Friday, July 31, 2015


Today was a momentous day, and I’ve decided that the only blog format appropriate enough for the importance of today is to write about today as if it were a musical, complete with musical numbers (identified by italics) .

Act I
The curtain opens on a 16 year old girl. She gets out of bed in a dorm room and bursts into One Last Visit to the Gym, an upbeat but bittersweet ballad complete with a cardio kickboxing dance sequence. Following this number, the very sweaty girl exits the stage and the scene shifts to the dining hall set.
In a short musical number, the Developmental Psychology class ensemble sings End of Class, a melodic tune that shifts from the dining hall to the classroom, where a buffet of fruit and donuts await. The ensemble shares a solemn moment as they settle into their seats and fully realize this is their last class together.
The ensemble then breaks into smaller groups and performs four separate musical numbers in rapid succession: Lies and Cookies, Sharing is Caring, Caregiver and Child, and Gender Preferences. These musical numbers show the presentations of each project the Developmental Psych students have been working on.
In End of Class: Reprise, the Developmental Psychology ensemble goes to lunch together at a local bakery/cafe, Medici’s. Interwoven with this is number is It Was On Sale, the 16 year old girl’s solo about buying a book from the book store next to Medici’s. The girl dances out of the bookstore with her book to meet the other Developmental Psych students. The students reminisce about their class while eating lunch, then say good byes. The curtain closes as they start to part ways.

Act II
The curtain opens on the 16 year old girl and some friends. They sing Last Day for Adventuring on the Bus/Red Line stage set, as the scenery outside shifts through various Chicago neighborhoods. The friends exit the public transportation at their destination, Lincoln Park. The walk around the streets until they arrive at the beach. The North Avenue Beach stage set consists of a long expanse of sand overlooking bright, blue Lake Michigan. The friends break into Beautiful Day for the Beach, an active number in which they swim, play volleyball, and bury themselves in sand. Following this number is an instrumental interlude as the sun begins to lower in the sky and the friends sit on the beach relaxing. The next number is Final Supper, a serious number in which the friends migrate from the beach to the Hub51 restaurant stage set, where they share an excellent meal. Through the song, the friends remark how they can’t believe their time together is over. The friends then return towards the dorms, each lost in thought about what they’ve experienced and how strange it is that it’s finished. The final number is Ready for Home. The 16 year old girl is back in the dorm room set, and she sings a solo about how she’s ready to return to all the things she misses at home, but how she’s not ready to leave this place she’s come to know as home. Throughout the number, a whirlwind of clothes and other stuff are thrown into a giant suitcase. At the close of the show, she zips the suitcase shut and crawls into bed. The stage goes dark and the curtain closes.

Apologies, I don’t think that was exactly proper synopsis format for a musical but I hope it gives you an idea of the marvelous last full day I spent in Chicago. It’s been a long day and we have a very important journey tomorrow, so I think it's time to shut the computer, zip up the suitcase, crawl into bed and let the stage go dark.

Final Finish

I can't believe these are some of the last hours I will spending at the University of Chicago this summer. So many familiar faces I will never see again. Hopefully this won't be the last time I'm on this campus. I am definitely looking forward to applying to this highly prestigious school very soon. Knowing today was my last day here, I knew I wanted to go all out. Do everything I can possibly cram into one day in the Windy City. I am proud to say, today was well worth it.

Today was the presentation of our final projects. Every one had pretty interesting research such as gender identity development and parent-child attachment styles. I would say our presentation definitely went better than I thought, I was thankful we met the time requirements. Of course we could have done better, but the millions of rehearsals we had last night paid off. We turned our presentation into a little game show to get the whole audience involved. I was so relieved to finally finish it, it was a bittersweet feeling. Knowing all my work had payed off, yet the end of class, also marked the end of our summer session.

Crown Fountain
After class the whole class took a lunch trip to "Medici," the place with the legendary milkshakes. I was still full from lunch and I didn't really want to spend anymore money because I spent alot so far, so I didn't order anything. After lunch we all went back to our dorms and later headed into downtown Chicago. This was my chance to do everything I haven't done yet. 

Chicago Dog
4 classmates and I went to Millennium park to see the bean, one last time. I also quickly walked by Crown Fountain. It is literally a giant open fountain for a whole bunch of people to run around in and get wet. Apparently it is also good luck if you get spit on by one of the giant faces. I also haven't tried an infamous Chicago Hot Dog, so I quickly googled  one and found "American Dogs." I spent a whopping $4.95 on a hotdog. It had everything I imagined, but the actual weiner part, was somewhat disappointing. I thought it was going to be a special sausage or bratwurst, but it's simply just a hotdog. It was also more sour than any other flavor. It was probably the best hotdog I've ever had, but come on, how good can a hotdog actually be. The hotdog was enough to hold me of until dinner, so we were off to the beach.

