Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day Twenty Five.

This is the night before our final presentation! I'm a little nervous to be speaking in front of 70 people, but I think I'll pull through. We finished with our presentations today, and we met with our journal club leader. She was a really good person, and I'm sad that we won't be seeing her anymore. We had some good talks about neurology, even though shes going to be a dentist. Our presentation is going to be the last one tomorrow, so I'm happy about that.

Today, after our short class, our journal club worked on our presentations. I think today was an uneventful day, but it was a different kind of uneventful. I enjoyed today a lot more than I did the other days. After we finished our powerpoint presentation, me and a couple of friends hung out. I really enjoyed getting to know these people.

After my last journal club meeting, I met up with Courtney and Susan to go to Ross in downtown Philadelphia. We walked around and I found myself a new suitcase to replace my old broken one. The embarrassing thing was having to carry it from Ross back to the dorms.

We went to McDonalds for dinner tonight. After eating, we hopped back onto the subway and went back to the dorms. I spent the night outside, socializing.

All in all, it was an uneventful night but the reason I liked it so much was because I got to know people a little bit better. The sad thing is that we'll be leaving in three days.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Days two & three w/Charles.....

Charles spent most of day two with his family in Philadelphia. Luckily, he was indoors when we were attacked by a severe storm that brought us buckets of water and strong winds, and of course, thunder and lightening. Amazingly enough, this was the 2nd time in about as many days that people in Philadelphia were struck by lightening!! I suppose people here have many lives, or are really lucky.

Nonetheless, as soon as Charles got back to the hotel, we met for about an hour and half to go over possible ideas and questions for the barrage of upcoming meetings that we had lined up for the next two days. This is a great picture of Charles working during our Princeton sightseeing time. The next morning, Charles and I walked to the 30th street station to take the R7 to Princeton. Within an hour and a half, we had transferred at Trenton to the NEC train (North East Corridor) and then transferred at Princeton Junction to the small train that takes you straight onto the Princeton campus.
As soon as Charles and I stepped onto the Princeton campus, we were in awe. I have been to several Ivy League schools but Princeton by far takes the cake! The campus is absolutely gorgeous and part of its beauty is the fact that it's removed from the big city. The campus is lush and green and graced by old buildings that have born some brilliant minds. It was almost as if you felt smarter just being there. Okay, maybe I was just feeling hopeful but check out these pictures of this beautiful campus! The other cool thing about this university and town is that it is also so quaint and cute and it just feels so college-like. It actually reminded me a lot of Cambridge University in England.

Once we were done touring the campus, we got to Hamilton Hall where we were supposed to meet Tashim, the freshman at Princeton who participated in the Journalism program two years ago. She had so many great things to say about the program and the positive influence that it had on her life. Hey, she just finished her first year at Princeton and it loving it! So, the summer journalism program looks like a viable possibility for our students. It is very competitive but incredibly academic and rewarding. The day that we were there, the guy that wrote the piece in the New Yorker with the Barrack and Michelle Obama cover, was going to be giving a lecture after we left. I will finish later...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day Twenty Three.

I am content.

We turned in our final paper today. I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off my chest. Except... now we have to work on our final presentation for our journal club.

Yesterday, we had a pleasant dinner with a few of the counselors (counselors? or the directors of certain programs) from the University of Pennsylvania, Mr.Ramsey and Ms. Crespo at the finest restaurant in Philedelphia. We talked a lot about college, what it's like and resources that are available as well as random things.

The whole day, before we went to dinner and after we came back from dinner, was dedicated to writing our paper and for that reason, we haven't been able to blog lately. However, now that we're done, we have a lot of time!

Except... our presentations are due on Thursday.

Four days in Philly w/Charles Ramsey.... Day 1: Bertha's arrival!

Where do I begin?!?
Charles arrived on Saturday morning and from the get-go, we were on a schedule. Charles arrived at approximately 7:30am at the Sheraton, at which time he called me using the hotel phone, and to wake me up! But it was actually perfect timing because Charles and I had enough time to have breakfast downstairs before leaving at 9:15am to pick up Cynthia Romo from the Philly airport and help her get settled in at UPenn for the PennCapp Program. However, I had to call Bertha's mom at 8:30am, 5:30am California time, to double check what time she was arriving at PHL. It turned out that she was actually going to arrive at 11:30am instead of 10:00am. That gave Charles and I a little more time. Actually, it was great for Charles because he was lucky enough to be get his room early. Since he had taken a red-eye flight into Philly, he really benefited from the extra time in his room to relax, shower, and relax for a while.
I had decided to call Bertha the night before in California to check in on her and to offer to meet her at the airport just to be there and to help her with her luggage. I remember what it was like for me to fly into Newark, NJ when I moved to NYC to start grad school at Columbia University's Teachers College. It totally sucked arriving at Newark all by myself and having to wield four pieces of luggage into a taxi cab all by myself and eventually get into NYC alone. Plus, did I mention that there's that East Coast humidity that we Californians are so not used to?!? Moving luggage in that kind of weather is awful. Read my blog from day one when Madeline and I helped the girls move in!
Charles and I took the R1 back to the airport, even though he had just taken it into Philadelphia a few hours before. We arrived at the perfect time because as we were stepping into the baggage claim area, Bertha called me. Sure enough, there she was, our first Richmond High student to attend UPenn! Charles and I were elated to see her and we were happy to help her with her two big suitcases and two smaller bags. We then took a cab to University City where Sky met us to help us take Bertha's suitcases up to her dorm room.
Bertha's staying at Harnwell during the PennCapp program. It's an awesome dorm, way better than anything either Charles or I had as undergrads at UC's! Bertha's dorm has a kitchen with a stove, fridge, and microwave, a living room area, and two singles and a double. Bertha ended up getting a double because she was the third girl to arrive. Of course, the other two girls snatched up the singles. It was okay though because Charles, Bertha, Sky, and I did a wonderful job in re-arranging Bertha's room. Initially, her room was cramped and there was barely any room to walk around. After putting our four brilliant minds together, Bertha's room rocked! Too bad I didn't take a picture!

After leaving Bertha to unwind and get ready for her packed day of orientation stuff, Sky, Charles, and I explored the campus after talking to the director of the PennCapp Program for a while. Charles gained a lot of interesting and pertinent information about the logistics of the PennCapp Program. Later, we went to visit the famous quad area, where Cynthia, Courtney, and Susan are all staying. Charles loved actually walking in the areas that he has seen in so many pictures and heard so much about.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Day Twenty.

We went to Jersey Shore today. The bus ride was horrendous, there was a whole lot of traffic getting there. At least the bus was comfortable.

We got there around 1 and then they let us roam about to our liking. The area was really friendly. There was a lot to do. The place reminded me of Santa Cruz in California, without the rides and with a whole lot of stores. We went to this really cool place that had a lot of candy. We bought a whole lot of salt water taffe! We went to buy fudge from this little place on the boardwalk.

We went to the beach and it was beautiful. There were a lot of people, but there was a lot of ... beach! The water was freezing cold and the sand was warm between our toes. It was great! I went into the water for a little while, by myself because the people I was with didn't want to go in with me. I was hesitant at first, because I was alone but I'm glad I did it. The water was so salty!!

