spill my precious blood. I heard that for the program “So you want to be a Doctor?” students were to draw their own blood. So I thought, “I can see my arm tensing up, my muscles twitching and my hand was shaking—no, I could never draw my own blood.” Luckily, it was quick, and I am not too dizzy from the “large” amount taken out (“large” being 6 ml of blood).
Working with my own blood was tenser than taking blood out. I would never get another chance to analyze my blood, and I would not want to remove the blood that is keeping me alive. There is also an attachment to the blood I am working with; it is a part of me so why would I want to waste it by having an error that would ruin my results. I would also be unable to find out what my chromosomes would look like, which I have been looking forward to the entire class.
Ms. Hall also understands the attachment to blood. Since mammalian cells cultivate longer, Ms. Hall wouldn’t allow students to set the culture because the culture would not show up if containments entered the petri dish. We were able to handle some of our blood when we separated the white blood cells from whole blood. Tomorrow we will extract the DNA from the white blood cells and see our DNA.
In a more melancholic note, none of my E. coli cell cultures worked. I assumed that since I only chose petri dishes of the same solution, which I concluded to include both of the antibiotics because none of the cultures grew colonies. This does mean that some of the cultures were viable, but the results indicated that there was no transformation. I don’t know if anyone else got transformed bacteria, but it just confirms that transformations are rare.
The class is getting more intense, but I enjoy these labs. I am learning the skill and if I fail every lab, I at least know the technique so I can recreate it at my high school.
I have missed home-cooked meals over the past two weeks. While fancy restaurants and dorm food are satisfying, nothing compares to the food I eat at home. Craving a familiar taste, I went with my friend Dilene, who coincidentally shares the same last name as me, to Shanghai Restaurant. The food was delicious and was a nice break from the average, everyday dorm food. We also met another girl from China there called May. We discovered that we all live in the same area even though we have different length programs. At night, I went to see Brown’s playing of the Catfish with Erinn, Erin, and Kristina. After that emotional thriller, I’m ready to wind down and go to bed.
For some reason, this week, in contrast with last week, has been flying by. I carried through the entire day thinking today was Tuesday, only to be astounded that it is actually Wednesday. I’m saddened to think next Friday will be our last day of class. I feel like I am so adjusted to Brown and can’t imagine leaving. I cherish every moment I’m here and look forward to tomorrow as always.
At the end of class we received our first homework assignment back. The teacher’s grading rubric was as follows: a check plus meant for the most part you mastered the covered area, a check meant you attempted but you missed a couple of key ideas, and a check minus was you did not do it completely. Erin and I’s group received a check plus and we were exuberant, our short term hard work paid off, this means that our long term hard work will pay off as well. I did not ask Kathleen what mark her group recieved, but I am quite certain it was a check plus as well.
I think this lesson speaks to a large area of life, that what you sow is what you shall reap. This philosophy is embodied by the ILC. Because we all worked hard, invested our time and perservered through various trials we were all selected to the highly esteemed Ivy League Connection program. But we did not stop there, in our respected cohorts we work diligently and collaboratively, so that now in a classroom with people from all over the world at Brown University we all stand out as phenomenal students. So as we all work hard we can achieve our goals. So I know that there is some competition in the ILC for the Presidential candidacy but the United States will need several quality Presidents in the future. So I am sure that not only myself but any other Ivy League Connection member can become President of the United States if we continue to hold near to us the work ethic we had to get us to this point.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
In class today, we turned in our homework and broke into groups to work on final projects. My group (with Jose and Andrew) came up with the issue, “The California budget deficit can be eliminated by decreasing spending.” We still need to research and take a side, but we split up the workload so that we all have equal amounts of work. I am in charge of presenting the background information about the budget deficit as well as creating a handout for the class to follow along with.