We took the "L" to Lincoln Park, were we then took a 10 min bus ride to the beach. It was a perfect way to de-stress after 3 weeks of tedious work. It was exactly like the beaches back at home, except the water didn't leave that disgusting salt taste in your mouth. It was freshwater! I've never seen a body of freshwater that big, with waves big enough to boogie board on. The water was freezing, but after awhile I got used to it. I also joined a few kids' volleyball game and played with them for a few hours. It reminded me of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk back at home.

Four hours at the beach had me working up an appetite. We took the "L" back to downtown and found ourselves us at Hub 51. Apparently it got good reviews, so that meant I had to try it. The prices were fairly decent, compared to the quality of the food, which was great. My spicy fish sandwich was definitely worth the $13. Everyone was so full of food, we all felt like we had to work it off some how. Throughout my summer I have always seen people ride around in these light blue clunky bikes. So we decided to bike the 7 miles from downtown to campus. It was my last day here, so I wanted to go all out. It was well worth it. Until next time Chicago!

The Final Goodbye

My poster
I woke up and realized today was the last day of class. I felt a bit sad since at breakfast I had to say good-bye to a lot of my friends who were leaving earlier in the day but nevertheless I looked forward to my last class. Ms. Fineschi gave us class time to work on our posters and lab report.

Then we had to present or posters. My group's poster turned out to be great and I was really proud of it. I had to present a couple of times and there were some questions. Since our class's poster session was combined with BioTech's we got to walk around and look at the research their class did.

The class was over soon and there were a lot of hugs and goodb-yes. After class Sayali, Alexis, and Megha and I went to Medici for lunch to say a good-bye to our favorite bakery. Emam was supposed to come with us but unfortunately she had to leave for home. After lunch soon everybody started to leave and literally most of the people I know left till it was only me and Alexis left.

After dinner I had to say GoodBye yet again as more people left. I was especially sad when Alexis left since she had become a close friend of mine but that's ok; we are still in contact. I decided to go back to dorm and work on my final lab report which I had been neglecting all day and is due midnight tonight. I just finished it and now I have to submit it. Tomorrow is my flight back home and I am super excited to just sleep in my own bed again.
Last Group Picture

The Parting of Ways

Days like today make me want to go lie down and rest for a bit. Not just because I stayed up very late last night, but because today was the last day that my class would be together. We've been through a lot together, and that made it very hard to say goodbye to everyone today. 

I find goodbyes very difficult. Not necessarily because I feel emotional when the other party has to leave, but because I start wasting time and energy thinking about them a lot, and wondering what would have happened if we had gone to the same school. I'll digress a little: If you become friends with someone at a certain time in your life, what would have happened if you had met a different point in time? Would you still be friends? Maybe bitter enemies? Do you have any control over this at all? I find it wondrous that our lives are filled with such chance, but somehow everything turns out just fine. 

Today was actually very plain, but there was a strong sense of finality in the air. On the bus ride back to Chicago, nearly everyone slept or stayed extremely quiet, which added to the feeling of resignation. Finally, we got back to the dorms, where I said a quick goodbye to Dom, who was leaving to go home. After that, I just stayed in my room and prepared for the flight home tomorrow. I would have gone out, but I didn't have the energy or the time to. 

When I get up in the morning, it will be time to catch my flight back to the Bay. I'm torn between wanting to go back to my comfortable bed at home and wanting to stay here and continue the pursuit of knowledge and adventure. But no matter how I feel, we all know that it's time to return home...

Tomorrow is another day.

A Night on the Moonlit Lake

It's super late/early over here! I'm kind of dead, but I'll try to recount on the stuff that I did today.

Today started off as a day like any other. I got up, ate breakfast, and walked up to the observatory to finish the project we were working on, which was about how different programs measure brightness differently. But due to one of my group members being several hours late, and several equipment and program malfunctions, we didn't really get started working until 1 PM. Other than that, it was perfectly normal.

The lighting is odd, but that is the Moon, not the Sun.
Photo courtesy of Alex Schiffer.
After dinner, our class roasted smores by the lake. It was really gorgeous, since the moon was clearly visible during the sunset, and the lake looked like it was sparkling. After eating just two smores, I decided to look around the shore a little with my friends Dom, John-Marshall, Ethan, Julianne, and Alex. We found a small dock that was low on the water, sat down, and just talked. Also, it was warm enough to dip our feet into the water. It was quite relaxing, and we stayed there for a while.