After a great day at the beach, we went back onto the bus. The ride home was much quicker than the ride there. I'm starting to think that's how it always is. We got back and I did laundry because I felt like I brought home half the beach with me! While waiting for laundry, we socialized. It was really good to be able to meet more people. We joked and told riddles until Mr. Ramsey came to visit us. When he came, we went to go talk to him and sort of.. catch him up on what's been going on. It was a good night.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Last of week 3, PAACH, and a little reflection

The computer lab was down since Wednesday night, and is finally back up! Luckily, tonight's curfew has been extended due to the Philly's game we had, so I'm taking this opportunity to make a post before getting ready for a trip to New Jersey beach tomorrow.

I know Mr. Ramsey must have been eager to hear about the Pan Asian American Community House (PAACH) ever since he gave me June Chu's contact information. (Mrs. Chu is the director of PAACH). So, yesterday, I went to visit PAACH at the Arch building! After the lab ended at 4:30, I gave her a call and found out the Arch building closed at 5. I quickly ran to Locust walk, but finding the place was more difficult than I thought. No passerby I asked even had any idea what the Arch building was, so finally, I had to call Mrs. Chu again. I found out that I had actually passed it in my frantic running, but luckily, I hadn't gone too far away.

Upon opening it's huge red doors, I couldn't help but feeling nervous, since I was about to meet someone new. However, when I finally reached the PAACH office, I was surprised at how welcoming and friendly the people were. I ended up meeting 3 PAACH members in addition to Mrs. Chu, and everyone was very helpful and warm in introducing me to their organization. I had a lot of fun chatting with everyone, and although we didn't have too long to talk, I was able to learn about PAACH's various subgroups. I would still like to find out more about this community house, so I am planning to visit PAACH again sometime soon. Mrs. Chu is also joining Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Crespo, Courtney, Cynthia and I for dinner on Monday!

I actually planned to visit PAACH with Courtney and Cynthia on Wednesday, but I lost track doing my research in the biomedical computer lab. This week is the first week I've spent time there, and it's actually a great resource for finding information on the entire spectrum of medicine. I was able to decide on the topic of my paper, gather sources and articles, and most importantly, get started! I had debated for several days whether to research Crohn's disease, AIDS/HIV, or Alzheimer's. I ended up picking something entirely different: an ailment called hypomania. Hypomania is a stage of bipolar depression, and it is most famous for causing individuals to have heightened brain activity, sometimes resulting in sporadic outbursts of genius! I'll save the details on it until after I finish my paper. :)

Today was the last day of lab, and also the last day of week 3. I feel sad both because lab is over, and also because it's marking the last days of UPenn. I know for sure that I will miss this place and the friends I made here. But I also know that I will be taking valuable lessons, experiences and memories with me, which will be mine to keep forever.

Once in my Journalism class, we interviewed a previous Hercules High student now attending Stanford University. He told us that we would think we were in an entirely different world once we entered college, and I remember feeling confused at what he meant. Now I know EXACTLY what he was talking about! Here in the UPenn campus, surrounded by people from all over the globe, a new kind of culture, foreign surroundings, and a busy schedule, it feels like I am not just in a different place, but a different world. My lifestyle has changed dramatically, and for the first time, I have to take control of all aspects of living (from laundry, to 3 meals a day, to getting to all my classes, to completing my homework, to going to sleep on time, to finding my way around campus... the list goes on and on). I feel privileged to be with such a multicultured and unique group of students, and I am meeting new people everyday. Everyone has their own story and has something special to share, and through them, I gain some insight into the rest of the world. In addition to learning extensively from my labs, lectures, and journal meetings, I greatly broaden my perspectives from the student community. Many of my friends have aspirations to continue their education at Ivy League schools, such as UPenn, but many of them also plan to go abroad, to the west coast, or simply attend a small college or some place close to home. The diversity of the students and the diversity of their dreams constantly remind me that there is more than one path to success. It's just up to myself to decide which road is the most suitable and if it's the one I ultimately want to take.

But, I have to say that I'm loving the UPenn community!


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day Eighteen.

There are some problems with my "G" letter on my keyboard, so if i miss one here and there, I apologize in advance.

These past couple of days have been really something to remember. I find that I am warmin up to Pennsylvania a lot more than I was 2 weeks ago, when I arrived. I'm starting to get use to the weather. The weather today is really really nice. The weather right now reminds me of California, its breezy and it's not too sunny, which is perfect.

I know it may be a little early, but I already have a highlight for this whole trip. I'm really excited about it too. Last night, there was a thunder/lightning storm here in Pennsylvania. It was pouring and everything, it was really amazing. I went outside before it started raining because I wanted to see what it was like and it was beautiful and something to remember. The sky had a green tint and there was lightening everywhere and the thunder was so loud that it made me shake. The rain started light at first but quickly turned into a downpour. It was raining so hard, I felt like I was taking a shower outside. But that's okay, I took Courtney and we went outside to walk around and dance in the rain. I don't think she enjoyed the rain as much as I did, but we had a terrific time.

I've been starting to get use to the length of the classes. At first, three hours was a long time, but now it's not that hard. We learned about the immune system today and there was this really interesting guest lecture about autoimmune diseases. It was really interesting to learn about how things like your immune system work. The guest lecturer wasn't as enthusiastic as I would've hoped but he was really informative. I'm at my lunch break right now, blogging to you from the quad.

We're starting a new module in lab today so I have that to look forward to. After this module, we won't have lab anymore. The last week will be dedicated to preparing our presentations, which are due at the end of the course. The purpose of the presentation is to inform the other students about what we learned in our journal clubs. It's not that long, its suppose to be 10-15 minutes. I'll tell you more about that when we get to it.

I'll blog later! We're going to a Phillies game this Friday, Jersey Shore this Saturday and the King of Prussia mall this Sunday, AGAIN! I'm looking forward to it. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A wonderful weekend and the start of week 3.

First, I would like to say sorry since I haven’t been able to keep up with my daily posts. I was planning to blog yesterday, but I had a journal club meeting which I will talk more about later in my post.

Well, I guess I’ll start off by talking about this past weekend. Last week, my RC told me I had the choice of taking a tour around NYU or Columbia . In the end, I decided to pick NYU, so on Saturday morning I boarded the bus to go off on the tour of the college. However, when we finally arrived in New York , all the students were told that we wouldn’t be going on the school tour of the university. Instead, they gave us 30 minutes to go and explore the area of NYU. I personally would’ve liked a guide to show us around since all really got to do was walk around for a couple of blocks and then walk back to the meeting place. After this, we went to the Time Warner Center to get some lunch and shop for an hour. Then after meeting in Central Park, some of the RCs showed us how to get to Madison and 5th Avenue. Cynthia, her roommate, and I just sat down to finish our lunches and walked around to look at the shops. We went to the South Street Seaport to grab some dinner and I was able to buy some souvenirs. Then it was off to the bus to drive back to the campus.

