Saturday, October 29, 2011

Looking forward to this weekend...

This past week in research news:
I met my co-supervisor. She's in Biochem and is working with the amyloid peptides that I'll be working with. I start basic training in her lab next week. Her name is Louise and seems very nice. I'm excited to have two good supervisors supporting me through this program.
I also gained a little more direction with what I want to be researching. For awhile, I felt like I was just reading random papers that had something generally to do with my interests. But I finally found a good, recent, paper and a good review. I talk with George about the practicalities of it all on Monday.
I feel like if I read through everything again, I'll form a better picture of the info. ...It'd be nice if my printer would come in the mail soon.... Sorry, I'm in England now. It'd be nice if it'd come in the post. :)
I'm currently trying to buy my plane ticket, but facing some issues with the actual purchasing. I finally have my bank account opened, access to the funds, and a working debit card. But I'm buying with United and they only take a card from the States. And, needless to say, I don't have a grand sitting in my bank account back home. Mom and Dad are going to purchase it for me and I'll just write them a check. So, hopefully, I'll soon be able to say with certainty "See you soon, California!".
What am I looking forward to most about going home for a bit? Seeing everyone (DUH. I feel like that is so obvious, it's hardly worth mentioning), driving down Highway 1, driving my car!!!!!!!, beef quesadillas at Kicos, hella Chipotle, chirashi at Sushi Totoro, and going to Blue and chatting it up with my faves Sal Corey Dave and Phoenix. I can still guarantee that they are the best bartenders. Oh, and of course- I can't wait to stroll down West Cliff and reunite with the Pacific.
Alright, the nostalgia is becoming a bit much. Time to move on...
Remember, a few posts ago, I mentioned that the university had asked to link my blog to their internet pages? Well, here are the links if you are interested in looking at that. The link to the ISAO website and the link to the university's USA facebook page. Caitlin showed me how to look at the stats of my blog and they've gone through the roof after these links were put up. I wasn't actually expecting anyone to look at it. Now I feel a little awkward haha. It doesn't help that someone, who I didn't know, asked me if I was the girl with the blog.
I'm too awkward for such things.

... And that's about ALL that happened last week. I feel bad, a week has gone by and I really have nothing interesting to talk about. BUT I will soon have interesting things to look forward to!
Tonight is White Night, the equivalent to Daylight Savings Time. Brighton stays open really late into the night and there are art exhibits out. I'm also headed to a Halloween party tonight with friends who I met at the International Student Welcome Party. Buuuut my costume is terrible. I brought a pirate hat from home... because why would I not have a pirate hat, makes perfect sense... and I kind of found clothes that work. Ish (not really). But terrible costume aside, tonight should be epic.
Diwali was last Wednesday (I believe... I might be wrong about that) and I'm looking to get some epic Indian food. Even if I have to go into Brighton by myself, I WILL find a restaurant to try. I haven't eaten out in Brighton since school started...
Monday is Halloween. And, if I'm being completely honest, I just want to go to Santa Barbara and enjoy the fantastic Halloween that Isla Vista puts on. Because they aren't as into Halloween here as back home. But that won't deter me. I have a jack-o-lantern outside of my door, going to a Halloween party tonight, and am watching scary movies and eating cheap candy on Monday with some of the floormates. I think that's an appropriate celebration of the holiday that I love.

I'm most looking forward to November 5th. I'm sure most of you have seen V for Vendetta and the character Guy Fawkes. Well, they celebrate Guy Fawkes Day over here with huge bonfires and fireworks. I'll be going to Lewes (one of the biggest Nov 5th bonfire sites in England) in celebration. Caitlin and I had talked about exploring Lewes anyway, so we are going to make a day out of the trip.

Well, that's it for now. I need to do some laundry (I'm gonna attempt to hand wash... wish me luck) and cleaning before tonight!

Monday, October 24, 2011


My city is better than your city BECAUSE:
We have a "Beach of the Dead" zombie walk. Where people dress up as zombies and moan their way through Brighton. I didn't participate this year, but when I was at a club that night, there were many zombies around.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Explorations around the campus

So the research continues. This past week, I did my first behavioral test. Unfortunately, a lot of the snails died during the experiment. ... Potentially bad haha.
I went out on Thursday for drinks with my lab and it was awesome! I really like the people, they are all really friendly.
Yesterday, Caitlin and I explored the area just outside of campus- Stanmer Park. It is a National Park that is part of the South Downs and has a tiny little town in it. The walk was beautiful. We walked through the woods, through plains and graze lands, and the town itself. In the town, we stopped at a tea shop for drinks and snacks. I got mulled apple cider and we split a gingerbread man and apple crisp with custard. If anyone comes to visit, this is a must do! The hike is beautiful and the tea shop is very "British". Two awesome experiences.
Last night, I went out to my first club in England. It was so much fun! And I get the feeling that people are more respectful of personal space here. Way better than in the US. The entire atmosphere of the club seemed more respectful, so I'll stay hopeful that it wasn't some fluke just in that club. I have noticed, outside of just the night life scene, that the people in general are more polite and respectful than Americans in general.
The post is short... sorry, but I do have pictures to make up for the lack of interesting things going on in my life!

