Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Coffee, the Miracle Elixer

I am still very sore from yesterday’s full body workout program. I have been waddling up and down flights of stairs all day.

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.

My Precious

I woke grudgingly to prepare for my blood extraction; I needed to drink a glass of water and be at the Health Center at 8AM. I was not nervous—I have already had my blood extracted before—but once I got to the center I was slowly tensing up.

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.

A Familiar Taste

We did not resume watching Blood Diamond in class today. Mr. Coleman did not want the movie to interfere with lecture so we plan to finish the movie at the end of several days of class instead. Today, we learned about the loanable funds market, investment spending, interest rates, and inflation. We also completed two worksheets on unemployment and interest rates. I like worksheets because they gauge our ability to apply the concepts we learn to realistic examples. Our teacher also returned our homework, which is graded on a check-plus, check, check-minus scale. I received a check-plus along with many other people. As long as you put effort into the homework, you should get a check-plus. Speaking of homework, John emailed us another list of problems to complete by Friday. That along with our group project will keep me occupied for the rest of this week.

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.

Half-way Mark

This morning, I woke up early to get my blood drawn. I woke up at 7:55 AM, and ran over to health services before 8:00. For my first time getting blood drawn, it wasn't bad at all. It came out smoothly. After the drawing, I went to breakfast at Ratty. Then, I napped for an hour.

Class started in the lab again (this week is a four-day lab). The purpose of our experiment was to extract our own DNA from the white blood cells of our blood. First, we centrifuged it to split the blood into layers. We removed the plasma part of the blood, and removed the supernatant stained with hemoglobin. What we were left with was a pellet full of white blood cells. We incubated these as a solution to break down the pellet, and left it overnight.

Tonight, we will get a visit from the Dean. He will check our understanding of what we are doing in lab. I hope we make Ms. Hall look good.

At this point, our class is half-way over. Only 1 and 1/2 weeks left.

Many Presidents reside in the ILC Family

Today’s class was pretty nonchalant in the sense that we did not discuss massive quantities of new information, rather it was a light dosage of some things most people were already familiar with. These things included assets, bonds, loans and things of that nature. All though most of the information I was already familiar with, the way the material was presented brought a new life to each faction of what we discussed. So to say the least this class is really broadening my horizon pertaining to not only economics but college in general. I came in to this class with the preconceived notion that I had a pretty good understanding of economics, but basically I knew almost nothing. So I believe this pertains to other classes I will take in college. At an Ivy League school, or a tier one school the material that you will be taught can be a totally new revelation.
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.
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