On Sunday, the three of us were supposed to go to New York again with Ms. Crespo so we would be able to explore more of the city. However, we just went to King of Prussia after having lunch in downtown Philadelphia. I loved this day! It was great to get away from campus for a little bit and shop. I was only able to walk through half of the mall in the 4 hours we were there! Luckily, we're going back this Sunday so I can shop around in the other half. After going to the mall, the four of us had dinner in a downtown restaurant. It was great to have food that was different from the food offered here. Don't get me wrong. I am greatful for the variety of food there is here, but it was getting a little old. Anyways, Ms. Crespo dropped us off at the campus after getting dessert.

Yesterday was the start of the third week here at Penn. It's weird thinking that I am going to be home in two weeks. Well, the day started off with a lecture about the spinal cord. I realized that I'm starting to like the lectures more and more each day. At first, I thought was going to get bored after the first few lectures, but the topics that the class is learning about really interest me. Although it's a difficult to understand the material at times, I actually like the things I'm learning and I know I will be able to use this knowledge in future classes. Well, after a little break, we watched the movie Gattaca since it deals with chemical engineering. I thought it was going to be some boring, science movie, but I I loved it! I thought it was very interesting and I recommend you watch it. :) This day I had a journal club meeting. It was an hour and 30 minutes this time since our leader, Kate, had to deal with a problem that happened on her way to the meeting. We just had a discussion about our second article which was about the sleep patterns of adolescents (the study used 9th and 10th grade students) during school. I thought it was much easier to read compared to the first one. I also thought it was more interesting since it deals with teens. We will be meeting two more times this week since we want to get started on our presentation. Our next article is about circadian rhythms and breast cancer.

Today, there was a lecture on the sense organs. We also finished the rest of Gattaca and had a discussion about genetic testing, selection, and engineering. I thought today's lecture was pretty easy to understand plus the topic was interesting to learn about. There was a mandatory presentation to see today. It was just about college and our futures.

Well, I have to go right now since I want to think a little more about my topic for the paper. I think I know what I want to write about, but I've been trying to think of my other options the entire day. Oh and when I have the time, I'll post up some pictures from the weekend and give details about what we do in lab.

PS about dinner with my students.....

I have to add this little tid-bit because although it may seem somewhat irrelevant, I actually think it'll make a world of difference for our students if they do attend Ivy League schools. Every time the girls and I have gone to dinner, it's been a learning experience and practice in and of itself. Someone may ask me what radhiccio is, or Mahi Mahi, or provolone, or bruschetta, or arugula, or a crimini mushroom, and so forth. I had to learn the hard way how to order and behave in an upscale restaurant and I truly think that our girls are so lucky to already have had a few experiences at home and here in Philly to go out to nice restaurants.
Charles arrives on Saturday and he's taking all of us out to Le Fin-Bec, which is run by renowned chef Georges Perrier, on Monday! It's going to be a mini-celebration because the girls' final paper is due that Monday. Susan, Cynthia, and Courtney are both excited but somewhat nervous about the dinner and restaurant. They've already asked me what they should wear. Maybe they're just trying to find a reason to buy something else when they return to the King of Prussia mall this Sunday!
I just wanted to add this as food for thought and to try to guide the program a bit next summer. Many of our students are having experiences that they've never had before but that many of us may take for granted, like going on a plane! More to come....

A weekend with the girls!

In spite of the fact that the heat and humidity here has been "oppressive", as the local news station states it, I have still managed to walk around Philadelphia and get to know the area outside of University City fairly well. My boyfriend finally arrived from his week with family in Pittsburgh and Erie, Pennsylvania so it's been lots of fun to have someone else to explore the historical sites in the city with.
However, after the girls' long, long day in NYC on Saturday, we were set to spend the day doing the historic tours in Old City. Originally, the girls really had their hearts set on returning to NYC for a day of "shopping", more like window shopping considering NYC prices, but taking SEPTA and transferring in Trenton, NY to the R7 which goes to Penn Station, or just taking Amtrak were both too expensive and time consuming.
So, because I didn't want to kill the girls' spirit to shop, Sky and I decided to rent a car to take the girls to King of Prussia, the second largest mall in America, next to the Mall of America in Minneapolis, which I've been to!! The girls were beyond elated. I just couldn't believe how much our girls love to shop, or just hang out in a huge mall. We picked up the rental car in City Center, ate lunch at Johnny Rockets in South Philly, then got on the 76 West towards King of Prussia. The sitting in traffic and ride were well worth it for all of us. As soon as the girls saw the mall, they complained about the fact that we only had five hours to shop! I did remind them that they would have next Sunday as well to finish their "shopping".
At 7pm, all of the malls closed and we were off to our weekly "fancy" dinner. Since we didn't go out to a big, fancy dinner our first night in Philadelphia and thus, didn't spend all of the money for that big dinner, the girls and I decided that it would be nice to have one "nice" dinner every week where we could catch up and have fun. The food was great and we had a nice and relaxing dinner. I didn't the girls home until 10:30pm! We did have a great time just hanging out, getting to know each other better, talking about what Susan is planning on doing next year since it's her senior year, and what Courtney and Cynthia were going to be taking as far as classes were concerned.
I'm going to meet with Johnny Irizarry and he's going to give me a tour of local Latino CBO's in the area that work with low-income students who want to go to college. We're also going to a fundraiser at the White Dog Cafe on Friday night. The proceeds from the fundraiser go to UPenn's cultural programs on campus, including Casa Latina, where Johnny works.
I'm off to north Philly!

Monday, July 21, 2008

More photos

Philadelphia City hall at night! and delicious clams with pasta.

The remains of ground zero, and I guess you can say we saw the Statue of Liberty...

A HUGE toy store in NYC! and posing with Cruella

Columbia U! and Pier 17

Smiling at Johnny Rockets and the other side of Pier 17

Enjoy! I decided to take shorter movies this time, and look, they worked! I have yet to figure out how to get the longer ones up.


Huge update, and here comes week 3!

Hi everyone! Before I begin what I plan to be a long post, I would like to apologize for failing to update for such a long period of time. Lately I have had many activities that have kept me very busy, but I will be sure to recount them all in this post. Sorry to keep everyone waiting!

Secondly but very importantly, I would just like to extend my thanks to all the readers for being such great supporters of our blog. I really appreciate how you guys go through every single post and take the time and effort to respond with great ideas, suggestions, and encouragement. It means a lot for us to know you all are behind us every step of the way on our adventure... thank you!

Finally, time for the stories that have accumulated since the last time I blogged.

One of the biggest events last Friday was the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight. It was really intense (my friends and I were scared during the movie) but I must say it was amazing! There's no wonder why it has quickly become a box office hit. I feel really fortunate to have been able to see it the first day it came out, and I enjoyed it immensely. I won't give off any spoilers, but if you haven't seen it yet and you like action/superhero movies, you should DEFINITELY watch it. We were also able to see the premire of the American Teen on Thursday,also a good movie. It is a documentary about teenagers in their senior year of high school, and is expected to be released to the public later this year. Overall, I think the documentary did a good job in preserving an authentic teenage feel, instead of having it changed to something from an adult's perspective. I liked the film, but of course, I also think my own teenage life is a lot more interesting.