After Professor Coleman’s two hour lecture on unemployment, John the TA took over the class and reviewed homework. I wish that I could have my homework in front of me as we rocketed through graphs and logical definitions. It was hard to remember all of the specific problems that we were going over. I tried my best to keep up in my book while John’s speedily went through about twenty homework questions. Class ended at an early 11:15AM, so I had time to nap after a quick waffle brunch.
College life has a lot to offer. In addition to the academics here at Brown, there are also a lot of extra activities. Erinn and Kathleen had been raving about this full body workout program in Sayles Hall. I met up with them with Steph and we all endured an hour of strenuous exercise. Our instructor, Anthony, had warned us that the workout would burn. I have a feeling I will know what he meant in the morning. My arms and legs feel like jelly right now.
Our macroeconomics class met up again at 7:00PM to watch “Blood Diamond”. Unfortunately, there were technical difficulties and we were unable to finish the movie. Perhaps we will finish it up during the week.
During my stay at Brown, I have kept a healthy balance of work and play. It is very important to get all the homework done before going off to play Frisbee in the main green. There are a lot of resources to take advantage of at Brown when it comes to studying. There are several libraries on campus along with various study halls and empty classrooms. There is always somewhere to go.
I am learning how to manage my time while also getting enough sleep. I compensate my late nights with afternoon naps once in a while. Of course, there are some people on my floor that do not get enough sleep. For example, my floor mate Steph is very asleep on my bed as I type. I will have to wake her up soon to reclaim my territory. I have learned the ropes at Brown University, and for the remainder of my stay I plan to use them to keep my balance.
Tomorrow, we're preparing to extract blood in the morning. I'm excited, because I've never had blood extracted before. We're going to use the blood to extract our own DNA. Tomorrow, I'm going to drink plenty of liquids so that my blood is extracted easier.
I don't want to leave Brown anytime soon, it is a lot of fun here.
We divided into groups last week in our macroeconomics class, but we decided on topics for our group projects today. My group consists of me, Emily, Ellen, Johnny, and Thomas. After much deliberation, we narrowed our pick from BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries to just China, allowing us to examine one country’s economic growth in more depth than we would have with four countries. China’s economic development is also very relevant to our current society. Our topic statement was “Globalization is the driving force in China’s economic growth”, but we have yet to take a side. We are presenting on Wednesday so we have a little more than one week to complete a quality PowerPoint and presentation. I’m confident our group can accomplish this.
We covered chapter 8, which was on the different types of unemployment including frictional, structural, and cyclical, and reviewed the homework due today. Unemployment is a concern because without jobs, people don’t have the income to consume, leading businesses to fail and lay off workers, which increases unemployment and leads to a downward economic spiral. After two hours of lecture, our TA, John, came in and reviewed homework problems for the remaining hour. This assignment was slightly more difficult than the first and required more thought put into each question. John clarified our uncertainty and helped me better understand the material.
We were supposed to have a movie night tonight to make up for the class we will miss next Monday due to the Fourth of July. Instead, we had a brief night with half an hour of Blood Diamond before the screen retracted and the DVD stopped playing. John tried to fix it with no luck so we had to postpone the movie. This was terribly unfortunate because the movie stopped at a cliff hanger, leaving me at the edge of my seat. I guess I will have to wait for another day to finish the intense movie. Hopefully we will resume watching it tomorrow.
We also prepared a culture of E. coli cells. It was not a long process to prepare, but it took a long time to get the cells to the ideal culture density. After getting the ideal density, we had several treatments of CaCl and then incubation to prepare the cells for transformation—this preparation increases the efficiency of the transformation ten-fold because it neutralizes the negative membrane. With the incubation the DNA is facilitated into the cell.
In the continuation of our lab from the previous day, we transformed some cells with our generated recombinant DNA. It was a long process with a lot of waiting. I am concerned if the cells will have grown by tomorrow because I would have to start the lab over, which is the equivalent of one day plus whatever we would be doing the day I reconstruct my culture.