The observations that we made today were much less formal than last night, since this was our last night together as a class. In between observations, we played games in the dark, like Sardines. In this game, one person hides, and everyone has to find him/her. When someone finds the hider, they join the hider in the spot and wait for more people to find them, and the game ends when the last person finds everyone hiding in one spot. This was extremely fun, since we played in the dark, spooky observatory and the surrounding area.

After we were let loose to go back to the hotel around 1 in the morning, Dom, John-Marshall, Julianne, Alex and I all decided to go back to the dock. We just talked about our hopes and dreams, our fears, and using quantum physics to determine the possibility of white holes. We'll probably never see each other again after tomorrow, so this was kind of sad, but I had fun. I have a feeling that if we had gone to the same school, we would have been a tight group of friends, but...oh, well.

Tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Penultimate Progress

Tonight's blog may be a little short, due to the lack of interesting activities. Today's class was easy and laid back. Since it was the second to last day of class we didn't learn much textbook related content, but instead were able to discuss more related to our interests. The rest of the day was dedicated towards finishing up our final papers and presentations. There are beginning to be signs of tension amongst my group members. Some are too bossy while others don't really care much. There is a constant struggle of balance, to finish our work efficiently. After a whole day of a work, the RA's put together an ice cream social, where we had one last chance to all meet together and talk over ice cream.  It was also supposed to be a karaoke session, but no one wanted to sing and the music quickly faded into the background.

Life is a Beach

It gets cold in the lounge.

This morning I woke up late even though I had planned on waking up early to work on my lab report. Today in class I worked on my lab report because my teacher gave us time to work on it in during class. We watched a very interesting movie called Contagion. It was about the transmission of diseases and how fast they spread. My favorite part of the movie was when the daughter and her boyfriend had their senior prom in the living room.

We sometimes get our work done.

After class Avanti and I walked to the beach on 57th street.  It was beautiful and I had an amazing time. I can't swim so I ended up floating around but it still felt really refreshing. The when I got back my friends had ordered food for me and it was amazing, since I was famishing I literally just boggled up the food. After dinner, we went to a karaoke and ice cream night and I had a blast. They played all of my favorite songs and there was even a dance off between two boys. And now yet again we are all bundled up trying to work on our lab report but miserably failing.

Made Possible by the Online Rhyming Dictionary

As a throwback to last Thursday’s Shakespeare experience, today’s blog will be in couplets.

This morning was all sun, no fog
Naturally, I took a jog

My time left here is getting slim
So I also visited the gym

Ate my breakfast in a whiz
While studying for the final quiz

Class started with that little test
On some questions, I guessed

Next on the agenda: an interesting lecture
On birth order effects, we did conjecture

A topic of interest, do you think?
It’s your lucky day, here’s a fun link! :

Family and psychopathy, in addition we discussed
And can’t forget school dress codes, that was a must

At the end of this talk that was most intriguing
‘Twas time to break for lunch, our stomachs needed feeding

Return to the classroom for an afternoon of work
Revising our papers was a task we could not shirk

We also spent time to practice our presentation
And tried to perfect eye contact and enunciation

The afternoon was quite a scene
Made one last trip to see the Bean

The evening was a social sight
Ice cream and peers for our penultimate night

Sadly, our adventure here is coming to a close
Was this poetry confusing? Next time I’ll use prose

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Epic Quest for Ping-Pong

I realized that much of my last blog was fanboying about all the giant telescopes, and how their amazing wonder filled my mind with awe- Wait, I'm doing it again...

Anyways, I forgot to talk about other stuff. For example, I didn't mention that we're staying in a university hotel right by a lake shore. The view is excellent, and a lot of us are considering going swimming. But other than looking around the lake, there isn't a whole lot to do. So, four of my classmates and I went on an epic quest to assemble a long-lost ping-pong table!

We were all just walking around, when we encountered a janitor. He suggested that we find the table tennis table, but his directions were so vague that we spent a good half-hour looking for the building where it was housed. Finally, our destiny led us to the sacred House of Emery (I mean Emery House, but this sounds cooler), where we stumbled upon the ping-pong table. However, the quest was far from done. We had to find the paddles and the balls! This actually took around an hour and a half, due to a confusing map and several hysterical breakdowns. But it was done, and we now have unlimited access to ping-pong.

Today, we mostly worked on our projects, which are much simpler than last time. Basically, my group is just taking lots of pretty pictures of the sky and comparing them. We're supposed to stay up pretty late tonight, so that we can get good pictures. So, I'm going to start working...

Tomorrow is another day.

