Day 26: Ramblings

Hi all!

Today is Saturday, June 24th, 2017. I’m sitting in my cousin’s coffee shop as I write this particular blog entry. The first part of the study abroad program is going by so much faster than I had originally anticipated. Next week is my last full week with them before I have to take the actual class; and to be completely honest, I wish this study abroad program was just joining a lab for an entire summer; forget about the second half at this point haha. I’m probably just going to use this post to touch on a few points here and there on things that have happened for the past few days.

I’ve mostly been in lab, so nothing too exciting there in terms of location. I’ve shadowed at least 6 students in the group, and everyone is working on some incredible stuff in general! For the past few weeks, I got to see various experiments on food fermentations, which is really cool because it related a lot to my food microbiology classes from last semester – and fermentation made up several lectures and lab experiments. I loved seeing the biotechnology stuff the most out of everything – I even learned how to culture human cells for crying out loud! One of the graduate students walked me through that part of his experiment for the past few days, and he even allowed me to try it as well! It wasn’t 100% perfect when I attempted it (me and micropipette tips LOL), but it’s definitely something that we usually don’t, if not never do in the food science labs back at home! Literally the only thought that kept running through my head was “Holy crap this is the coolest thing that I have ever done in lab!” Another student also taught me how to properly prepare and store agar media, how to transfer and cultivate fungal samples, and I think he mentioned that he wanted to show me something else next week. The samples that he let me handle are growing well, I’m so proud of those spores haha!

On Thursday (June 22nd), one graduate student brought in a ton of albino rats for her experiment, so I basically spent the entire day handling them as they were being tested (and attempting cell culturing as well). I think I stayed in lab with the other students until 10:40 PM, so yeah, definitely a long day, but worth it! Everyone in lab is so down-to-earth, and it’s been awesome getting to know some of the students. The same student who taught me how to cultivate human cells also took me near Taipei 101 to get some Krispy Kreme for me and the lab since I mentioned that I haven’t eaten it since I was little (There used to be a store sort of near my house, but it’s been closed ever since).

While I can’t understand everything that they’re saying in Mandarin, I can pick up on certain things while simply nodding and smiling at the same time for compensation (LOL). It’s really interesting to listen in!

People in the lab also bring in food for everyone to share, so I’m making sure to get some stuff for the group and Dr. Cheng before I leave on Friday! We also had a pizza party on Monday (June 19th), so we took a group photo (especially since there were several students who are going to be graduating very soon), and they ordered it from pizza hut. The Pizza Huts in Taiwan have more unique flavor combinations, and in my honest opinion are less salty in taste. In the US, I find a lot of the generic pizza chains super greasy and way too salty. So yeah, to the pizza hut companies in the US, learn something from the Taiwan branches.

I totally forgot to mention this, but in Taiwan, housing is considered to be pretty expensive. At my school (University of Illinois), most people generally want to move out of the dorms and find apartments. For whatever odd reason, dorms are actually a lot more expensive than apartments; but in Taiwan, it’s actually the opposite! I recently learned that there are several students who actually live in the dorm as me, which I found really surprising! In fact, my dorm is literally a big mixture of graduate, undergraduate, and even PhD students. Who knew, right?

This study abroad class is going to be really busy in July, so I’m enjoying these next few days while it lasts! I definitely also want to get some NTU gear for a souvenir as well haha!

All the best,

Cassie

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