Later in the week, we will get to see the results of our transformation and test whether or not our transformation was successful. We will test the cultures by pipetting antibiotics into the cultures. The plasmid encoded for antibiotic resistance, so to be successful the transformed cells should survive in an environment with antibiotics. Before we test our cultures, we will be analyzing our own blood samples.
As I stated in my previous blog I was not too clear in the difference between nominal GDP and real GDP. But today I uncovered the difference, Nominal GDP is the total GDP without regards to inflation, whereas real GDP factors in inflation and hence is a more accurate and comprehensive calculation.
Also today I was able to clear my mind by going to the athletic facilities that Brown has to offer. The sporting complex was amazing, and it was quite fascinating to see all that they had to offer. It felt good to acquire some physical exercise after so many hours dedicated to strengthening my mind. I had never been in a gym with so many athletic, yet brilliant people at the same time. It was quite an experience that I think you could only acquire in a college setting.
Tonight all of the macroeconomics students will watch a movie pertaining to economics with our professor. It should be interesting to interact with the professor for the first time outside of the class room setting. I am truly pleased with the student to professor interactions at Brown. Many of the RA’s and Brown alums mentioned that predominantly all of the professors at Brown love to talk and just hang out with the students. They build great relationships to the point that some professors have sign-up sheets for students to babysit their kids, or just stop by their house for dinner. As a perspective student this really is enticing to me.
Monday, June 27, 2011
After a weekend of shopping and relaxation, class resumed today. I look forward to class every day because of my interest in the economics. Mr. Coleman taught us the definition of GDP, how it is calculated, and the difference between real and nominal GDP. We also learned about inflation and prices relative to that of a base year. The most interesting topic discussed today was the average life satisfaction of a country. Mr. Coleman showed us a graph comparing different countries’ average life satisfaction to their GDP per capita. The question that arose was: how do people measure life satisfaction or, in other words, happiness? This stirred up some debate over the credibility of this study. From the graph, we could see the positive correlation between satisfaction and GDP. However, I think that happiness varies from one person to the other so this sort of study might not accurately represent an entire country’s perspective.
This week is going to be busier than ever, starting with today. After class, I went to the Rockefeller Library with a study group, including Erin, and we spent time finishing homework and comparing our answers. The workload is not overwhelming but enough to keep me busy. There are always events going on to fill up the free time that we have. I went to a special WaterFire show after seeing a Polyphony Ensemble play at a church tonight. The ensemble, which included two 10-year-olds, was amazingly talented and inspiring. I love classical music so it was refreshing to hear the harmonious blending of the piano, violins, cello, and flute. We are planning on seeing the famous WaterFire in Providence this weekend with Ms. Larson, but today, the city held a smaller event that included a torch procession and fire juggling on the river. What a sight it was to see the torches combine and rows of fire being lit.
The many fun activities that our RAs plan balance out the hard work we have to put into studying and homework. I have learned that college is all about balance, or in economics terms, equilibrium. It is up to us students to find our own equilibrium. Education is the most important aspect of school, but we also need to incorporate social interactions into our lives at school. I look forward to tomorrow as always.
While we waited for the electrophoresis process to finish, we started another lab. We used E. coli, which smells terrible, and I learned how to finger vortex. Disregarding the book's instructions, we used a mechanical vortex. The book's method didn't work that well. I liked the lab, but it went over time and I missed the beginning of lunch.
Fortunately, my good friend Jason waited for me at the lunch room. I ate a filling lunch, then went to hang out for the rest of the day. I bought a disc, which I use to pass most of my time. Starting tomorrow, I'm going swimming in the athletics center.
Tips to other ILCers:
If you usually drink a lot of water, you should buy yourself a pack so you won't be dehydrated throughout your trip. I find myself buying a lot of soda/orange juice/water. You'll save money.
For laundry, put dollars into the vending machines and press "coin return" to get quarters.
Bring playing cards.
Pack lots and lots of socks. Socks are indispensable. Most necessary things in the world.
At Brown you can swim laps for free, so Brownies should bring swimming suits and stuff.