Although Dark Knight was in the spotlight for Friday, it wasn't the only major event that happened. After my lab, I actually went with a few friends to visit the School of Nursing, Biomedical Research, and Wharton's School of Business. We got lost on the way to Nursing and Biomed, but we were able to seek help from a passing professor. Not only did he provide us with directions, he led us on a mini-tour and told us some aspects of the Science field here at Penn. We ended up not being able to get into the Nursing and Biomed buildings because of the high security entrances, so we will probably have to call in advance next time. However, Wharton's was open, and we went inside to explore. The atmosphere was very professional, and upon talking to a few students, it seems to be a very enjoyable place to have class. The people were friendly and helpful, and there was also a convenient cafe located within the building. I managed to find the admissions office, but since they only open from 9-4 (the exact same time as my class), I have to find a day to go during lunch. I am hoping to learn more about both the world famous medical and business divisions of Penn soon!

The rest of Friday was pretty much like any other day of the week, with a normal schedule of morning lecture, afternoon lab, and journal club. I stocked up $30 worth of food from Houston's (my roommate and I were happy about the fresh supply of snacks), and also did laundry for the 2nd time. It's actually free to do laundry here!

Saturday was even more eventful than Friday. As you guys probably know, we went to New York and had a blast. I absolutely loved New York! It reminds me of our San Francisco back at home, but even bigger. In the morning, we visited a university of our choice (Cynthia and Courtney chose NYU, I chose Columbia). Although we weren't given a tour and only had about 20 minutes to explore, I thought Columbia's architecture was really beautiful, and the campus had an overall welcoming atmosphere. Before we left, an admissions officer introduced Columbia to us for a few minutes and gave us some tips on applying. One thing she said that I remember distinctly is, "it's not just about being bright and talented; we're looking for people with personalities so we can create an excellent learning environment." I really wish the Ivy League Connection Columbia group was still there when we were!

After visitng our respective colleges, everyone was driven to a mall near Central Park for lunch. That afternoon, we were allowed to explore 5th Ave and Madison St. for shopping. Although most of the shops were out of my budget (Coach, Gucci, Tiffany's & Co., Armani Exchange, Louis Vuitton, etc.), I had a lot of fun just looking at everything and being in crowds of bustling shoppers. I bought soft pretzels and typical "I <3 NY" shirts at streetside stands. At 5:30, we assembled once more to go to a harbor for dinner. There were a lot of shops and restaurants as well as a spectacular view of the river, so we were quite busy. What else can I say, my day at New York was superb! My only regret is that we were unable to see Times Square or the Statue of Liberty. Until next time, I'm sure I will go back in the future.

In the bus to and from NYC, I was able to get to know some of my classmates in Biomed, one of which an exchange student from Ghana. It was very interesting to be able to get an idea of what life is like in Africa, where I would like to visit when I am older. Surprisingly, his lifestyle is very similar to ours (he has an iPod, Nintendo, and other American electronics), and has a class schedule not unlike what we have at WCCUSD. I was really surprised when he told me in fluent English that this was his first trip to the U.S., but he explained later that English is considered a first language back home. However, despite these similarities, he mentioned that even in the major cities, poverty and third world characteristics are evident. He also commented that American cities had too little green when compared to the cities in Africa. I agree on that one! We definitely need more grass and trees in some places, but I am proud that Hercules is a very green community.

Believe it or not, Sunday got even better. Mrs. Crespo came up with the idea to take us to King of Prussia, the second largest mall in the nation! Summer Discovery is taking us this upcoming Sunday, but with a mall that big, it will take more than 1 trip to see it all! We had actually agreed the night before to just go shopping downtown and visit there historic sites, so this was a really nice surprise. We are planning to actually go on a historic tour sometime this week at night, so everything works out perfectly.

King of Prussia is only about a 30 minute drive away from our campus, so we were there in no time after lunch at Johnny Rocket. I almost fell asleep on the car ride there, but I sure was wide awake once we arrived! The mall has 2 sectons, called the Plaza and the Court. The Plaza is where most of the shops are located, and the Court is where most of the food shops are. I explored the Plaza, but since there are many shops in the Court as well, that is where I plan to walk around this Sunday. The mall has 3 stories, and is absolutely packed with every store imaginable. I really wish we had a King of Prussia of our own!

After shopping until the mall closed on us at 7pm, we went for dinner in South Philly. We walked it all off by looking through the little shops around the street, and then neutralized it by eating iced custard. I learned that iced custard is just like ice cream, but creamier and less likely to melt as fast. Both dinner and desert was delicious! We made it back to the dorms just in time for sign in at 10:30pm.

And of course, as something happens everyday, today was pretty eventful as well. In the morning, we had a lecture on the Spinal Cord, a sort of continuation from a lecture on the Brain on Friday. Mrs. Shuda wanted us to have a little variation, so we actually ended up watching a move the second half of morning class. In the afternoon, I got a good start on the final lab of the program, which I will go into more detail later on (this long post must be becoming very tedious). Our lab worksheets from last week was due today as well.

It's only a week until our final paper is due! And I can't believe we're already a day into week three. Time is moving fast!

That's all for tonight. I hope you guys like the photos and movies!


P.S. Like always, I will try to blog as much as possible. However, since the big paper is due soon, I probably won't be able to post on some nights this week.

group photo at Columbia U.

Streets of NYC!!!

Dorm birthday celebration.

More of Columbia U and "Love of Alma Mater."

Day Fifteen.

Mr. Ramsey, this one's for you.

Being here at the University of Pennsylvania has been quite an experience and it continues to surprise me with new things everyday. It's been a hard transition, coming from a familiar environment to a completely new one. I miss home a lot but at the same time, Pennsylvania has been a great experience. The class has been challenging and therefore, worthwhile. The people in the class are really interesting. I've met a few from many different places. They're all good people at heart. They're all very motivated to learn which is a good thing; it's refreshing to be surrounded by such people. The professor we have is great. I really enjoy her enthusiasm about the topic she's teaching us. Actually, all the teachers are great. Our lab person is awesome, shes very helpful and to the point. The TA's are good resources also. They teach some of the lectures too.

The campus of UPenn is really.. huge. I'm going to be blunt when I say that it's really a pain to walk from place to place. I suppose it's good exercise but it's just bothersome especially with the hot weather. I love the buildings here and the way they are. They look like they have so much history. I like how the campus is integrated into the city. Although it's hard to get from place to place, it's nice having an Urban Outfittiers right down the street.

This experience with biomedicine has been an eye-opener. To be honest, I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do when I "grow up". It's something that's been on my mind, especially being here in UPenn. Biology was one of the better classes I took in Frenchmen year; I enjoyed it more than chemistry. I think, from being here, I've been thinking a lot more about what I could do in the future. I think I'm starting to think more about medicine and biology, a lot more than I did before I came here.

Today's lecture was one of the more relaxed ones. We went over the spinal chord and it's functions, how it works and then we started watching Gattaca. It's a movie about cloning, I thought it was really interesting. After class, we went to the lab. Lab today was extra long because of some of the procedures that we had to wait for. It wasn't as great because we were sitting around waiting half the time. I sure hope that we get better results this week.

