Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Girl's Night Out

Girl's Night Our Dinner

I stared at Hannah through the steel netting of my mask, my weapon at the ready. I could barely see her face through her own mask, but from what I did see she seemed apprehensive. Our instructor gave us the signal and we both clumsily shuffled our feet toward one another and swung our sabers at each other carelessly. I heard the loud thud as Hannah's saber struck my helmet. I stood there, bewildered for a moment before retaliating. I moved closer to her and struck her with my own saber. We paused for a moment to stare at the other and then burst out laughing. 

Fencing is probably the best and most exciting Arete class we have at VSA. It was the one Arete class I wanted the most. Last week I was stuck with songwriting, which was not only dull but awkward as well. This week, however, I was lucky enough to get fencing as my Arete class. I was very excited when I discovered that I would spend the next week learning how to fence; what more, I would be learning with a fellow Vandy cohort. I was excited to have a class with Hannah, because that would mean that I would see her more.  

After fencing class, I hurried to my dorm room to change out of my sweaty clothes and into something nicer for dinner. At 5:10 I met the other girls on my floor as well as my proctor and left for dinner at a restaurant which was relatively close to the school--it was close enough to walk to anyway. We ate a delicious dinner and finished with dessert before heading to the movies, where we watched Moonrise Kingdom. It was a very fun girl's night, and I feel like I have become even closer to the girls on my floor; they are like family to me now. 

Just some of the lovely girls I live around. 

(From left to right) My proctor Jazmin, roommate Anna, and friend Katarina.

My girl's night out dinner. 

From Laboratories To Best Friends

I woke up this morning feeling more excited that usual. After eating oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, I walked to class energized, knowing today we were taking a fieldtrip. As soon as everyone arrived, we began a lecture on the administration of drugs, just before we were given instructions for safety in the research laboratories on campus. We were given cool looking safety goggles, then headed off to the other side of campus.

 Our first stop was at a microbiology lab, where a graduate student named Laura Anzadi gave a us quick lecture on bacteria. We learned about gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, and how to differentiate and identify which is which. She also described just a few of the many viruses she studies, which we looked under the microscope in the lab. The laboratories were not as I imagined. They were pretty small, and not as modern as I thought they would be. Nevertheless, she did an amazing demo on how to stain bacteria and look at it under a microscope. It was pretty awesome to see pink and purple rods, mini circles, and clusters enlarged in the microscope, but shown large on the computer screen.

It looks like we're going to fly with these goggles!
We then headed to another research building, where we had a mini protein biochemistry lecture by another graduate student. It was hard to grasp everything she was teaching us, but I did enjoy looking at a protein in 3D. On the large projector screen, she showed a protein she created, and with some special 3D glasses on, the protein seemed livelier than ever.

Our morning ended with some chemistry demonstrations with a chemist who holds a PhD. My favorite experiment ended with a result of silver inside a flask. I thought it was really cool to see my own reflection. We had lunch with those who lead our demos in the lab, and discussed more about their science careers. One of them knew chemistry was his passion since high school and wanted to pursue it, while the others thought they wanted to do certain things in the medical field, but their minds changed towards the end of their undergraduate experience. I am now a bit skeptical of becoming a pediatrician, and reconsidering what I want to major in. I know I am only a junior, and my mind will change a million times, but this class is really helping discover myself more.

Next, we headed to tour three different laboratory facilities, which were beautiful! I saw many graduate students set to work in the fume hoods discovering molecules. These labs looked very modern and it was crazy to see all the different instruments and chemical test tubes around me.
Our professor's actual classroom!

Fencing is getting better and better each day. We actually got to wear the gear(the torso jacket did not feel as safe as I thought it would be) and fight with each other. I can tell you, fencing is pretty tiring, and it gets hot and sweaty under the super safe helmet. Although I’m still scared of getting hit with the gear on, I am enjoying this sport more.

I ended my day with a proctor group night! Our amazing proctor group went into a lecture hall, played Who Knows Their Roommate Best, ate a plethora of Italian food, watched Mulan, and I painted my nails.  My roommate Alexa and I have taken a lot of time to get to know each other better, and it paid off! We won first place, and our sweet proctor, gave us best-friend necklaces! Woot woot! I just loved the quality time we spent with each other and how much we have bonded.

A ton of pizzas, plus lasagna, salad, buffalo wings, and dessert!

The best roommate and proctor!
Our best-friend necklace!
I have had a wonderful day here at VSA, and I am ready for many of the adventures ahead of me!

Friends And Fieldtrips

We spent the day on a “field trip” going around the research facilities around campus. It was really nice to be out of the classroom for once. We started off going through a microbiology lab where we learned how to stain bacteria to make them more visible. The process was very simple and only required a few steps. We all got to see an E. coli bacteria, strep throat bacteria, and a ton others with very long names.

Lookin' pretty nerdy in our safety glasses.