Saturday, October 15, 2011


So some people like to know (specifically) what I'm doing while here. SO LET ME FILL YOU IN:
I'm doing science. Lots and lots of science. Besides a few visits to the pub with some friends, that's really all I've been doing. Right now I'm doing two things: reading the literature and trying to design my project and learning the behavioral methods we use. So far, my project will be focused on amyloid peptides and how they degrade long term memory. I'm thinking about the PKA pathway and how amyloids are affecting that, but I need to research more. As for behavioral experiments, I'm classical conditioning the snails, then testing them, then injecting them with whatever it is I'm looking for (so like, protein synthesis inhibitor), and then dissecting their brains and running biochemical tests on the tissues.
I'm mostly doing molecular biology, but my co-supervisor is in the chemistry department so I'll probably have a little work in amyloid protein structure. There's also a big electrophysiology unit attached to my lab, so I might do some work in that. I don't know though, its all still really in the beginning!
On Thursday, actually, I explored a little bit. I had a 2 hour time gap to wait for my grocery delivery (its common to have your groceries delivered in this country. Cool/weird!), but I don't have phone reception in my room, so I wandered around outside for awhile. Up behind the housing complexes is an amazingly beautiful area. And I took some pictures!

These pictures are of the campus!

So now I'll go into some of the random things I've noticed. I've had requests to talk about the differences I've seen, so here they are:
- People don't shower as often here. This means that their deodorant is different (they mainly use spray here... I'm guessing to help cover the non-showering stink)
- People smoke a lot more here. But not just that, its not taboo like it is in California. I've seen pregnant people smoking here. Wtf!
- They have their groceries delivered. Yay!
- They use the word "queue" instead of "line"
- They don't eat black beans. At all. I can't find them anywhere :(. Tragic
- They eat A LOT of canned baked beans
- I haven't seen Kraft Macaroni and Cheese anywhere
- Taco Bell does not exist here
- They drink A LOT more here. Its more of an all day, stretched out kind of drinking here. Whereas back home, if people were going out to drink, the time of actual alcohol consumption is much smaller.
- Their shots are 2/3 the size of our shots
- They don't tip their bartenders. Weird.
- They sell Alcopop, which is a premade mixed drink in a can or bottle.
- The bartenders actually measure out the shots and make you pay more for an extra shot (called "doubling up")
- You can walk around in the empty land/ nature areas here without breaking the law for trespassing or being threatened of being shot at
- The people are nicer
- The public transit is WAY better
- The fashion is different. And in big cities, like London, the people dress significantly better than in the US
- Their form of Ramen Noodles is a sad attempt
- Its super expensive to do a load of laundry
- They try to be green (eco-friendly), but people buying plastic bottles of water on a daily basis is very common.
-They don't refrigerate their eggs (GROSS)
- Its much more humid here. The salt in my shaker can't poor out because of the moisture in the air
- The smell of autumn here is AMAZING. You don't get the smell in Santa Cruz, and you get it for a few weeks in Sacramento. But here it is amazing.
- They don't have A/C

Hmmm, I can't think of anything else at the moment. I might add some more in later on as they come to me. Now, I'm just hoping that my light in my bathroom gets fixed (its on a sensor and can't sense me when I'm showering. Every minute or less, the light goes off while I'm in the shower) and I'm HOPING we can get a new oven (mine is a microwave/oven... but the oven doesn't really work, at all, like an oven is supposed to). But we shall see. Exciting things to look forward to in future posts: my first club experience in the UK, Brighton tour, friends from home visiting, the Netherlands, England explorations.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Week In

First- before any anecdotes or sarcasm- I have news! My blog is famous(ish)! I had entered my blog into the University's blog competition for Welcome Week. A blog from a UK citizen and a non UK citizen would be selected as the winner and given a 50 pound prize! I figured since I was blogging anyway, to just enter the drawing. I haven't heard who won yet, but the International and Study Abroad Office emailed me, asking if they could link my blog to their website and facebook group page. They told me they loved the blog and thought it would be helpful for future international students. I was so surprised! But now, this blog is famous(ish) in the ISAO media :)