Marvelous Milkshakes

As I count down my last days here at the University of Chicago summer session, I look back to my first few days on campus. What used to be a hassle is now a habit and struggles are now simple. At this point I feel like I've been here all my life. Taking showers and going to bathroom was so much work, I had to bring all my little soaps and shampoos, towels, and a change of clothes. At first it took me a good 15 minutes of just standing there and making sure I had everything to simply take a shower. Now, I don't even care if I walk through the hallway in my underwear.

Class was the usual lecture and discussion. But today we had more individual interaction and experiments. We were studying about individual differences and we had to write autobiographies about ourselves and analyze how our biological or past experiences affect the way we are today. The afternoon session was mostly group work, working on our presentations for our final project. After class I finished up all my homework early so I could do the nighttime activities.

Tonight's activity was a dinner trip to a local popular café, called Medici. Apparently, milkshakes are only 1$ on Wednesdays. It was totally worth it, the perfect ratio of ice cream, milk, and whipcream, finished with a glowing red cherry on top. After the milkshakes I joined another soccer game, with a few people at the field, showered, and began a little studying for our quizzes coming up.  

A Sleepy Day

This morning I woke up early and went to breakfast. Today's breakfast was not the best, I miss the food my mother makes. We had a lecture  about vaccines and how they target certain strains of viruses. We learned about the first vaccine made for smallpox by  Jenner. It was kind of cool yet alarming to learn that he used a young boy as a lab rat for the vaccine but it worked so Yay. 

During lab, we look at our sequenced lake water and determined what "swims" in the lake. All of the groups found common bacteria that are safe to be around in healthy amounts. My group and I sequenced bacteria in the mouth and algae from the lake. We found some pretty general harmless bacteria and nothing harmful, which is a relief. 

After coming back to dorms I straight up passed out on the bed. Lately I have been getting so tired maybe it's because I stay up so late. I woke up to have dinner. Then me, Emma, Sayali, and Alexis once again took up on our lab report. Thankfully I am done with my poster and I now only need to work on the lab report. Three more days to go.

If I Were to Write a Food Blog...

To continue my trend of new approaches to blogging, today’s blog will be written like a recipe. At home, recipes are one of my most common forms of reading material, so this will be a fun little practice for me.

Recipe for Tamika’s Wednesday, July 29, 2015:

2 parts Exercise
2 parts Developmental Psychology Class
3 Meals at the Dining Hall
Activities in my Dorm

To begin the day, use 1 portion of exercise. Take the exercise as a run and then a 15 minute abs workout class at the gym. To continue the day, add 1 meal at the dining hall and then 1 session of Developmental Psychology Class. Make sure to use the part of Developmental Psychology Class that talks about individual differences and the structure of papers and presentations. After part 1 of Developmental Psychology class has been thoroughly incorporated, add another meal at the dining hall. Mix this into the day briefly before slowly adding part 2 of Developmental Psychology Class. Part 2 should include lots of free time to work on group presentations. Make sure to let the day rest at this point to achieve best results.
Add a sprinkle of activities in the dorm to the day. To make Tamika’s day, add some piano playing and a dash of soccer, however if you would like to vary the Wednesday, this is your chance as chef to experiment with other activities as well.
When it appears that the day has sufficient activities added to it, add in part 2 of exercise. This consists of Zumba and swimming at the gym. Make sure the swimming includes a variety of strokes, because this is the last opportunity for swimming.
Good job! The Wednesday is almost complete. Add 1 more meal at the dining hall, followed by your choice of activities in dorm. Fully incorporate these elements into the day and enjoy!

I realize that was a very strange way to relay what I did today, and I hope it was amusing and not too difficult to follow.
In case you were disappointed by the fact that this blog did not actually contain a real recipe for food, here are a couple of combinations I've been trying out in my dining hall adventures:

Greek yogurt+honey+granola+trail mix
Toast+grilled chicken+tomato slices
Sauteed spinach+shredded carrots
Melon slices+sunflower seeds
Sliced banana+chocolate syrup+golden graham cereal

Or if you want a real food blog....this one's great:

Happy reading and happy eating!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Playing With Giant Telescopes

The observatory from a distance.
Today was my class's trip to Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin, effectively making this into a trip within a trip. Is this tripception? No, since Leonardo DiCaprio isn't here to blow our minds and say "We need to go deeper."

Some of my classmates help move the telescope over.
What was mind-blowing, however, was that fact that we actually used the telescopes in the observatory (with some assistance). That itself is really cool, since these are almost relics from another age. One of the telescopes, a forty-inch diameter refracting telescope, was from the late 19th century, and is one of the largest refracting telescopes in the world. My class used that same telescope to look at Saturn and the Moon.