After I ate dinner with Erinn and Kathleen, I met up with Paul Tran from the partnership dinner and his friend Arlando Battle who is currently concentrating in Visual Arts at Brown University. We met in the Rockefeller Library and we talked for about an hour and a half. Arlando told me about his experience at Brown and all the obstacles he had to overcome to fit in at school. We discussed the fierce competition in the Visual Arts. Both Paul and Arlando told me to have an open mind when entering college. People change all the time because in the four years you spend in school, you will grow into your own person and your interests will change. I am willing to learn anything as long as I am in a college environment.
Mikalei, my RA in room J-007, gave me and a group of girls directions to the First Baptist Church. Jacqueline Newcomb from the partnership dinner (Office of Continuing Education) had invited us to the Polyphony Ensemble and we were having difficulty getting to the church because there are about five churches on campus. We finally got there to enjoy classical music (violins, cellos, flute, and piano) performed by teenagers ranging from age 10-17. It was inspiring to see that young people are dedicated to create something beautiful like classical music.
Afterward, we went to Water Fire. Water Fire is a huge event in Providence. It is an inspiring event that brings together the people and visitors of Providence to behold a spectacular fire show. Basically, city officials carry torches from the First Baptist Church to the Waterplace Park down the street. They put their torches in a huge fire pit and then a guy on a boat floats over, grabs some fire, and juggles it with skill. I smell like smoke right now, but it was definitely a sight to see. For those who did not know what was going on, the Water Fire ceremony looked a little creepy.
High School teachers must take account for every student including the trouble-makers who might play with dangerous material. For an example, when I was doing the 9th grade biology frog dissection, I saw students go against the teachers warning and play around with the frog. Some students even tried throwing dismantled limbs at their friends. Then there is the scalpel; fights are known to break out, and if a fight were to enter the biology class when students were dissecting, then there could be a stabbing. Teacher doesn’t want to deal with the chaos of getting everyone’s attention, so the easiest way is to choose labs that don’t require more than common sense.
Instead of telling students that they cannot perform this action because of potential danger, college professors assume students understand the safety procedures—these students have been accepted into a prestigious school, so there is no need to explain to them what they already know. In the Biomedical lab, every student is careful; any small mishap could result in: 1. they could get cancer, 2. they could get sick with an incurable disease and 3. a poisonous solution could flow down the water drain and infect the entire ecosystem. I know what could happen and every little spill is like “I am going to die!” or worse “I am going to kill the person next to me!” Professor Hall knows this too. She says she won’t instruct us until we care about what happens. Every time, we come to her and ask questions—I think it’s working.
I like the freedom of teachers trusting students. I get to explore more and experience an actual lab setting devoid of a teacher reminding me every few minutes, “and don’t forget this...” Once I get back to my High School’s biotechnology class, I must be considerate of the rules: no flames and no dangerous chemicals. So I will enjoy the freedom of being an adult for the next two weeks, and then anticipate until I can be an adult again.
Tonight there is a college informational session run by the RA’s of the program. Because for the most part, the majority of them recently went through the rigors of the college application process, they will answer any of our questions and give us information regarding this process. I look forward to gaining as much information as I can so that not only can I better myself, but I will be able to bring this information back to my church, school and community. Throughout this trip I have gained so much information pertaining to college and I am just so excited to come back to the Bay Area and share all this information that I have acquired. As I write this blog there is so much information pinned up inside of me that I am sure the majority of the people in our district do not know of. But that is the beauty of the Ivy League Connection program, it allows students to be ambassadors for thousands of people in their hometowns. That way it is not only 30 or 40 some kids gaining a tremendous amount of knowledge but potentially the whole West Contra Costa area will have the same information. So by sponsoring this small amount of gifted students, the benefits are limitless. Anyone and everyone benefits from this program, so to be part of the select few responsible for bringing back this priceless information is a true honor.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Daily mishaps include: forgetting something in my dorm and not coming back for it even though I need it, leaving my work area covered with books and being so engrossed with my studies I forget an important meet up. I need to remember I am not the only one operating at the dorm.