I've been running around doing errands all day. I could fill you in on all the details but I'm sure that it would just bore you (as you do not need to read about doing laundry and taking out the garbage). Yesterday, we found ants in our room! We had to clean it, it sure taught us a lesson about leaving food out.

And that concludes my Monday.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Day Twelve.

Good evening to those of you in the Bay Area and really... everyone else who's reading this blog. It's been such a long day, starting from the lecture in the morning, to the lab in the afternoon which was followed by a journal club meeting and then by a movie (The Dark Knight!!!)

Lecture this morning was super challenging, mainly because there were three different lectures that we had to stay focused on. The first one, which I thought was really interesting, was about the brain. We learned all about the parts of the brain and what they're responsible for. We learned how complicated and intertwined the brain is. The second lecture was about the differences in the brains of men and women. I thought that this was very interesting because who would've thought that we really AREN'T all the same on the inside. The third lecture was on muscle tissues. This one was the hardest to focus on. I think it may have been because it was the last one. We basically talked about the structure of muscles, what they need and how they work.

I'm starting to realize that it's not the lecture itself that's hard to understand, but I really have to focus and what to understand it. It's not a matter of difficulty, but of how much I want to put into learning.

After the super long lecture and eating lunch, there was lab. Lab today was familiar because we did a gel electrophoresis on the plasmid DNA that we've been working on all this week. We've done gel electrophoresis before and therefore, it wasn't that hard. However, the results of my gel digest was dissapointing. It turns out that my mini-prep, from the day before, didn't work as well as I would have hoped. Although this was dissapointing, I learned that I should be extra careful. One tiny mistake could've caused this failure.

We went to dinner real quick and I tried to take a quick nap before going to journal club. I don't know if I've mentioned journal club before, but my journal club reads papers about the brain. The first paper we've read was about pain and our second paper, which we just finished reading, was about the effect of a certain drug on depression and stress. I really like my journal club. We have really interesting conversations and I really feel like I understand a lot of what's going on. It's been a challenge having to read these papers, these journals, but it's been good for me. I think the second paper was way easier than the first paper, which could very possibly mean that I'm getting better at comprehending.

Now... I know you're all anticipating this. After journal club, we rushed to the quad and was on our way to watch the Dark Knight! (For those of you who don't know, it's the new Batman movie that's out). The movie was awesome and I would highly recommend it to any and everyone.

That pretty much concludes my night. I'm so tired and so excited for the New York trip tomorrow! I'll be in touch.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Great Day! :)

Well, today was another lecture from Gary Collins and Steve Olszewski. This time the two guest speakers talked about how they perform an autopsy and how they identify human remains. I felt the presentation was interesting, but a little gruesome at the same time. In lab, we isolated the plasmid DNA from the cultures of cells we grew last night. (I'll try to explain this process more in my next blog.) Since my lab group finished quickly, we were able to leave at around 3 pm. I decided to hang out with two girls from my group. We talked about several subjects, but the three of us mostly talked about school. There were several differences between our school, such as graduation requirements and daily schedule. One friend (upcoming junior from Chicago) goes to a public high school where there is a separate building for freshmen since there are so many students in each grade. My other classmate (upcoming sophomore in Connecticut) goes to an academy and the school goes from 7th to 12th grade. Both are required to take four years of PE, but the girl from Connecticut said students can choose to take PE or play sports the entire year. Also, neither of their schools offer A periods. Oh, and I was surprised when my friend from Connecticut said some of the 7th graders at her school took all the math classes offered and will be taking math courses in Yale. I thought that was amazing! We were able to watch the special screening of “American Teen.” I loved it (although it was a little tough to see since I was sitting near the front row with Cynthia. haha)! I spent the rest of the night doing a little studying.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I just tried out my new post, and for some reason, none of the photos are working this time! I'll try my best to figure it out. Meanwhile, I'm sorry for you guys having to squint at the tiny photos.


We found it! The Schlein "Arch"!!!

I think that every WCCUSD student, employee, or friend has in one way or another heard of the "Schlein Arch" but we were all at our wit's end trying to find this famous "arch". Madeline Kronenburg and I made it one of our missions, along with many other missions to accomplish in two short days, to find this famous arch and take a picture with it so we could prove that we'd found it.
As luck would have it, it was our last night at UPenn and Madeline and I had spent the day at a one hour orientation and then a one hour walking tour of the campus, aside from meeting or attempting to meet different personnel at UPenn. Did I mention that it was really hot and humid and rainy that day? Both Madeline and I felt somewhat defeated as we walked in the light rainfall on our way back to our hotels near Chestnut street.
We had just eaten dinner with the girls at the 1920 dining commons and had just said "good night" to the girls as we started walking over a footbridge towards 40th street that goes over Walnut Street towards our hotel. As I was looking down to avoid stepping into a puddle of water because I was wearing sandals, I noticed a bunch of names on tiles under my feet on the bridge we were walking over. I screamed to Madeline, "This is the arch! This is the arch that Phil is always referring to!", even though it was a bridge. However, I knew that this had to be what Phil Schlein meant when he kept referring to the "arch" that had his family's name. Afterall, even though it was a bridge, it was arch shaped!

He was right all along and I dared to doubt him. Madeline and I went up and down both sides of the bridge checking every single name on that arched foot bridge to no avail. "How could this be?", we were both wondering but alas, as we walked towards the campus, away from our destination, we noticed a metal wall titled "Generational Wall" and we knew that's where Phil's plaque must be.
JACKPOT!! Madeline and I were elated. We felt like we had just gotten the last and best piece of a scavenger hunt. "We are the champions" was floating through my head as Madeline and I made plans to have the girls stand in front of the plaque for a picture and tribute to a man who has had such a magnificent impact on the Ivy League Connection's connection with UPenn! He helped Bertha find her footing at UPenn and has been so positive in his support of our current three UPenn summer students. We all would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for the amazing gift that you have granted our WCCUSD students. THANKS.
This post is for Phil. We found it! The girls and I stopped by on our way back to the dorms after one of our weekly "meetings" at Ben & Jerry's on 40th street. Thanks again.


Time flies like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana. I can't believe it's already Wednesday of the second week!
This morning, we had a lecture as usual until 11 pm. After a light lunch, I went to lab at 1:15. Today's lab was really fun, because instead of working with micropipets and little test tubes, we did experiments involving our sensory reception. First, we taste tested various solutions of sugar to see what our tastebuds could respond to and what they couldn't. Then, we went outside, formed a circle, and timed how fast our responses were when tapped on the shoulder or ankle. The person next to me would tap my shoulder, and I would tap my neighbor, and this sequence would go on until we came full circle (same with the ankle trial). With 18 people in the circle, we were able to bring down our reaction time to a little over 3 seconds for both tests. Pretty good!
After we went back inside, everyone took a look at a dissected sheep eye, heart and brain, which was really interesting. I didn't look too long though.

I really enjoyed class today, but I think the highlight was actually going to the gym with my friends. I had quite a workout! I spent about half an hour on the treadmill on the first floor, and another half an hour lifting weights and such on the second. I found a pool on the basement floor, which I am planning to use sometime in the future. The gym was great, and I think I'll be going there very often! There is also a rock climbing wall which I am excited to try out soon.