The telescope that we used today was so massive and old that we all had to grab handles attached to it to manually point the lens at something. It was fun to collaborate as a sort of team with the rest of my classmates on something that was a lot more interactive than pushing buttons on a computer. Also, other things that we got to do were: move the entire floor up and down, open and close the dome housing the telescope, and move the dome around.

A terrible photo of Saturn. It was terribly difficult to
focus the camera.
In addition to manipulating the equipment, we also used it to look at stuff. Like I said before, we looked at the Moon and Saturn using the giant telescope. Saturn wasn't merely a point of light; we could actually make out the rings and even one of its moons, Titan. It was fascinating that we could clearly see something several times farther from us than we are from the Sun. The Moon was equally entrancing, since it was almost full tonight. I managed to hold my camera up to the telescope to take a few photos.

The Moon in all its beauty. You can see some of its prominent features.
After getting a demo on the giant telescope, my class split up into smaller groups to use the other telescopes. My group ended up on the smaller twenty-four inch telescope, but I liked this one better than the other forty-inch behemoths (there were two). It was easier to control, and I found something weird on it! Even Ms. Ramseyer, one of my teachers, didn't know what it was. Maybe I'll name it after me...
The smaller telescope we used.
Anyways, this is only the first day of the trip-in-a-trip. We still have tomorrow and Thursday to collect data and play with...I mean, use the telescopes. But I'm having a great time here, and can't wait to get back to it tomorrow.

Tomorrow is another day.

Calming Coffee

I didn't have class today because it was dedicated to an office hours sort of thing. It felt so good to sleep in, although breakfast in the dining hall ended at 9, I missed it and ended up waking up around 10. Later on, I planned to go to Ms. Freeman's office hours in case I needed help on my project due today. I didn't want to spend all day in my dorm, so I found a local coffee shop to do my homework. I never knew how useful Yelp can be, when I just typed in coffee shop and a whole bunch came up within a five mile radius. I didn't want to go too far, so I chose the closest one. I ended up walking about 15 minutes South of campus, to Greenline Coffee. As I was walking there, there were at least three billboards on the way, with big green signs pointing to the coffee shop. So it must have been good. 

Greenline Coffee was sort of in the middle of nowhere. The interior looked nothing like the exterior. The neighboring buildings seemed run down and faded, then there this lively coffee shop. Everything was well lit, there was a lot of seating, but not too crowded. The menu was one of those blackboards with the items written in chalk. I could feel I was going to get alot of work done there. I ordered a large iced mocha, because I knew I was going to be there I while. I sat down and opened my laptop to start my work, but the WiFi wouldn't work for me. I was too lazy to walk back all for nothing. So I ended up staying at the coffee shop for at least 2 hours on my phone. Then I decided to join my classmates at office hours for help on our project. The rest of the day was used to finish up the results of my project. I actually found parents do not have significant influence on the sharing behaviors of their children.

A Day Filled With Work

This morning I had grits for breakfast and it was so delicious. For once I was really satisfied. Today in class we had a lecture on viruses and vaccines. I learned so much about the way viruses infect their host cell and replicate to spread throughout the body.

When I got back from class I work on my final project. For my final project I am focusing on the physcological, economical and social aspects of the black plague. It is actually a really interesting topic to reasearch on. Then I went down and had dinner with the group.

After dinner we all bundled up together once again to work on our new lab report. Thankfully this Lab report is shorter but it is also way more confusing than the older one. Hopefully, I can make it through.

Tuesday's To Do List

In an effort to keep my blogs interesting, I’m going to try a different approach with today’s blog. I’m a big fan of making lists, so this blog is basically going to be one long list that will hopefully give you a good picture of my day.

The most obscure thing I did today: I got a neck rub with some eucalyptus-y scented ointment. This may sound like a very strange thing out of context, but it was part of the yoga session I went to this evening. On our excursion Sunday, Alana had mentioned that she thought there were free yoga classes at Rockefeller Chapel. This sounded pretty neat to me, so I looked it up online and discovered there was a class Tuesdays from 6 to 7. I got Tiffany to accompany me, and while it was very quiet and unlike anything else I’ve done here, I personally had a good time. Rockefeller Chapel is a beautiful space, and the instructor was really soothing. I felt very peaceful at the end of the one hour session. We’re really lucky how many free programs we have access to on campus as part of our student experience, and I’m trying to make the most of all these opportunities.
Gorgeous Rockefeller Chapel

The most ordinary thing I did today: I changed my bed sheets, since Tuesday is one of the days for linen exchange. Part of this experience has been adjusting to being aware of everyday life needs, as no one else is paying attention to them for me. I actually had a little difficulty with this task today because the fitted bed sheet was hard to stretch around the mattress, but I managed to make up my bed and it’s currently waiting for me to crawl in and sleep well.