I have cleaned up some of my bad habits such as leaving my cell phone either off or in a “hidden” place and asking if my roommate if there is anything wrong. College is all about cooperation. If I am to be a part of the system, I must conform so then it is an enjoyable experience. At least I am learning it now when everyone is not stressed and won’t kill anything that annoys them. I wonder what would happen if I did not have such an understanding floor or roommate. Hopefully I did not disturb too many people this morning—I still have two more weeks to go.
Taught my friend how to make a waffle, and then topped it with ice cream and chocolate syrup. It was great. After lunch, I turned in my laundry to student services and took a shower.
I went to hang out on the main green with a couple of students and we partook in a recreational activity. The rest of the day was relaxing, and now I'm ready to learn again. Class recommences tomorrow.
Being at such a diverse school as Brown means meeting a vast variety of people from not just across the country but from all over the world. I realized the range of people here today when I came across an exchange student from Germany. I met Julia on the bus taking us to Wrentham Village Premium Outlets, thinking she was a Summer@Brown student. It turns out that she was a pre-med student tagging along on our shopping trip. I have a passion for linguistics so I was fascinated with her ability to speak German. She even taught me a few phrases. I might take up German in the future after I master Spanish, which I am currently studying.
Meeting Julia made me think about everyone I have met so far. In my class alone, there are 16 international students out of 31 in total. They represent countries including Colombia, China, Korea, Costa Rica, France, Great Britain, and Switzerland. In my house, I know of girls from China, Korea, Nigeria, Turkey, and India. I usually wouldn’t have a chance to encounter such a variety of students. Brown’s diversity doesn’t just come from international students. There are people from different parts of the United States, and that right there can make a considerable difference in our student body. People from Massachusetts might not share the same beliefs as those from California, and this allows us to broaden our views of opinions from people of unique backgrounds. I enjoy listening to other students share their experiences about their hometowns and their lives growing up. I hope other students can learn from me as well.
Today a new arrival of Brown summer college students came. It was quite interesting to look at their faces and their parent’s faces and see quite a bit of uneasiness and uncertainty, but to also that that was me about a week ago. It is amazing to see how much I have developed in just a weeks’ worth of time. I am able to successfully navigate myself around the campus; use my resources to help better my college experience, manage my time effectively, and lastly get out of my comfort zone, and stretch to a place that I have never known.
I also have found another trick to being a successful and happy student, and that is a balance to work and play. So even though today I felt that I was semi swamped with work, I was able to find time to play Frisbee, socialize and even watch a complementary movie provided by Brown. This enabled me to not feel stressed regarding my work load. So all in all today was a pretty successful day.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Ms. Larson came to campus today to check up on us today! It is always great to see a familiar face. We gave her a tour of the entire campus including my dorm room, V-Dub, Science Library, and the bamboo garden on Thayer Street. It was nice to have Cohort #1 together again. Of course we make new friends while we’re here, but we also keep our old ones close.
College weekends are much different than those back home. Students here sit on the grass and talk, play Frisbee, walk tightrope, juggle, and do homework instead of staying inside on FaceBook. I feel that the student body here actually does something rather than waiting for something to happen. When we are outside with people, that is when we relate more and bond. I am really enjoying the face to face socialization here. Also, Thayer Street is always there to provide endless possibilities for shopping and dining. I have never had so many options only minutes away from my living space.
I enjoy the diversity of the people at Brown. I get along very well with my floor mates, which is really important when it comes to quad pride and unity. The community at Pinole Valley High is similar to Brown in this way. As a band kid, I am very close to all eighty-six members. We get along and learn how to live with each other. We find similarities and make respectful disagreements. This is how we live together.
A bunch of the people here went on a field trip to Boston today. Cohort #1 chose to stick around campus and enjoy the smaller crowd. The rain finally stopped! Welcome back, sunshine.
