Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More Laughs, More Fun

I woke up bright and early this morning at 6:20 AM, a little under an hour earlier than the usual time I wake up. The reason why I woke up so early was because I went with ten of my guy friends to the recreation center to play some basketball. Because of that, I've been pretty tired throughout the whole day. It's amazing how much energy these guys have.

Today in class, we read and analyzed how suffering played a role in religious practices. It made me realize the many mysteries and unexplained ways religions have. The question that was brought up was if either God causes suffering, humans cause suffering, or if the Devil causes suffering. It was very interesting, and there's no claim that can be fully proved about suffering, and what its meaning spiritually is.

We also learned how eating played a role in religious practices. Eating is for human survival, and so food is a huge part of different cultures. Healthy food and the dinner table help us to be grateful for what we have and thank God.

Later, my class and I took a field trip to the Cathedral of the Incarnation. Despite going to a Catholic church several times back at home, I still happened to find some differences. Even though it was a weekday, there was still absolutely no singing. The cathedral was huge, yet there were very few people in there. I never fully realized what total silence can do in a church--not to mention a cathedral. I also didn't realize how much Catholicism emphasizes the Eucharist. Standing and kneeling also helps to emphasize the crucial parts of mass--such as the ringing of bells.
In the van on the way to the cathedral
Grandma and Mom, I'm praying again for you guys.
Anna and I in front of Mother Mary
The girls (and Christien) in my class are all very nice. As you can see from the pictures, we're all good friends now. Too many laughs are being shared with these people, and I'm glad they're in my class. They get very sidetracked in class, but, of course, it's fine because they know when to be serious and get work done.

I also learned how to line dance a little. I figured I should do it because, well, I'm in the South. I left pretty fast though, so I only know the basics of the form of dance. Overall, today was basically a "chiller" day compared to the others--just with a lot of walking. I had the opportunity to just hang out with more of my recently made friends.

It was a great day today. There will be more to talk about tomorrow. Good night!

Friendships In VSA

Today our lesson was on the origin of drugs, and how people perceive the risk that drugs may or may not impose.Risk is all about perception, and how each person separately views each situation. There are several factors that come into play when analyzing risk. For example, factors like control, trust, new risks, and cost-benefit ratio play an important part in this. If someone controls the situation, they feel like there under little risk, however if it was that same situation controlled by someone else, that person feels nervous since they are no longer in control. A lot of the other factors also go along this way; if there is trust, there is less risk, if there is something unknown, there is more risk.

How does this translate to drugs? Well, there are several drugs people worry about too much, or even too little. For instance, people are not aware of the simple over-the-counter medicine like aspirin. Aspirin can cause stomach ulcers, which is a serious side-effect. However, many people just take aspirin without thinking about the side-effects since the benefit of getting rid of your pain seems higher than the side-effect that can happen. People usually think about this in a “this can’t happen to me” way and therefore don’t perceive such things as harmful or risky.
After this lesson, we all had the chance to teach a section in our textbook to the class. The section I had was about teratogens, a drug or chemical that is harmful to an embryo and will cause birth defects. I think teaching in front of the class is a great way to speak out and have a taste to what it is like to be teacher. The students and professors also asked me questions and discussed about what they thought about the subject. Class went by a little slow; nonetheless, I still learned a lot.
Anna and my roomate Meera!
ArĂȘte class was really great today since we actually got to spar each other with the sabers (swords). I did very well if I do say so myself since I beat the first couple persons I sparred. Even so, I lost my last round. I hope we get to spar with more people tomorrow!
Tonight, we had this cool ‘event’ called S.O.F.T Night, which stands for sign out free-time. During this time, everyone can sign out to cruise around town for about two hours. Although it is not as long as I’d like, I still had a lot of fun. I hung out with a bunch of my new-found friends in Sweet CC’s and the nearby CVS. Sweet CC’s had REALLY good frozen yogurt and I hope I go there again.
At Sweet CC's
(Left to Right) Alexa, me, and Sara
After S.O.F.T Night, I ended the night with my friends and we played card games, guess games, and other sorts of games. Overall, I’ve had such an amazing day today with all my friends. Making new friends is what these summer programs like these are for; you want to make new friends to make new connections, and ultimately learn from them.

A Change For The Better

I have always loved reading mysteries; the way they entice the imagination is simply thrilling,  and they give me an indescribable rush. I revere writers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for their intellect and skill because writing a mystery story is not a simple task. I learned that today in class when we were assigned to create our own mystery from a set of clues our teacher gave us. I sat in my desk in utter despair staring at the clues, trying to force my illogical mind to put all the pieces together in a way that is difficult to figure out, but makes sense once the secret behind it has been revealed. Creating a complicated character like Sherlock Holmes, who perceives the world in such a unique way and is able to deduce cases with such precision requires one with a very organized mind, which is something I lack. However, I am slowly ( but surely) starting to understand the elements of a good mystery by reading several stories and studying the genre in more depth. I believe that I will be able to create my own thrilling mystery by the end of my time here at VSA. 

