Friday, July 1, 2011

Seventeen in Providence

There's nothing quite like celebrating your birthday on the other side of the country. In the past two weeks, I have gotten to know a large chunk of the Summer@Brown students, staff, and speakers. We are all familiar with each other's faces on campus. We are not afraid to acknowledge each other and say hello. I have learned how to talk to, get along with, and cope with different types of people during my stay at Brown. I spend most of my day surrounded by students, and I use that time to grow socially. There are times when I sit in a circle in big groups and we all gossip and tell jokes. There are times when I play Frisbee with a smaller bunch and we chat a little between throws and catches. And then there are times when I get to talk one on one with people. I get to find out what a person is like and what they believe. I do not agree with every single thing that people believe because I do not have to. Sometimes, our conversations get really deep and emotional. Along with my academic growth, I have really learned about people. Not to be too mushy, but there is something to love in each person.
In macroeconomics, we took a tangent off of the planned curriculum to talk about what we (the students) were related to and and interested in. Professor Coleman asked us to find what were some of the biggest problems in our home countries (for international students) and states. I learned a lot about how involved other students were with their countries' politics. The Californians in the class brought up issues of the budget deficit, marijuana, and illegal immigration.

Ms. Larson met up with the cohort for lunch today. We went to a Korean buffet but we ate in front of the Science Library. It is always great to see our chaperone. She has done so much for us here on our adventures. Throughout the trip, Ms. Larson has given me great advice about preparing for college and life in general. She gave me some blank journals for writing and drawing for my birthday. I also got some birthday cards from friends back home! I love picking up mail at the mail room.
Some girls from my floor along with some additional friends brought me to a free radio station-sponsored concert at Waterplace Park (which is a mere 0.7 mile from campus). The band Young the Giant was performing. Apparently they are really popular on the east coast, but I have never heard of them. I danced and screamed for them in the front row and pretended to be their biggest fan. The music was great and the company was even better. The lead singer pulled me onstage and announced that it was my 17th birthday (one of my floor mates had told him before the show)! The band and the rest of Providence sang me "Happy Birthday". How cool is that?
Week two of Summer@Brown is over. This week went by very fast. Andrew and I are going to be working on our group project this weekend. It is nothing too big to stress out about. It is time to start my year as a 17-year-old. Watch out world.

The End of Week 2

Today ended our second week here at Brown. It was also Erin's birthday, and I'm glad she had a lot of fun.

In class-related news, we performed more experiments today. We finished off our extraction of chromosomal DNA today. We were able to put our DNA onto slides, which we will use to put together our set of 23 chromosomes. Everything is done by the eye, so there is a lot of room to make mistakes. Speaking of mistakes, I made a lot this week. My lab results were not picture-perfect, and I was disappointed with myself. When I finished the written assignments for the week, I felt very guilty. I am definitely motivated to complete the third week better than the first two.

Also in class, we had our second quiz. The quiz was much harder than the first, mostly because the material was no longer review. I was angry at myself for not knowing more of the answers. On the bright side, the class has become more relaxed, and our T.A. Itsuka played music during the lab, which was refreshing. Ms. Hall, the professor, realized that she was putting too heavy of a load on us. We packed 2 labs into 3 hours, working on both at the same time. I didn't mind much, but I'm happy she loosened her packed schedule for us.

We saw Ms. Larson today, we ordered food from Soban, a new Korean restaurant. We ate leisurely outside of the Science Library and caught up. We are all excited to spend tomorrow night watching the water fire show.

Tomorrow, I'm going on the trip to Newport and am excited to explore Rhode Island more. It's nice to have a three-day weekend to relax (and study, of course!).

Brown's Got Talent

Instead of lecturing about textbook material today, Mr. Coleman took a more interesting approach to class. The other day, he asked us to look up the most pressing economic and social problems in our own states or countries. We shared the information that we came up with in class, and because our class is geographically diverse, we were able to hear about countries around the world. I had no idea that Sweden has ridiculously high taxes, up to 50 percent income tax and 25 percent sales tax, and that South Korea has an aging population. Andrew and Erin spoke about the deficit and illegal immigration problem in California. We also discussed the growing importance of China and its concerns regarding the environment, human rights, and income inequality. I jotted this information down as it is relevant to my group project on China’s economic growth

Speaking of group projects, Mr. Coleman presented a sample project to show us what he was looking for. His PowerPoint about government involvement with banks was seven slides, but he elaborated on each point to make his presentation last twenty minutes. His example was helpful because my group now has a template to follow.

