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Scholar Highlights For Week Ending June 14, 2013

September 5, 2013

Arches in Mosque Cordoba, Spain


Fortunately, my last week here has been better when it comes to making friends and meeting new people. Last weekend I went out on Saturday with a group of friends from all over. We went to the park to play basketball, got food, ate free ice cream in the city center and went out later that night. It was a fun experience to see the city with new people from all over. The interactions I had with this group was very positive. They were very open and accepting of our cultural differences. It was cool to meet new people and experience the city in a different light.


Kevona and flowers


This week was quiet hectic in that they were a lot of things to do in the laboratory. I have gotten a better concept of what to do and how to do certain things but it is still quite confusing. I have knowledge of organic chemistry and very little knowledge of chemistry in general so as you may have guessed it is very confusing. On top of that you add the language barrier and it becomes extremely challenging. However, this week in total was great and I appreciated every moment of it. 


On Wednesday June 12, 2013 I have arrived at Johannesburg International airport and my experience so far has been stressful. The people are not as kind as I had expected.  Some whistled which was odd. One employee that I was talking to about America referred to African American men as the “n” word. This gentleman said “… so, how are the [n-word]?” and I was in complete shock in addition to being upset. I explained to him that we do not just walk around in American calling all African American men [the “n-word’]s”. He was confounded when I said this. The transmission of American media to South African sends the absolute wrong message of the majority of African Americans.


Coleman jumping in the air on the beach



I’ve only been in South Africa for two days and it already feels like I’ve learned so much! When I first left America my parents were reluctant to say good-bye but fortunately no tears were shed.  Once I waved from the security check-in, I could feel a rush of freedom I would have abroad.  


I have officially survived my first week in Spain and I think that Salamanca is truly amazing. I think I really like it because it reminds me of so many places in one. An area reminds me of New York, while another reminds me of scenes in Italy that I have seen in movies like Redtails and a few more feet and I have walked into la Plaza Mayor! It is simply breathtaking. After being chauffeured around by my fellow labmates as I mentioned in my last reflection, the city was mine for the taking.


I don’t believe myself to be a shy person, but I am also not very outgoing when it comes to making new friends.  Fortunately, everyone in the program is very nice and inviting.  I felt a little uneasy when I first arrived in Costa Rica, but once I got to the hotel and met the instructors I felt safe and secure.  


Kalah in sand


As I mentioned last week, my supervisor advised me to take a few days as the person in charge of training me wouldn’t be in until the 13th. So, I used this opportunity to visit one of my destinations, Sydney! I had come at the perfect time because the famous light show, VIVID, only had a few nights left. This show was amazing!! On the harbour, holograms, synchronized jets and lasers were coordinated to present a wonderful performance of technology.


We took a trip to Almeria with our Arcadia group, which was about a two hour bus ride from Granada. When we initially got there we went to an animal preserve with gazelles. Afterwards we had a tour around a castle, which was beautiful, although once again I did not understand the tour guide so I just admired the architecture. Following our tour we took another hour bus ride to a small town along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. When we arrived our group went to the beach and looked around at different ethnic shops.


After my second week in the lab, I have gotten the hang of how everything works for the most part. I am amazed with how much I’ve learned in such a short time period. It is such a wonderful experience to be doing research alongside students working on their masters. Every member of my research group is a great teacher. I have learned that it is best to be taught the same procedure from several different people and then pick the techniques that I like the best. In this way, I have been able to develop my own sense of individuality in the lab that I am comfortable with.

Jasmine and castle



Well this has been quiet an eventful week both work wise and socially. First on Saturday, I met some of my co-workers and their friends at a restaurant for “tapas” or appetizers. They took me to this well known restaurant called Riazol and its is located in what they call the center of Madrid or Puerta de Sol. I got to try at least five different tapas which included squid and calamari, “jamón” or ham, potatoes in tomato sauce, fires with ham and eggs, and a tortilla  with tomato sauce. All of these with the exception of the squid were both very interesting combinations and very delicious.


In lab this week, I learned how to culture cells and carry out a protocol with mice. I am learning how to culture cells and the process will take about 2 weeks to complete. I had never worked with a cell line before so I was excited to learn more about the process. Because my [lab mate] does not speak English, I thought it would be a bit difficult to work with her. Surprisingly it was very easy to work with her and I enjoy it!


I have been practicing with my data collecting machines and playing around with them on plants around the office to become comfortable with how to work them and take notes on the differences between photosynthesis on plants outside and plants inside.  Thursday was the big day for me we went out into the wetlands again and I was able to take my first real measurements and photosynthesis.  I believe I a collected a lot of good data to report on.  Today at work I will be downloading the data I have collected and begin analyzing what is going on for the beginning of my research paper.

Jasmine, Marlissa, Kevona, DeShawn

Jasmine, Marlissa, Kevona, DeShawn


Although I have only been in Spain for less than two weeks, this particular week consisted of many challenging situations that I was faced against.  Failure has allowed me to acknowledge my mistakes so that I may be more efficient in throughout my actions.


As for the research aspect, we always completed our interviews in the morning before it got hot, walking from home to home interviewing outside our interviewees home. Out of the 10 women we interviewed, not one woman refuted participation in our study. Many women were excited to help and stated there was no problem because we were students and eager to learn.  I am quickly learning that most of my preconceived notions about rural South Africa were wrong.

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