Thursday, May 14, 2015

Saying Goodbye (and a couple of other things)

Goodbye 20.109.

I wish I could say that I’m going to miss you, but to be completely honest (and I’m all about honesty here in this relationship of ours), I’m rather relieved, and more than a little happy to be saying goodbye.

There were ups and downs this last semester. The downs were pretty down: namely stressful nights trying to complete homework assignments and huge reports, failing around like a newborn baby trying not to drown because I didn’t know what on earth I was doing the whole time, twisted knots in my stomach before presentations, etc. I suppose these were all part of the learning experience. Today, Shannon mentioned that it was the teaching staff’s intention to throw us into the deep end so that we could learn from our own mistakes, trials, and errors. I’d have to say that this tough-love approach is surprisingly effective. Sure, every time I was on the verge of drowning in the deep-end, I felt upset and whined a little more than I realistically should have, but now that I know how to swim (or can at least stay afloat!), I realize that I probably would have learned a lot less if I had just been spoon fed material and expectations. There is something about fighting and struggling for every inch that makes getting there so much more rewarding. I would say that if given the choice, I would do it all again, knowing that it would be worth it in the end.

In the same vein, the ups were pretty up (I don’t think this is appropriate grammar, but oh well, this isn’t a grammar class per-se): feeling the thrill of finishing journal club and group presentations, turning in the written reports at the end of each module, testing our solar cells in the solar simulator, seeing real gold nanoparticles on the TEM, etc.

I guess there is something masochistic about being in science. You have to put yourself through a lot of failure, a lot of stress, a lot of frustration, and a lot of wishing you were somewhere else doing anything else, just to get to that happy happy happy feeling of having done something right or of having accomplished something useful, or perhaps even groundbreaking.

So what I’m saying is thank you for making my life miserable for a semester, it was worth every hour of distress.

Though a lot of what I’ve said may have seemed quite vague, I would concretely say that my presentation skills have improved dramatically since the beginning of the semester. I used to get nervous before having to speak in front of people, getting sweaty palms and the uncomfortable twisting of my stomach that make sitting still impossible. But after this semester, I felt like all of the feedback from journal club I and the all of the practice that I put into both presentations has made me a better speaker, or, at the very least, a less nervous speaker. I was excited on Wednesday to go up with Tara and share our proposal with the rest of the class. The great thing is that public speaking skills like this are extremely useful in real life too, so thank you for that, 20.109.

Before I say a real goodbye and turn in my last blog post and last assignment of this entire class, I want to extend a huge thank you to all of the teaching staff and everyone that made this possible:

Thank you Noreen, Leslie, and Shannon for guiding us through these modules, for answering all of our questions, for teaching us how to be better science communicators, for bringing snacks, and for being there for us outside of just lab work too.

Thank you to all of my peers (shout out to Tara, the best lab partner ever!) for being a wonderful group of labmates, for helping with peer editing, for making me laugh, and for making it through this semester alive with me.

Thank you to all of the TAs who helped with all of the set-up, who helped us through the procedures, and who we couldn’t have done these modules without.

Thank you Professor Runstadler, Professor Samson, and Professor Belcher for giving us the opportunity to test and hone our skills in each of the three fascinating modules, for taking time out of your day to teach us what you know, for offering to talk with us about whatever, for giving us a taste of what it’s like being in biological engineering and research science.

And with that, goodbye 20.109, it was nice knowing you. 

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