Last but not least, here are just some photos I was unable to upload last time. It is in chronological order, from Georgetown University and Lincoln Memorial, to recent photos of my dorm. I know some photos could not be magnified in my last post, but I still do not know why it will not work. I am re- posting them here.

Enjoy! Let me know if you would like to me take a photo of something particular on campus, and I'll try my best to get it. I still have yet to take a picture with Ben.


A Couple of Days in Courtney's BUSY Life!

On Saturday, I was forced to wake up early in order to meet everyone at the gate at 8 am. In DC, we visited two colleges, George Washington University and Georgetown University. I personally liked Georgetown better. I think it's because I liked the atmosphere and felt more comfortable there. The reason also could have been because I felt a little rushed during the GW tour since we were late getting to the college. However, I must say the GW dorms were very nice! We also saw the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall.
On Sunday, I went to church with a friend on my floor, but we were 30 minutes late since someone at the church gave us the wrong time. Then, we had brunch and did some laundry. I just spent the day hanging out and relaxing. That night, we went to watch Les Miserables which was great! I always heard about how good the play is and now I know why.

It was back to classes this day. At first, I wasn't looking forward to it because I had such a great weekend, but it was a pretty easy morning since it ended at 11 instead of 12 because at 11, one lab group went over to the biomedical library for an orientation. First we had a lecture on histology, the study of tissues. Then after break, Ms. Shuda went over the paper we have to turn in which is due our last Monday of the program, July 28. It is a research paper about any disease that interests us. I have not started on this yet, but I'm looking forward to it. In class, I do not feel like one of the stronger students. It seems as if the other students in class have already learned the material. Some of it feels like review, but most of the things we are learning are completely new to me. But I guess this is what this program is for. It should be challenging me. After lab, I found out I had a journal club meeting at 6:30. So before that time, I went over the article with a friend in my group. I felt very confused about the article, but during the session our group leader went over everything, so I feel like I understand it now. Oh & there was an ice cream social that night. It was pretty fun.
I give a shout out to my dad since it was his birthday this day! haha

This day there was an interesting lecture given by Gary Lincoln Collins and Steve Olszewski and they talked about forensic pathology. First, Mr. Collins talked about what forensic pathology is. Basically, they help determine the cause of death. Then, Mr. Olszewski showed us pictures from 7 cases they had and he explained how they were able to determine the cause. I was very interested during the entire lecture. However, I do not think this is a career option I'd like. The pictures were a little disturbing for me and I don't think I would be able to look at those cases everyday. Tomorrow, they will be back for another lecture. I'm sure I'll like this presentation as well. I decided to tie-dye a white shirt I bought on sale and I found out I got a package. It was from my family and it came at the perfect time, since I was starting to feel a little homesick. Cynthia, Susan, and I also met with Ms. Crespo to talk a little over some ice cream.

TODAY (Wednesday):
Today, Ms. Shuda lectured about microbiology and then one of the teacher assistants, Grace Lee talked to the class about nervous tissue. I felt a little lost during today's lectures, but I'm sure if I just read over the chapters in the book I will soon understand the concepts. After class, it was my lab group's turn to go to the library. We found out a few things about the library and the librarian showed us a couple websites we should check out to help us with the papers. In lab, we had to set up overnight cultures. This didn't take too long, so we had other activities to do in class. The group looked at the brain, eye, and heart of sheep. We also had experiments dealing with taste perception and nerve impulse speed. I had a lot of fun since it was more than just measuring different substances like we normally do.

Well, I have to go now since I have a journal club meeting soon!

Day Ten.

Hello marvelous readers and I apologize for the lack of blogging these past few days. Not only have I been extremely busy, my computer crashed and I'm in the process of fixing it. I only have a few precious moments to fill you in on all the amazing things that has happened.

The last time I blogged was about the DC trip on Saturday. Sunday, although we weren't suppose to have anything planned, was also a very busy day. Sunday was the only day of the week that we were allowed to sleep in. I took advantage of that. My roommate and I woke up and we ran around doing errands until me and Courtney had to go to Les Miserables. I thought that we were suppose to meet for the play at 7 but it was really 5. Imagine how suprised I was when I found out. I had to rush to my room and change really quickly and rush out to the front. The walk to the subway was a long walk. I remember wanting to fly there. We finally arrived at the theater and we took our seats. The play itself was amazing, the actors were really good and they had amazing voices. The plot was amazing and the way they did their scenes was impressive. Courtney and I didn't have dinner beforehand so we had a quick Wawa run after the play, which was barely satisfactory. BUT the play was worth it.

These past couple of "school days" have been really hectic but easy at the same time. Though that may seem hypocritical, it's true. We've been getting out of classes early because every lab group has to go to the library to learn how to use the resources on a different day. Our lab group went yesterday, so now we've been getting out of classes early. Their library is really nice and they have a lot of resources which we can use for the major paper thats due at the end of the class.

The classes have been really challenging, still. Yesterday, we had a guest lecturer that talked about forensic pathology. They told us about what people in that field do. They basically investigate the causes of unnatural deaths. They showed us these grotesque pictures of dead people. I can still imagine them if I tried, they were really gross. I've decided that I can't become a forensic pathologist when I grow up. Today, we learned about molecular biology and nervous tissue. The molecular biology lecture was about E coli and bacteria. We talked about the way E coli chromosomes and the way it mutates. We talked about how they multiply and how plasmids work. It was interesting when she was explaining it but I may have butchered the explanation. The lecture about nervous tissue was harder for me to understand. We talked about how neurons worked and the different parts. We talked about how they transmitted signals and whatnot. It was hard to understand because I thought it was a simple thing but it's so much more difficult then I thought it was.

After class, we always go to lab. These past couple of labs have been really tedious. We've been stuck with these procedures that take forever to do. It's been really rewarding to see the result, but the process is hard! I really like our lab teacher and assistant, they're really cool. They care a lot about the experiment and they aren't really easy all the time, but they teach us a lot. The goal of this week's module was to subclone an Aurora Kinase (Aurora C) into pEGFP-N1, which is a green florescent tag. I like how they incorporated things that we learned how to do last week into this lab but they also taught us new things. The concept is completely new to me, but I'm starting to make sense of it. I feel like the lectures don't really correlate to the labs, but at the same time, I'm learning things from both. I like the labs beceause they're really interactive and I learn best by doing things. I'm also really glad I was put into this lab group because I've met some really nice people.

Yesterday, we went to go tie-dying. It was really fun, I tie-dyed a tanktop I got. I went with my roommate and we met up with Courtney. We met new people and it was really fun getting to tie-dye with them. We commented on each other's methods and exchanged thoughts. It was a good time. After tie-dying, I went to get ice cream with Susan, Courtney and Ms. Crespo. We talked for a little while and then we returned to the campus.

Today, after lab, me and my roommate went grocery shopping! (But only for the complete necessities that the dining halls don't offer like.. good fruit and vegetables.) Afterwards, we came back and indulged in a good meal while watching Justice League on Youtube.

Again, I apologize for the lack of blogging. My computer has been acting up (which is really bad for me! I need it for work!) but I'll getting it fixed shortly. Until next time!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Marvelous Tuesday!

