“Next to Normal”

Today marks Day 5 (of 8) of Exam Week. Eeek! I wish everyone the best of luck with exams regardless of where you are in your education! It can definitely be more of a high-stress time, but find comfort in the fact that you’ve technically been preparing for these exams for months on months!!

With one more academic semester coming to a close, nothing on campus is normal this time of year. For example, despite my life science concentration (major), I’ve been cranking out almost as many papers as my English counterparts! (Key word: almost) I’m blogging right now in a the most peaceful mindset that I’ve had in almost a week. My two most important papers, culminating everything I’ve learned in half a year (!), were due this past Tuesday/Wednesday. As Reid mentioned in her last blog, a lot of papers/final projects are due during Reading Period – a week when no classes are held so we have unstructured time to prep for examinations! Yet keep in mind that a lot of language classes will still meet. My Spanish class served as a paper-writing break for me!

Here’s how I’ve spent some of my unstructured time:

MCB 145: Neuroperception & Decision Making

Hands down favorite class of the semester. The material is so riveting, the teaching staff is super approachable and admirably knowledgeable! (swoon here) I’ve just really loved this class because like MCB 115 (Cellular Basis of Neuronal Function), it’s done a phenomenal job at fostering our creative thinking juices within a scientific environment. In addition to the standard lectures, all our readings are scientific articles on currently accepted/widely accepted theories. Even I am cognizant of my progress as a scientific thinker: I use to just passively read and accept information and analysis, but now, I’m actively engaged in their methods and interpretations as well as constantly demanding the authors to genuinely win me over with their hypotheses. Ah, my nerd juices are happily fizzling.

Our last class was a miracle berry party! This was my 2nd time going on a “taste-trip” because Annenberg (the freshman dining hall) offered it as a study break when I was a freshman. You ingest this fruit or tablet and it makes everything – from pickles to grapefruit – taste sweeter! There are some videos on YouTube if you’re interested in living vicariously. Not completely suggesting it, but I’m pretty sure my professor bought tablets exactly like this on Amazon. I love food and I love parties, so it was a great way to end my favorite class!

Our final project mirrored a research proposal that would be submitted to the NIH (National Institute of Health). This paper made me a little paranoid for all my other assignments because the suggested page length was 4-5 pages … little did I know they meant singled-spaced! Was hardly aware people still counted that way! But I think my affections for this class stem from the growth of a potential senior thesis idea.

Slight explanatory tangent: I believe every concentration (aka major) either requires a senior thesis or has it as an option. I’m at the very beginning of thinking about pursuing a senior thesis so I’m not super knowledgeable, but from what I imagine, a thesis is essentially your first ever 80 page baby. You hate it because it keeps you up at night and makes you cry. Yet you love it because you’ve invested your mind, heart, and time into the thing! For my neurobiology concentration, it’s not required. However for my Global Health & Health Policy secondary (minor), either a separate mini thesis is required or a chapter in the thesis.

Anyways, during MCB 145, I developed a personal interest in preferences and am sort of on a quest to explain how and why people (or animals like mice) play favorites using neuronal activity. Depending on the feedback I receive, I may want to pursue this topic for my senior thesis. That means, I’ll be looking for a wet lab to start in the spring and most likely dedicate my summer there too! All this future planning, GAH

24 hours after my MCB paper was due, my final paper for Aesthetic & Interpretive Understanding 50: Literature & Medicine was due. I used 2 books we’ve read in the 2nd half of the semester to show how one’s understanding of the temporality of death results in his/her understanding of one’s self identity. Some pretty deep and depressing material, so I was beyond elated to submit the paper! This class, fulfilling a general education requirement as well as a requirement for my Global Health & Health Policy secondary) was a lot better than I expected! With one 2-hour lecture a week (in addition to a weekly 1-hr discussion section), it wasn’t super time consuming and the synergistic perspective of literature and medicine was a refreshing way to be introduced to a patient’s (and not only a doctor’s) point of view.

As classes end, students are typically bombarded with reminder emails for review sessions from their current TFs (Teaching Fellow, typically graduate student course assistants). However, one of the best surprises from the semester happened when I got an email from my LS1a (Life Sciences 1a, a huge introductory science class) TF. I was enrolled in this course my freshman fall (omg, 2 years ago!) and LS1a still remains one of my favorite classes! Probably because I had the coolest TF! This past semester marks his fourth year TF-ing LS1a and he emailed all his past students for a reunion. He reserved a classroom in the Science Center and brought us snacks! I was so impressed by his memory because he remembered where our section was held and pretty much seems to be aware of everything going on in my life. There’s definitely not only a high correlation, but a causation between how much I like my TFs and how much I like the class overall.

 

Like Scott & Reid who took some time to enjoy RENT, I too wanted to soak up some performing arts and watched Next to Normal. Some of the characters were familiar from last spring’s Legally Blonde student production, but the tone of the musical was completely different. I was basically sobbing which doesn’t really say too much but sniffles were heard throughout the theater!! I applaud and applaud for these kids who are going through pretty stressful finals and a week of performances on top of that! I don’t like giving away too much of the plot, but Next to Normal did get good reviews!

Lastly, before I enter finals mode perpetually, another Congratulations to the Class of 2017 is in order!! You all are major rockstars. Soak in and enjoy these well-deserved, precious times. I’ll certainly remember my moment of acceptance for eternity, but I also remember the wild wave of questions that came soon after. The Admissions Office and us bloggers are all rooting for you! Don’t be too shy and join your class group on Facebook!

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1 comment

  1. Thomas’s avatar

    Great artical. Great action!

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