Sunday, April 13, 2014


I got an internship! It's just some lab work 2 days a week, but it is so much more than what I had before.
I have an amazing supervisor. She's easy to talk to. She's a graduate student whose done her own traveling in China and some other places. Her research involves looking into making polymer films that can help separate out certain elements in water. It depends on the number of electrons the element has on whether it can pass through the film or not. I am there to help her make the films. I am simplifying it a bit, because I would prefer not to use this blog as a lab report; I already have one of those I have to finish, and I don't want to need to write another.

My first day on the job, I worked on getting some of the films that were already made out of their petri dishes, which is harder than it sounds, since you don't want to tear them in the process. Water can be used to help. I also, measured out some water to dilute and dissolve some sulfates into a solution, and then added that to a certain amount of the polymer. The solution mixture and the polymer were set aside at the end to stir for 24 hours. Not the most interesting thing for some people, but I was very excited. It's so much like cooking. There is a lot of waiting and patience involved, but I enjoy that not only are you learning something, but it is something where all you need are a set of instructions and measured out ingredients, and there you have it! Stir and serve. I also, did a little on seeing how their IR spectrometer worked. I have used IR specs before, but the ones undergraduates get to use in their labs versus the ones graduates get to use is incomparable. There is so much more possible in the computer programs they have because it is being used for research rather than just as a learning exercise.

On a side note:
I am learning German on my spare time. I am not devoting hours upon hours on it, yet I am using it as a means of entertainment when I am working on mindless tasks, or tasks that need less brain power. For example, on the days that I cook, I can listen to this Coffee Break German instead of listening to music.

Friday, April 4, 2014


This week I haven't done much. I have been sick. :(
I was hoping to sneak by without getting sick while I was abroad. I had gotten by over a month, successfully. Alas, I caught the Richardson plague.

Strangers on the Street

You know how I said last weekend, when we went out to see Marcel Lucont a policeman approached us about a spoon in Paula's back pocket? Well, that wasn't the first odd encounter with strangers on the street that weekend, and It wasn't the last either.

Earlier that day I had been Opt shopping in a Salvo in Oakleigh. Translation: I went thrift shopping in a Salvation Army store in Oakleigh, a suburb in Melbourne. While we stopped to check our phone to see if there was any other Opt shops we could check out, this guy comes up to me and my friend. He was officially the first Bogan I have met. He had a sort of rocker look to him like he had just stepped out of a time machine and forgot that it wasn't the 80s anymore, while still wearing headphones in his ears. Yet, he looked to old to pull off the look, especially with his beer belly and receding hairline. He asked us if we had any change because he was in some sort of trouble. Right away, my thought is, "Is this guy really haggling us for money?" And his reply to the look on our faces was, "I promise I am not going to hurt you." I thought Whoa Nelly! The best way to get someone to think you are not going to hurt is by saying, I am not going to hurt you. He ended up being harmless, but it was definitely an awkward moment where I said I didn't have change, while my friend gave him a dollar for his trouble. The best part of it was that the men who were came to our rescue in spite of not needing rescuing where these three guys who looked like they might be from a biker gang! It was the funniest thing in the world! And when they asked us where we were from because we MUST NOT be from around here, his reaction to me saying American was so cute. For men dressed as bikers, they would be the kind of men I could see letting a butterfly land on their finger.

The next run in with strangers was after Marcel Lucont's sketch. We were deciding on where we wanted to go for a drink, and a women dressed in a leopard print skirt, colorful pouffee shoulder padded jacket, and a unmemorable blouse (because everything else was so bright) over hears our conversation. She kindly directs us to where the best bars were, and even offered to lead us to the party she was headed to! That would never happen in America. Never.

Finally, the next night, I went to anther comedy sketch. I didn't like it. I wish I hadn't gone out that night, but that's okay. One bad experience out of many good ones culturally, is fine with me. Prior to the show, we ended up getting there early. So, some of the guys wanted a quick drink at the bar. Unfortunately, one out of the group is still under age. I felt bad leaving him outside, so I decided to pass up the drinks, and stayed on the streets with him. A couple out of no where asks us for help with his phone. He got an email that had a phone number, and he wanted to know if we had any paper to jot it down so he could dial in. Marijose came to the rescue, and showed him how to copy the number and paste it to dial in. They were definitely a little wasted. The women began to go on an animal rights rant about the horses that were leading the horse and carge rides parked behind us. She complained that they weren't given any water. She also, was complaining that people would say, "Well, they are getting paid!" when obviously the humans are the one getting paid, not them. I didn't disagree, but I also didn't know how to respond.

People are definitely more friendly here.

I feel a little like betraying my university by saying this, but I have never had such an instantaneous sense of community in any of the Halls I have lived in previously. Here I feel I could go to anyone in the hall for help or a ride or just to hang out. There are about 200 people living in Richardson, and I can probably call at least half of them by name, and maybe a few more just recognize them by their face.