The most creative thing I did today: It was a warm day today so I decided I would get some ice cream after dinner. This week I’ve been playing little games in the dining hall, trying to combine foods to make something better. Today I tried a root beer float with vanilla ice cream and some root beer from the soda fountain. It was satisfactory and I felt happy with my creation.

Something unexpected: While I was working on my paper this morning, I checked my email and found I had received an email from a Japanese student in Shimada, Japan. We hosted a few students in our class this past school year and provided email addresses, but I’d forgotten about this arrangement. I was really happy that I was contacted by Sakura, who I will be pen pals with. I think this will be a fun experience and definitely a good way to practice my Japanese.

Something unfortunate: It makes me sad that some people can’t hear. Obviously there are many other unfortunate issues in the world besides people being deaf, but I’m focusing on lack of hearing because today during my music practice session I got in a very musical feeling mood and went back to my room to listen to songs we’ve played in band before. Music can be so powerful and it’s a really special feeling. It’s unfortunate that not everyone is able to experience music in the same way that I am, and this is one of those moments I’m grateful for how incredible my circumstances are, both on the basic level of bodily needs and on the larger level of having a great experience with music that enhances my appreciation of it.

Something I learned: Our reading for tomorrow’s lecture was an article on how the West’s dominance on ideas about mental illness effect the rest of the world. The article was illuminating both on the nature on mental illness, and the issues that arise due to a globalization phenomenon in mental illness. For interested readers, the article can be found here:

My favorite part of today: This is so hard, because it was a really good day. I think maybe walking back from yoga was the best part of my day, because I knew I'd accomplished everything I needed to already, I was thoroughly relaxed from yoga, and I was looking forward to dinner. I love the feeling of knowing it's been a full day and I achieved that sense of satisfaction on the walk back from yoga.

The worst part of today: Today was honestly I really good day for me, so it’s hard to choose a worst part of the day. I guess the worst part might be the time I spent in class today, just because it was a lot of reviewing my work and trying to figure out how to put in graphs and tables. However, this went by quickly and it was an accomplishment to turn in my rough draft before leaving class around 3:00. 

And that was my day! Or at least, that encompasses most of the important parts of my day. It felt luxuriously long because we didn’t have structured class, and overall I am just very content with this last Tuesday.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Chubby Children

UChicago Day Care
It's my last week at the University of Chicago this summer and there is so much I haven't done yet. I have to make this week last. So far it has started of pretty well. Today in class we finished up our data pools, with the last of the children coming in today. Everything went pretty smoothly, the real challenge was finding this to entertain us, while we waited our turn to run the experiments. All of our experiments are run in the University's day care, which is deep underground in one of the study halls for some reason. It's so hard to find we actually have to meet the parents and kids outside, and escort them to the room. Today we had a nice variety of kids, some old and some really young. The young ones don't really understand the experiment and just want to play with the toys. While, some of the really old ones, dont even want to be here. Overall, I collected my data and now able to write the results and conclusion of my final paper.

After class I went up to my room to rest for a few minutes before dinner. After dinner I heard the gym had a nice pool, so I told some friend I would meet them there. 30 minutes later I went to the gym, but I didn't see anyone at the pool. But I did see a gym full of badminton players. I haven't played in so long and I kind of miss it. So I ran back to the dorms and quickly changed and ran back. I forgot how much fun badminton is. They provided rackets, but they weren't the best quality, in fact I saw the same ones at the dollar store. But hey, beggars can't be choosers. It was an open gym, so we just had to show up and wait for an open court. My friend and I went around asking people to play doubles. Of course, you win some and lose some. I ended up playing all the way up to curfew, and had to leave just because it was late. That was the most exercise I've gotten all summer.   

Children, Dumplings, and Fitness

Sleep is a funny thing. Sometimes getting enough of it makes me alert and sometimes it makes me tired. Today was one of those days where I was tired even though I got adequate sleep. Going through the morning routine felt kind of funny, because I was realizing how this is really our last week! Even though a week is still a pretty long time, I think most of us are starting to feel like it’s already the end. My roommate and I were talking last night and both agreed that it feels like the climax, both in terms of class projects and in terms of getting in our last memories with new friends and places.

Class today felt long. Part of this was because it was considerably longer than last week’s class days had been; we went to 4:30 today instead of 2:30 or 3. Also, in the morning we were discussing neural development and the more biology based material about the brain, which for me requires more effort to pay attention to than learning about the reasons behind kids’ antics. Overall, energy in class was pretty low today and we were all ready for lunch when Cassie let us out, earlier than normal.