My classes here have already began to change me in such an immense way. I feel as though my writing is gradually improving with all the practice and reading I have been doing. These daily blogs, coupled with my daily writing assignments in class are aiding me in my quest to polish my writing skills. Words are starting to flow in a much more organized matter than before, so I know my class is helping to organize my mind. 

I have also become much braver, thanks to the Vanderbilt Summer Academy. Today I did something I have never done before: sing in front of people. I am a very shy girl, which is strange because I am on my school's Speech and Debate team. However, public speaking is completely different from singing in front of perfect strangers. Yesterday, I couldn't even speak to the people in my group. I was so nervous about singing in front of everyone that I even asked my proctor if I could switch classes. When she informed that I could not, I grew despondent and locked myself in my dorm room pondering how I could get out of this situation. I texted a cousin back home (whom I am very close with) and she told me to "just suck it up and do it!" I told her that was easier said than done, so she sent me an inspirational video to encourage me to face my fear. Well, I did it. I sang in front of the whole class today, and no one booed or muttered negative comments under their breaths, so I guess I wasn't as horrible as  I thought I would be. 

I am also meeting new people everyday here at Vanderbilt. In fact, I met some new people today. We met at lunch and we instantly clicked. We got along so well that we decided to spend the free time together. We explored the campus and went to Ben and Jerry's for some delicious treats after. Then we came back to the dorms and just hung out. 

I am starting to feel like an actual college student now. Being in such a academic environment is encouraging me to expand my knowledge and skills in any way possible. I am trying new things and facing my insecurities. Vanderbilt is allowing me to become a stronger and better person. 

New Concepts, New Friends

Every morning has become a routine already. My breakfast was okay, because unfortunately my so-called “toasted” bagel was hard. But I had some hash browns and fruit to fill my stomach. I then headed off to another session of class.

Our morning session of Pharmacology was not as much fun due to a lot of lectures. I think lecturing is an important part of teaching, but I wanted to do more discussions and interactions with other students. The first part of the lecture was on the topic: Risk-Benefit Analysis. It discussed how society has benefitted from science, but how there are risks. For example, people who are used in the clinical to test drugs are at risk because of the unknown consequences, while society at large benefits if in fact the drug is successful. The three things that effect the perception of risk is: dread/fear, control, and choice. Each perception of risk depends on the person.

We then had another power point presentation on where drugs come from. Drugs come from: plants, animals, sea creatures, mold, minerals, soil, bacteria, and synthetics.  It was interesting to learn that Insulin comes from beef and pork pancreases. 8000 pounds of pancreases equate to one pound of insulin! It’s crazy how drugs are made from animals, and I wonder if vegans who take Insulin know that! I also learned a fun fact that there are more marijuana dispensaries than Starbuck cafes in Colorado.

We then had lunch, but I didn’t really enjoy my meal.  I usually doubt Asian cafeteria food, and I was right this time. It didn’t taste too good, so I wasn’t really satisfied.  On a brighter note, we headed back to class and did something a little more interesting. In groups, we each read a section in the drug book and then taught the class what we read. My group read a section about teratogens, which are drugs or agents that cause birth defects. I learned that even x-rays and viruses could cause birth defects in pregnant women. Even more so, if the father of the child takes drugs or drinks alcohol before he knows the mother is pregnant, the child can also be born with birth defects. That's why couples should be very careful. Additionally, we discussed the felonies and punishments of those who take illegal drugs. For each illegal drug there is a specific amount of grams you will have to possess in order to be fined or taken to jail. It is crazy because you can just have a smaller amount of the drug and not get punished. The controversies with drugs are much more interesting to me than what drugs are made of. I hope as each day goes on, the curriculum becomes much more interesting to me, and class becomes much more enjoyable. I am really grasping the college curriculum aspect, and it's helping me discover myself more.

Reunited and it feels so good!
I enjoyed our third day of dance class. We learned the Paso Doble and this time a learned the guy part. My partner and I are learning pretty fast, and I must say we’re doing pretty well. For dinner, I had a nice salad with poppy seed dressing, beef, French fries, and a cupcake. It was much better than lunch today, and my filled stomach has made me a happy camper.  After, I took advantage of SOFT night, and walked around Nashville with some of my new friends. We stopped by Sweet Cece’s, and I got pomegranate raspberry frozen yogurt with mochi and strawberries. It was very refreshing. We also went to CVS to buy some necessities.

Sweet Cece's!
Photo shoot at CVS with new friends!

I ended my day with yet another great proctor group meeting. It has been only our third full day, and already some POGOs written were very heartfelt. Our bond formed has been the closet I have formed with a group of people in this short amount of time.

Fortunately this day was not blazing hot. It felt more like California weather! I began to feel a little homesick, especially missing my brother. I hope to make the most of my time when I return home from VSA, because he’ll be leaving soon after. Till then, I am sure I will continue to have a great time here at Vanderbilt!