I like the college environment, but I wish I knew what it was like when college students populated the school. Food is still average, and they are opening up another cafeteria on the 26th. I really love it here. The people are great and literally everyone I met has a higher SAT score than me. And mine is over 2000. I am sad, but motivated. Tomorrow I will study for Monday, and I will have lots of fun.
I really thought I was going to struggle more in the class, which I experienced in the first quarter of my AP Bio class. I was concerned that the work would be harder but, my professor discusses material, contraire to my assumption that college professors explain the concept rather than application, that I read in the book. Instead, I understand most of the book and am only confused about material Professor Hall covers after corresponding lab work is done. I do have problems with the articles she assigns because they are very dense with scientific words and proof from complicated graphs—that is just something I must overcome with my work habits. I feel that my AP Bio class, despite all the hours of sleep I missed because of it, has prepared me well for this class and for science classes in college.
My professor’s teaching is entirely different from what I have expected from teachers. She explains techniques after we have used them so then we care about what happens. I would like to know what to expect, but it does work, and I am always curious how my mistakes can be corrected.
I am surprised that my professor did not give our class homework this weekend. Kathleen, Erin and Andrew were assigned problems for Macroencomics, and there is so much biotechnology that cannot be covered in three weeks. This year it is a compact class so we have less time to get everything done, and Professor Hall has already cut some laboratory work. In my AP Bio class, we did not have enough time to cover everything in class and it was supplemented as homework. I like how lax the class is, but now I have nothing other than going to Summer@Brown events to do. I would have liked to read something because my books I brought are already finished.
One week at Brown has passed. Already? Only? I can argue both ways. I am so accustomed to life at Brown that it feels like I have been here for months. But on the other hand, one-third of our stay has already gone by, and there are only two weeks of class left. While I feel homesick, I am not ready to leave this wonderful college that I have begun to call my home.
Taking a course at Brown is unlike taking one at a high school. Because I go to Contra Costa College, the course load is not much different. However, in our macroeconomics class, our teacher teaches mostly through PowerPoint due to the advance technology installed in the classroom. Our class also moves at a fast pace so if we don’t understand something, we have to work it out ourselves outside of class. The material we cover is not difficult, but in our scarce amount of time, we have to condense the broad subject into a mere three weeks. It takes a while to process the abundance of information we obtain from each class. Our professor emails us the PowerPoint slides for each lecture. Some people will print them out, but I prefer to take notes during class and refer to the slides if I need them.
College is stricter than high school, although Brown leans to the more lenient side. Unlike in high school, students here don’t have side conversations and actually pay attention when the professor is lecturing. The students in my class are all serious about education and never hesitate to ask thought-provoking questions that sometimes our teacher can’t answer. Our homework for the weekend consists of eleven problems, but each question has multiple parts to it. I have formed a study group with some friends, and we usually go to the Rockefeller Library to do our homework. Working in study groups help me understand the material more than working alone.
For me, macroeconomics is an interesting subject. However, I don’t fancy learning through PowerPoint presentations. I’d rather our teacher lecture by writing on the chalkboard, like he did yesterday. This way, he captures more of my attention and I’m more likely to be engaged in class. Despite my criticism of how our class is taught, I look forward to class every day.
Breakfast was alright, they serve a similar breakfast everyday. After breakfast, I went to my class, where everyone helped each other study for the test. The interesting thing was that the test, in addition to biology, was on faces and names. It was a great way to force students to learn each others names.
The test was much shorter than expected and everyone thought it was pretty easy. After the test we watched a short science movie, from the PBS program NOVA. It talked about how your actions now affect your future generations epigenetically. For example, if you smoke a lot now, it will have adverse affects on your future children. This is because the changes you make to your body cause your body to change when you express certain genes.
Following class, I went to Toledo Pizza to get the infamous pizza in a cone. I ate and chatted with friends before going to see off one of my friends, a one-week student. He will be missed.