For the last 30 minutes of class, our TA, John, reviewed the homework we turned in today. This assignment was by far the most difficult and required the most effort. John clearly explained a problem on the relationship between investment spending, budget balance, private savings, and capital inflow that most of the class had trouble with.
Today is Erin’s birthday! For this special day, Ms. Larson walked over and treated us to Soban, a newly opened Korean restaurant on Thayer Street. The restaurant was packed so we ordered our food to go. We sat at a table in front of the Sciences Library and shared our experiences so far with Ms. Larson. It was nice for our group to catch up because I don’t see my cohorts as much as I’d like to anymore.
At 9 PM Summer@Brown held a talent show featuring the students from the program. I didn’t know my fellow students were so gifted. Performers included singers, piano, flute, and guitar players, a band, and a guy who recited 500 digits of Pi. Not surprisingly, “Pi Guy” took the title of first place with the most audience cheers. On a side note, my RA was one of the MCs for the show. No wonder she wanted me to see the talent show.
I cannot believe how unbelievably fast this week has flown by. Last week felt like a month; this week felt like a day. I have no idea how next week, our last week on the east coast, is going to be. Thank goodness it’s Friday though, meaning it’s time to catch up on my sleep. I’m looking forward to our three day weekend!

Lastly, happy birthday Erin!

Everyone Has There Own Issues

Today started off exceptionally great with a slew of happy birthday cheers and chants directed towards my fellow cohort Erin Miller. Many people gave her presents and kind words, things of this nature really makes Brown feel like a family and that is why I am enjoying my time here. Almost everyone involved in this program from the Dean of Brown, all the way to the students, are all very kind and accepting of all people.

Class today was by far the most intriguing discussion we have had yet. We opened by discussing the major financial/economic issues in our respective home states or countries. This also delved into the most pervasive problems in general in our places of residence. It was interesting to hear of all the problems people had from across the country and world. Because it was so interesting to me I thought that I would share the main problems of most people’s homes.

I will start internationally. 
  • In China there are extreme gaps between the rich and the poor and this creates many inequalities. Also human rights, or the lack thereof is a looming problem. 
  • In Brazil there is an inconceivable amount of corruption. Approximately 2 percent of the total GDP is unaccounted for meaning no one knows how it got there. 
  • In Columbia there is a rebel group known as Guerillas who terrorize the country via murders, thievery, and massive drug sells. 
  • In India the government is corrupt and this is impacting farmers who are being cheated out of their land. 
  • In Costa Rica about 98 percent of their money comes from tourists. But they are considering drilling for oil. This could possibly open up a new source of income but tourist revenue would be misconstrued so this is a dilemma. 
  • In Sweden taxes are unbelievably high, sales tax is about 25 percent, and income tax 55 percent (this is ludicrous). 
  • In Panama the government officials who buy public works, are the same people who provide the public works service. This is a huge problem because government officials make so much excess money, and the job is awarded based on connections and not who would do the best job. 
  • In the United States there were also some pressing issues, but they did not seem to compare to those of the international countries. 

These economic issues affect everyone in the country, so that is why I believe having a great understanding of economics will help solve other major issues around the world.
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Because it was Erin’s birthday we all celebrated with lunch.  Our chaperone joined us and this was a great treat. Also we went to a free concert in which the band Young the Giant performed. In the middle of the performance the band called Erin up to the stage and sang happy birthday to her. Her cheeks blushed, and her smile extended as far as the east is from the west when the other 500 people began to join in unison. Today was a very exciting and learning experience for me, but I believe also for everyone in my macroeconomics class.

Watching the Clock

Labs are more complicated than I had perceived them.

A large contribution to the difficulties is time management. Instead of working independently and getting it done at my own pace, I had to rely on coordinating the centrifuge with other students today—centrifuging took 8 minutes, which had to be repeated three times. I also faced problems with the cell pellet, but that would have happened nonetheless.

The other difficulty is interpreting the procedure. Teachers can tell a student, a student can ask a question, but when there is a time restraint, a student must understand. I faced this problem today because the other students at my lab bench understood one of the procedures “one drop at a time” to mean the specified amount, while I added one drop and mixed the solution. If I had followed those students I would have been done, and I wouldn’t have had to worry about meeting Ms. Larson after class. I was probably wrong about “one drop,” but when it comes to a lab that can never be repeated sometimes over analyzing a procedure could determine if I saved or ruined my experiment.

We did not make too much progress into the lab; there was a lot of waiting, and there will be more waiting. In essence, that is labwork: waiting for procedures and then waiting for analysis. I enjoy waiting and, with an example of this week, more labs can be performed during that waiting time.
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