Grace, Kathy and I decided to take advantage of our early lunch to go to the food trucks before the lines got long. As I’d been planning, I went to the pierogi truck, called the Pierogi Wagon. I got cheese and potato pierogi with grilled onions and bacon bits on top, which was both yummy and filling. I'm glad I got to try some form of Polish cuisine while here, since Chicago has a large Polish population. After eating our food, we made a stop at the dining hall and grabbed some fruit to balance out the meal.

Plump Pierogis
All of our afternoon session was in the lab, where we ran our experiments on a parade of children of many ages. This was kind of tiring, but also a lot of fun. During a lag between participants, Grace and I spent a good portion of time just playing with a two-year-old participant for fun. Playing with kids is one of my favorite things to do, so I had a blast sitting on the floor rolling cars around and talking about their colors. Finally, after four hours we had collected data from all our participants and entered it into our tables.

I was really relieved to finally go back to my dorm, the busy day had been taxing and I was super looking forward to Zumba this afternoon. I had a quick turn around to change into my exercise clothes, and then I headed down to the lobby to meet the rest of the group that was going to Zumba. Tiffany and I decided to go swimming afterwards. Zumba and swimming are two of the most invigorating activities I’ve discovered in my adventures at UChicago, and I felt very content afterwards. The rest of the evening was low key, but overall today was a well spent last Monday. 

The Culmination of Our Efforts

"I don't like Mondays, especially if they occur on Fridays." -Jarod Kintz

I don't know who this guy is, but I get the vague feeling that if we met up, we would get along pretty well. Just a feeling.

Anyways, today was the day of our research presentations! It was kind of nerve-wracking, since even though I had done extensive research on my subject (neutrino flux relationship to the solar central temperature), I hadn't actually prepared for the presentation. My partner did most of the work on that, while I worked on drafting the report and reading more about equations.

I heard some amazing presentations today, on topics ranging from dynamical parallax to the spectra of quasars. If I hadn't taken this class, I wouldn't have been able to appreciate the elegant methods that my peers employed to solve problems or present solutions. For example, one of my classmates used software to cut a star cluster into onion-like layers, so that he could measure the brightness of each layer and use calculus to find the effective radius (radius that contains 50% of the brightness) of the cluster. I'm not being self-deprecating; I was simply very impressed with the other projects. My presentation went pretty smoothly as well, and I was relieved that nothing went horribly wrong.

Today was actually my last day in the classroom; tomorrow, my class will be going on a three-night trip to Yerkes Observatory, around two hours away in the state of Wisconsin. Actually, this will be the fifth and final state that I will have traveled to on this trip. I've been to Phoenix, Arizona, (during the layover flight), St. Louis in Missouri, South Bend in Indiana (Where Notre Dame is), and Chicago, where I've spent the last two weeks. This final trip will be the last main event of this whole month, and we have to come up with another project in a matter of days, so I better get cracking...

Tomorrow is another day.

103 Stories Up

Just smile through the fear
This morning I woke up and went to breakfast but there was nothing good to eat. I walked to class with my friends. During class we had a lecture and discussed our previous lab results. After lunch we had a fun lab. The students in Biotech joined us for the lab. We walked all around the room and when the teacher said stop, we had to shake hands with the person closest to us. We all had gloves on and had a liquid that if you put it under a UV light, it would glow. The purpose of this lab was to see how easily diseases are spread. 

After class my friends and I went to the famous Willis Tower skydeck. When we got there the line was so long. I initially thought that the elevator was made of glass and was absolutely terrified. When I learned that the deck was the only thing that was glass I was put at ease a little bit. When we got to the 103rd floor, I was in awe. The view was spectacular. I could see everything, the lake, millenium park,  cars and kayakers. 

When I walked on the glass deck the first time I made Alexis hold my hand.  The second time I had gained a little bit more confidence and sat down on the glass to take a picture. I am so glad that I went, even though I am afraid of heights. Today was a satisfying day but unfortunately I have a final project and a lab due so I need to get back to work.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Big Bean

The Bean or it's lesser name, "Cloud Gate" is huge. I always thought it was small enough to climb on. But boy was I wrong. It is huge. Located in Millennium Park, is just a giant metal bean. I did some research and found it's design was influenced by liquid mercury to win a design competition. The Bean is constantly surrounded by crowds of people, just to stare at their own reflection in a curved mirror. I can admit I spent a good 15 minutes, doing just that.