Today was a good start to my second week here at Penn. This morning, we had guest speakers from the Philadelphia medical examiner's office, and they gave powerpoint presentations on the type of work they do. Gary Collins and Steve O explained how they determine types of death, and the various procedures they take when someone dies within the city limits. On Thursday, they will return to tell us in detail how an autopsy is performed. Although some of the presentation was really gruesome, it was ascinating as well (like real life CSI!). Haha!

In the afternoon, we continued a lab to transform a bacteria called E.coli. Tomorrow, we will get our results, and hopefully we will have successfully transformed the bacteria and have made them antibiotic resistant.

I'll blog some more later, the internet is having problems again.


Monday, July 14, 2008


Dancing at the Friday party! Ice cream at ben&jerry's.
Use this for the bus/subway.

We went to Urban Outfitters,
which is near our dorm. Thanks
for visiting us, Mrs. Kronenburg!
Smoked salmon breakfast.
Shrimp/crayfish tail fettucini.

First weekend!!!

Sorry for not updating or blogging for so long. It's really hard for me to blog on Fridays and Saturdays, because the computer lab closes before I can get back from class and other events. I'll try to make up for it by making this an especially long post. I have to tell you guys all about my weekend; it was absolutely spectacular.

But before we get to the weekend, I'll recount with Friday's events. Summer Discovery has mandatory events on Fridays and Saturdays, and every Friday, they have for us planned movies to watch at a theatre by the campus. We were able to choose from Hancock, Wall E, Get Smart, Hell Boy, and Wanted. I chose the last one, and it was amazing; it was one of the best movies I've seen in a while. I don't know what I am planning to watch this week, but I hope it will match up to how good Wanted was. When we got back that night, new interns who were moving into the quad had a party with a DJ and everything. Us Summer Discovery kids joined in the fun.

Friday was also the day we wrapped up the electrophoresis lab I mentioned earlier. Basically, electrophoresis is a process where we load dyed DNA solutions into a gel, and run the gel through an electric current for a set amount of time. At the end of electrophoresis, we can see by the dye where exactly the DNA stopped running, and we use the band patterns to identify the sizes of the DNA. I won't get too much into the specifics, but we basically used this process to to identify what our blood type was (different band patterns signify different blood alleles). This is a versatile experiment, and there are many other usages for electrophoresis, such as analyzing crime scene DNA. I found that my blood allelles are A and O. Thanks to 2 years with Mr. Hudson, I was really prepared for this part of the lab. Last year we did electrophoresis quite a few times.

My room mate and I went to sleep early that night, because we wanted to have energy for the DC trip. We ended up being groggy the next day anyways (but ended up getting a lot of sleep on the bus).

We woke up on Saturday morning at around 7 am, and met with everyone in the Quad at 8 am. We had 5 buses to choose from, but we were required to stay in whichever bus we chose for the entire trip. The buses were really roomy and comfortable, but they also had the AC on high. I took a nap and ended up getting a sore throat when I woke up (it's okay, I feel normal now). Next time I'll know to bring a sweater with me onto a 3 hour bus ride. DC, however, was burning hot. I look sweaty and red in all my photos!

We visited 2 universities: George Washington and Georgetown. GWU was great, as it was in the center of the whole city with ready access to everything urban. Georgetown was slightly more isolated, but beautiful nonetheless. My student tour guide at Georgetown led us past a cemetery, and although the atmosphere was gloomy, the story he told really made us all laugh. Apparently, in the cemetery were buried the founders of the University. However, one of them had a pet turtle he loved very much. Before his death, he requested that his turtle be buried with him, and although the cemetery was meant for only the founders, his wish was granted. The turtle actually ended up outliving him for 1 or 2 years, but after the turtle died, it was buried right next to him. It's rumored that if you walk through the cemetary, you'll see the turtle's little tombstone.

After the university visits, we made our way to the main monuments of DC. We got off at the Lincoln memorial, and also walked around the Vietnam war memorial. Because we were really pressed for time, we were unable to get off anywhere else. We ate lunch at a post office and dinner at a train station, so that day was also filled with two unique dining experiences. Upon returning home, I was completely exhausted but also really loving the whole day in DC. It was an awesome trip, and I was really able to talk to and get to know a lot of people that day.

On Sunday, I took the opportunity to sleep in and recover my energy. I woke up at 11 am, and went to the Commons Dining Hall with my friends for lunch. Buffet there was better than I remembered (I've been eating at Houston Hall this whole time). I then set off for an afternoon at Rittenhouse Square; they have so many good shops, and the park is one of the most peaceful places I've been to since I've arrived in Penn.

That night I also went with Courtney and Cynthia to see the play, Les Miserables. The play was SO AMAZING! The acting was superb and the storyline was extremely interesting. The transitions between the stages and settings were smooth, and the lighting was perfect - anyways, it was great. I give it 5 stars and would see it again any day. Please ask me if you would like to take a look at the play booklet when I get back home. I loved the play and would recommend it to anyone. I heard the book was even better, so I'm planning to read it when I get the chance.

This morning we all returned to our busy class schedules. At lunch, I got a huge shock because I realized I lost my phone, somewhere between getting breakfast and walking back from class. I backtracked my steps, searched my classroom, and asked information desks and lost and founds, but my phone was not to be found. It's not a very good phone, but absolutely necessary for me to contact my dorm mates, parents, and vice versa. Fortunately, someone turned it in to my teacher, and it was waiting for me when I returned from lunch. It was quite a scare, so I will be sure to be more careful next time.

Today was a really long day. I had class from 9-4:30, and then a Journal club meeting from 4:30 - 6. I'm so tired! But it's good to be so busy and challenged.

I uploaded some photos, but blogspot is having an internal error so I'll have to continuethem some other time. The movies I have must be too long, because they keep failing to upload. I'll try my best to figure it out.

I'm off to do laundry. Until next time!


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Day Six.

Trip of the weekend : WASHINGTON DC!

This trip was so memorable. This morning, though I am ashamed to admit it, my roommate and I overslept. We rushed as quickly as possible to the bus and thank goodness, we made it. We spent a long time on the bus, though I was sleeping most of the time. We met new people, which was good. When we got to George Washington University, we were so hungry! Since we had to rush, we didn't get to eat. We arrived at the university late and the counselors realized that we had to hurry if we wanted to make our second appointment for tours at Georgetown University. We rushed through the first tour and then we rushed through lunch and we were on our way to Georgetown.

Personally, I enjoyed the campus of Georgetown better than I did the campus of George Washington (GW). I felt like the campus of Georgetown was a lot calmer than GW, but I must admit that GW had really nice dorms.

After visiting the campuses, we went to visit the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall. The Lincoln Memorial was this huge stone statue of Abraham Lincoln. The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall was very touching. The stone was really hot too, because I tried touching it. After site seeing, we hopped back on the bus and went for a quick dinner run and then we were on our way back to the dorms.

After getting back, I went running with my roommate. I'm too young to get into the gyms, but me and my roommate ran around the quad a couple of times. If you've ever been to UPenn, you'll understand me when I say that I only ran around in the upper quad and there were people there. I was a tad bit embarrassed, but exercise is exercise. Tonight was a good night.