Afterward, I went to yoga and stretched more than ever. The yoga class was much smaller this time around. After yoga I had nothing much to do, so I napped. After my nap I walked around with my friend and we went to dinner. For dinner, we had nachos with pickles. I rediscovered my love for pickles here at Brown.
Later on, I went to watch Inception with my friend, Patricia. After Inception, I went to my dorm and napped until curfew. Tomorrow, the campus will be emptier because a lot of students are going on a trip to Boston. Nonetheless, I know we'll have fun here.
Friday, June 24, 2011
The film addressed the problem observed when one identical twin with the same genome as the other twin had a disorder. The scientists concluded that there was something above the gene or the epigene that controlled the expression and suppression of genes. One example of the epigene was the type of nurturing in a mouse—how a nurtured mouse would be calmed with higher levels of a certain chemical, while a less nurtured mouse was stressed with smaller levels of a certain chemical. Some scientists used the information that the genome is controlled by chemicals to temporarily treat a disorder or cancerous tissue. While another scientist investigated how chemicals in one generation affected later generations. I was amazed to find out that there can be something acquired from the environment that is passed from generation to generation—genes cannot, but what manipulates the genes can. It puts a new perspective on life; every mistake you make is not just limited to your lifetime but the future family you will never see.
Speaking of levels upon levels, I watched Inception tonight. I must agree that the movie has fantastic style, which leaves the viewer trying to figure out what everything represents and the significance of the order of scenes. I have already seen Inception once before tonight, but I find new lines, new actions and new scenes. I still wonder whether the top ever fell; the optimistic response is that it did fall, while the pessimistic (pragmatic) answer is that it did not fall. I personally think it did not fall and the director wanted to satisfy the audience with the wobble at the end, so then Cobb has a chance at a happy ending. I think it was entirely a dream because it was never his totem to begin with, which would alter his reality—he could have wanted that presumed dream to be a reality, then his mind manipulated the top so it would stop. He could have created his own idea because he could never have the reality he wanted. I am comfortable with both sides of the argument and enjoyed a well developed action movie.
Today in class, we deviated from lecturing from the book and instead, Mr. Coleman educated us on the recent financial crisis in the United States. This lecture was the most interesting class we have had so far. I was always curious about the economic downturn, I didn’t know much about it until today. Our teacher explained the cause of the housing crash, the role of credit rating agencies in the crisis, the Dodd-Frank bill, mortgage-backed securities, credit default swaps, stocks, banks, loans, leverage, and securitization. He also told us about the conflict of interest for credit rating agencies and how subprime loans contributed to the financial downfall. We covered a lot of material and the concepts were difficult so I tried my best to absorb most of the information.
The most intriguing part of the lecture for me was about the tulip bubble in the Netherlands during the 17th century. A bubble is a boom in the price of something followed by a rapid fall. Mr. Coleman told us that tulip prices shot up in the Netherlands until the cost of a single tulip bulb reached up to more than six times a person’s salary. People bought tulip bulbs not for the tulip itself but for the chance of selling it later as prices continued to rise. Eventually the price fell, but the fact that this extreme inflation occurred astonished me. Mr. Coleman compared buying a tulip bulb to purchasing a Mercedes car. Nowadays, no one in their right mind would do that. I find this event extremely fascinating and plan to look into it more.
At 2 PM, I went to another session of yoga with Erinn, Frank, and Andrew. This time, the instructor introduced more difficult balance poses, and I found myself struggling not to fall. Yoga has taught me better ways to stand and breathe, which I hope to apply to my daily life. After yoga, Erinn and I explored the campus and were joined by Erin on our way to Thayer Street. We went inside many interesting stores including a thrift shop, an Indian shop, and Urban Outfitters. I always love hanging out with the Erin(n)s.Erinn and I went to watch Inception in Salomon Hall at 8 PM. More students showed up for this movie than Freakonomics. This was my third time watching it so I almost fell asleep during parts of the movie. Erinn and I are still arguing about whether or not Cobb, the main character, was dreaming at the end.