Millennium Park is right next to The Art Institute of Chicago and it is free for University of Chicago students, so why not go again. After all, this is the last Sunday I have in Chicago this summer. I saw alot of different pieces I didn't see the first time I was there. It's cool actually being able to recognize famous painting's you've only see in pictures.

I came back in time to join the "Sunday Soccer" game. This time it was only amongst fellow students. There weren't any foreign players this time, but everyone was around the same skill level, which was nice. Today was a long day, but my last Sunday was well worth it.   


Today marked the start of our last week here. I let myself sleep more than normal today, so I woke up feeling very well rested. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but because Abigail, my roommate, lives in Chicago, she goes home on the weekends. This means I have the room to myself on the weekends, which is a little luxurious but mainly just kind of lonely. The contrast between having a roommate during the week and being alone on the weekends is evidence for me that I will want a double and not a single for dorm life in college.

I spent the morning doing various forms of exercise. First I went on a run, and then I went swimming at the gym. Then I got some stuff in order in my room before heading down to the dining hall for an early lunch. At 12, Jae-An and I met Alana in front of the dorms. Like last week, we were the only two of our cohort attending the excursion.

Pretty Paperweights
We took the Metra train downtown, and it deposited us right next to the Art Institute, which is situated between Grant Park and Millenium Park. Alana and I waited in line to get into the Art Institute while Jae-An went to explore the parks. Once I got in (for free, yay!), my first stop was the Thorne Rooms. On the way there I looked at some elaborate paperweights. Then, I visited the Thorne Rooms! They were fascinating. I really wish I could shrink down and personally explore them. I can’t decide if I like the American or the European rooms better. I liked the miniature items in the American rooms more, and they were cozy and felt more like dioramas, where as the European rooms were spacious and ornate. However, the fancy feel of the European rooms was appealing, and really made me want to travel to France. My favorite thing about the rooms was how detailed the surroundings of the rooms were, most rooms had extensions to mini rooms next to them or outside views.

After thoroughly inspecting the Thorne Rooms, I ventured up the stairs to the Impressionist area and was almost immediately greeted by George Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Grande Jatte. I then explored the rest of the Impressionist rooms and was quite impressed. It is insane how much extraordinary art is inside the Art Institute! I couldn’t get to all of it, but I managed to see all the notable pieces I’d been planning to. I was a little disappointed that Mary Cassatt’s Child’s Bath was on loan to a different museum so I wasn’t able to see that, but all the other artwork made up for it.

Masterpiece of Pointillism
Inspiration for Newman's Pretzels?
Despite being amazing, the Art Institute visit was still tiring, and I was very low on energy during the bus ride back and when we returned to campus. Luckily, playing soccer on the Midway with other members of the program perked me up. Dinner was a brief affair, since we’d be having our last study break at 9 and it sounded like it was going to be a feast. Sure enough, the RAs had prepared a vast array of sweet treats. This was a lovely end to the weekend and I probably consumed enough sugar to energize me for the next six days, until I can get home and bake my own goodies. I have really missed creating in the kitchen and that’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to doing when we return next Saturday.

Making My Way Downtown...

Ahh...I love days where I get to sleep in. I got up at 10:45 this morning after a long mental debate on whether I should eat lunch for breakfast or breakfast for breakfast. I decided to just go downstairs and choose based on what I felt like. In the end, I had breakfast for lunch: just two simple bowls of cereal with milk.

You know, we're having something called a drought in California...
Alana had another optional cohort excursion planned today, so I decided to go. Again, Brandon and Aisha decided not to go, so it was just Alana, Tamika, and me. We took the train to the Art Institute of Chicago, which was where Alana and Tamika had decided to spend the afternoon. I had already been there, so I ended up wandering around Chicago. Since the Art Institute is almost right in the middle of Grant Park, I decided to check out some of the major tourist attractions, like Buckingham Fountain and Cloud Gate. After going to the popular destinations, I decided to explore some more, and ended up seeing some interesting things, like a miniature model of Chicago. In the last hour or so of the excursion, I decided to go back to the Art Institute to look at some of the exhibits again, and found another half of the building that I had somehow missed the first time. 

The underside of Cloud Gate aka the Bean.
I thought this model of Chicago was pretty neat.
Tamika and I decided to take the bus back to campus. I tried to sleep on the bus, but ended up banging my head several times on hard edges. That's another thing that I've noticed about Chicago: it's really difficult to sleep on public transportation, usually due to the mysterious lack of headrests.

Tomorrow is the day that Dom and I have to present our project...I'm pretty sure that it will be alright, but I can't help but feel the tiniest pang of anxiety. I guess I'll just get it over with...