I killed a cockroach tonight! It was gross! It was on the floor while I was running and the adrenaline pumping through my brain just made me numb to the fact that it was a cockroach. I stepped on it and kept going. Afterwards, I showed my roommate and Courtney and I was grossed out the most.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The End of Week One!

Well, we just finished our first school week here at Penn! It's been a busy week in the Biomed Program. Ms. Shuda has been giving lectures in the morning about genetics. I found it a little difficult to understand some of the material, but as class goes on, I start to get the concepts and I also ask some of my classmates.

We had a few guest speakers this week. On Wednesday, Kate Spillane came in to talk about Medical Physics. Joanne Thorvaldson spoke about imprinting the day after and Melanie Parsons Wescott gave a lecture about cancer today. Out of the three, I have to say Ms. Wesott's presentation held my attention the most. She helped the class understand everything that was going on and now I want to learn more about the subject.

Sometimes after lectures, Ms. Shuda gave us activities that had to do with the subjects we went over in class. I felt a little lost during this time, but luckily we spent a lot of time going over each question in the activities and I have a better understanding of the topics, like genetics.

In lab, we isolated our DNA from cheek cells and by today I was supposed to find out what my blood type is. However, during the week I made a mistake in measuring, so I didn't see any results. I was a litle frustrated, but Mr. Sanders gave the class a lecture and said everyone makes mistakes and we should all learn how to deal with disappointment. I thought his advice was very helpful and released some of my stress. Usually, a teacher will get angry if the work isn't perfect, but our lab instructor was very understanding especially since it was some people's first time using a pipet (including me!). But now I know the mistakes I made, and I'll be sure not to make them again.

OH! I forgot to mention. I got the journal club I wanted which was Circadian Rhythms with Kate Cecil. We met for a little bit on Wednesday and she gave us our first article. it's about the plasma melatonin rhythms in young and old humans during sleep. She also gave us a paper about how to read a research paper. I'll let everyone know how the article is going after our next meeting.

Yesterday was the birthday of a girl on my floor, so some of us went out to eat and then we went to make jewelry in the quad. At 11, our RC set up a meeting so everyone on our floor had cake and sang "Happy Birthday" to her.

Today, I met an interesting guy in Houston when I went out for dinner. I was trying to figure out what to buy in order to spend all the money on my card, but I knew I wouldn't be able to finish $40 worth of food. I went up to a group of guys and asked if they needed money, and one (from the Biomed Program) said he was buying power bars and bottles of water to give to the homeless. I thought this was a great idea and gladly paid for some of the food. What was I going to do with that much food anyway? I felt great after that. It inspired me to help those who need it.

There was also a mandatory movie night. I watched Wanted with Cynthia and Michelle. I highly recommend it by the way! Once we got back to the campus, we saw there was a party going on so we checked that out. Today was a great day to celebrate finishing the first week of class.

Well, I'm going to go now and get some sleep before DC tomorrow!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day Four.

Another blog, because I know you just can't get enough. (: Lets start out with the lecture this morning. This little snippit of news is just for you, Mrs. Kronenburg. Listening to the lecture has been made my first priority. I decided that taking notes isn't as important as the lecture, but I am also taking notes of the lecture. The powerpoints are also conveniently posted on the internet after the lecture, if I miss anything or if I need to brush up on anything.

The lecture today was super short, due to the guest speaker who spoke about genomic imprinting. I still have some unanswered questions about the subject so I don't think I'm the right person to tell you about it, but I can tell you that it was very interesting. After the guest speaker, we had our lunch break and then we went straight back into the lab. The lab today was relatively simple but as always, it's not the directions that are hard; it's the concept. I'm glad that the people in my lab group are nice.

After lab, I was so exhausted that I went straight back to the dorm and napped until dinner time. This may be ungrateful of me to say so, but the dorm food is getting a little repetitive. However, I still enjoy the freedom to eat whatever I choose. After eating, I spent the rest of the night mingling and studying hard. The activity of the night was hemp bracelets! It takes skill to be able to make these simple but cool looking bracelets and I enjoyed it.

The classes are so challenging! I find that I am studying every night, trying to get on top of my game, even though it's not required and there is no technical "homework" except for the journal club reading. I think this is a good thing. Being responsible for my own learning and not having anyone to keep me accountable has made me more aware of my time management skills. As you might be able to tell (since I'm still up at this time of night), my time management skills aren't up to par yet. Another three weeks might do the trick.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The fun stuff (some of it)

Oops, sorry guys, but I need to go to bed. Good night and please be patient for those photos!


Brains, turtles and more...

The horrible internet in my room is unbearable, but I made it to the lab and it looks like i'll be able to get a few of those photos and movies up now! Also, as promised, its time for an update on my journal club... and a little more.

Yesterday's journal club was actually really interesting. I was apprehensive at first because, unlike the other groups, we had a pre-assignment given out that morning and due by our first meeting at night. However, when I went to go meet my journal leader, she actually turned out to be a really flexible and an easy to approach instructor. Her name is Melinda, and although she is currently doing research on how turtles develop their shells (really interesting, i know... but it's okay because our topic is cool too!) she is leading us in reading 3 neurological papers. But, our session lasted 2 hours, instead of 30 minutes, and probably would have gone longer if the library didn't close on us. We did learn quite a bit through, so I guess it was worth it. We are also having 3 meetings a week instead of 2, which is pretty intense.

Don, I'll try to the make this explanation with as little scientific jargon as possible, and with as many explanations as possible! From the introduction I read, our first paper basically regards the effects of a stem cell procedure, where embryonic stem cells (ES) are inserted into a patient and eventually develop into a hormone producing neuron called dopamine (DA). A neuron is a cell in our nervous system that transmits information to other cells via electric signaling (i.e, in our brain and spine). These DA neurons are essential to the movement of our muscles, and in people infected with Parkinson's disease, natural DA neurons are defective, destroyed or missing. Thus, with this stem cell procedure, those infected with Parkinson are able to potentially have their lacking cells replaced and may be cured. The paper briefly discusses this issue and goes through the entire process of the lab performed in order to reach the results supporting this theory. I hope you guys are still with me and that it wasn't too confusing. This summary actually took me about half an hour to reach; the introduction was really convoluted and abstruse. I have the rest of the report and 2 more papers to look forward to, but figuring it all out feelings really fulfilling.

Moving on... today was great! This morning, I went to Einstein's Bagels for a cappuchino and a bagel (delicious). We had a presentation from a medical physic, and after, a review lecture on cell structure and components. For lunch Courtney and I shared a huge quesadilla, and then we returned to the lab. While finishing up yesterday's PCR and incubating our tubes for 2 hours, we investigated cardiac function and had a chance to measure blood pressure and heart rate under varying conditions.

At night, I went out with Cynthia and Courtney to the local CVS and met up with Mrs. Crespo at Ben & Jerry's. Upon our return, we found soft pretzel's waiting for us!

I think that's about it. Like Mrs. Crespo said, there was a huge storm today, and I got soaked on my way to dinner. Good thing the weather is still warm!

Movies, photos, etc coming up in the next post, if it will work.