Once we left the microbiology lab, we went to the chemistry labs with Mr. Matt Windsor as the speaker. He was pretty hilarious, and I really enjoyed our time there. He did this really cool experiment to make silver on the bottom of a flask. The silver was perfectly spread across the bottom that I could see my reflection on it. Afterwards, we went touring through chemical research facility labs to see what a chemist does on a daily basis. I found out that these chemist researchers actually have to work on the same problem/equation for months. I really wonder how they don’t get tired of doing the same thing every day; I think it would drive me nuts.
Inside a lecture classroom.
After our fieldtrip, I head to my ArĂȘte class on the first floor. We again went over the lovely Beatles song and we officially made plans for the video we are going to do. I personally don’t like singing alone, and having my face on camera, but it has already been decided that I would probably get both. I guess we will see how that goes later, once we start filming.
Of course, tonight was the night for our proctor night! Overall, it was incredibly fun. We hung out in one of the classrooms and played a “How Well Do You Know Your Roommate” game, which my roommate and I unfortunately lost. Trust me, we DO know each other well, it’s just that the questions were completely random, and it was very difficult to process all the information I knew about her – I swear. Anyway, after the game we all watched Mulan on the huge screen. It was really cool because it was all dark, and we had seats similar to the movie theatre ones, which definitely added to whole the  movie-feel.
Our deliciouse food.

The "movie theatre"

This Proctor Night was so fun and I enjoyed hanging out with these people who I call my friends. They really are the craziest, sweetest, and coolest group of girls I have ever met and I never regret a moment spent with them. Tonight was definitely one of those nights that I will remember for a long time; this is definitely what I call a day well spent.

Left to right: Sara, Hannah, Meera, and Avery

From Women's Studies to Fried Chicken

A beautiful, sunny day in Nashville

Out of all the days I've been at this program, today was probably the most tiring. I don't even know why, because last night I probably had the most hours of sleep out of all the nights during my entire Ivy League Connection Journey. I get three hours of sleep, and I'm wide awake. I get 8 hours of sleep, and I'm almost dead. Okay, that was an exaggeration, but you know what I mean.

Today's class was devoted to a mini women's studies course. It was about women's voices and issues in the religions of Judaism and Christianity (tomorrow is Islam because of a guest speaker). I found it very interesting how looked down upon women are in these religions. You see, if men were the ones who organized, edited, and wrote these biblical texts, there's obviouslyt going to be a bias. Women are usually the ones referred to as the weak and the dependent ones. For example, Eve was the one blamed for creating sin. There are also many stories about women who have committed adultery. For some reason, biblical texts seem to refer to woman as the one's who commit sin, even though women are supposed to be gentle and caring.

On the other hand, men are considered the "leaders". They're supposedly strong and intelligent. It seems that because society has figured for so long that men are like this, God must be a man.  In my opinion, I don't think God has a gender. But to go further into the issue of men as the strong and the egoistic, supposedly men are more transcendent, and therefore, they are closer to God. This shows in what gender the leaders of the church are and what gender isn't.

The texts we read today were very complicated, but I feel the class did a great job finding out their meanings. We also had to do presentations about these argument essays, which I thought everyone's were great and insightful. Our teacher, Ms. Carolyn Davis, told us that the texts she's been giving us are texts they give to college graduates. With that said, the class did a great job. Basically the texts were about how women didn't seem to be as transcending and closer to God, because of their degrading and "sinful" past.

After our presentations, we went into a discussion about the presentations. One main question that stirred up in this discusssion was what was the reason for not throwing out the Bible, even though there are so many contradictions and things that degrade women. My answer to this was that the Bible is a book of history and morals. The book is open for interpretation, and so it is open for discussion. Without the book, who would believe the sermons/messages that the priests, rabbis, or pastors said? Also, even though the book has many contradictions and flaws, the book still has many of the morals and fundamentals that the world believes in today. In addition, the texts we read were argumentative essays about feminism in Christianity and Judaism, and so much of thevidence they cited for their argument were from biblical verses. With that said, the Bible is a source of history and a piece of evidence.

There was no "free-time" today. Instead, it was Proctor Group Night! My proctor group and I ate at a much fancier restaurant than I thought it would be. It was called Cabana, and they served very tasty American food. I was dying for fried chicken this entire trip, and so I finally ended my craving by ordering some. Overall, we had a "chill" and fun time.
Some of the guys from my proctor group and Carlton

My proctor group, along with another proctor group

Proctor group!

The appetizers! The one to the right is alligator. Yum
My fried chicken breast, and some of the guys' pizzas.

Giha's (my friend in my proctor group) baby back ribs!
This week is going by really fast; tomorrow is already Wednesday. For some reason, I kept thinking today was Monday still. Anyway, tomorrow, the entire VSA students and staff members will be attending a dinner in the house of Dean Wcislo of Hank Ingram House. There, we will have the opportunity to see what it really takes to get into Vanderbilt. I hope that what I find out at this dinner will make me more confident about applying here, not less. I guess I'll just have to find out.