I am officially a week in to my program and keeping afloat haha.
Its actually been a pretty easy week, if I'm being totally honest. I've mostly been meeting the other professors, being shown around the building, and talking to George about my past research and future projects. Right now, I don't have my hypothesis, but we have directed my thinking a bit. I'll be looking at amyloid peptides role in the degradation of long term memory (in the pond snail Lymnea). I'll be meeting with my co-sponsor this coming week, whose specialty is in the chemical aspect of these amyloid peptides I'll be working with.
I've also been researching (reading papers, not physical research). I'm five textbooks deep and a decent way through one of them and have lots of papers to read. But it is all sooooo interesting.
Really the only downside has been an issue with getting lab keys. I couldn't get them because you have to put down a 10 pound deposit for each (so I needed 20 pounds in cash), but only had 3. However, I finally just buckled down and withdrew cash last night and happily found this morning that the charge was only $1.85! So on Monday I'll be getting my keys and get to read my research in my new PhD room! I have my own desk and everything, its pretty cool :)
Last night I went out drinking for the first time in England. I went with three other people on my floor, one of them is Caitlin who I've talked about previously, and a German friend who I met at trivia night. We invited our other friends to come, but the IDS program on campus was having their own pub crawl, so most people were out at that. However, we were able to meet up with two of our other friends while out so that was really fun. I also tried South African honey liqueur and it was pretty epic. AND, while getting ready to go out, I got to skype with Sam, Mary, and Irvin which was awesome. And then this morning when I woke up (and they had just come back in from drinking), I got to talk to those three and Jenna again. I love that I can go out and have fun here, go to sleep, and then wake up to my friends from the US coming home after a night out.
I do miss them though. I miss everyone a lot! And for those of you who I haven't talked to yet (aka the ENTIRE family), lets get on that, yeah?
I do have a pretty funny story from this week- a baking adventure with Caitlin. She posted a blog about it (this link), which you should read. The story is just so much better with the pictures she added. BUT- what happened is we attempted to bake cookies in our crappy microwave/oven thing. Alas, the attempt was a failure. So we went to our neighbors in the flats close by (who have real ovens) and used theirs. Have we met these people before? No. Did they let us in and let us use their ovens anyway? Yes. The flat on the same floor as us were actually really nice and the cookies FINALLY turned out right. They were chocolate chip banana cookies finally, instead of a random blob of mush.
And now I must go and read/ catch up on all the tv I've been missing. It IS the weekend, after all...


Monday, October 3, 2011

Pictures of my room

First Day= Done!

The first full weekend (and last two days of freedom) have come and gone. I spent Saturday with my floormate Caitlin. The weather has been super nice here (besides humidity that makes me sweat really awkwardly) and, according to all the British people, it won't last for long. So we decided to go to the pier and go to the beach. We got Moo Moos (yaaaaay), the best milkshakes EVER and enjoyed being outside. Next we went into The Lanes, which are a bunch of tiny streets crammed into a little area that's full of shops and interesting things to see. I like The Lanes a lot. Then we started our shopping excursion. First we went to the 99p store (99 cent store), then Poundland (the dollar store), and a few other random stores in search for coat hangers. However, the freshmen have emptied all of Brighton of coat hangers. So for now- I just have clothes piled in my closet. Worse could happen. I did, however, find an 18 set of cheap, yellow, plastic silverware so I got that. Before I was working with 3 spoons and a fork haha.
Then we headed to Primark, which is kind of a mix between Forever 21 and Ross. I fell in love instantly. I think I'm going to have an issue once I have my loan money... But anyway, I got a seat cushion from there. I was going to get a pillow, but the seat cushion was 2 pounds less. The choice was obvious to me.
After that we headed towards our main destination- Asda. Its a WalMart in the UK. Its even owned by WalMart. Asda is pretty far away, so we were searching... and searching... and searching for the 23 bus stop. But we eventually walked for so long that we ended up pretty near Asda anyway. And like I said, it was a nice day so it really wasn't too bad not being able to find the bus. We even walked through a VW Van parade. It made me think of Santa Cruz :)
Asda itself is AMAZING. Everything is SO cheap and the quality is good. I used the rest of my cash to buy food and now I have a pretty good food stock-pile growing. I just need my spices now and it'll feel right! Well, not really. Our oven is TERRIBLE. Its part microwave thats settings are super low or super high and the other part is oven, which you can't even set the temperature for. But besides the stupid oven, my kitchen is coming together nicely.
Sunday I just really enjoyed being lazy. The last day of freedom. I watched some online TV (with great difficulty because the internet here cuts in and out a lot... even though its a LAN line, not wifi) and at night went to the International Student Party. There was good free food and some free alcohol. I got to meet up with pretty much all of the people who I'd met last week. Then I went home to a skype date with Dawn, Megan, Colette, and Sameera. It was wonderful getting to talk to my friends back home and hear normal California accents haha.
Which leads to today- the first day of school. I was running around like a crazy person before my information sessions actually started. I had to sign over my loan check to the school, open a bank account, and have IT help me fix my iTouch. I was able to do it all except opening the bank account. I originally wanted to bank with Barclays. However, Barclays has put me through so much BS from just opening a basic account that I'm choosing a different bank. Opening a bank account shouldn't be as much of a headache as Barclays was making it, so Lloyds it is! On Wednesday I'll go open it and have the rest of my loan money transferred. Until then, I have 3 pounds to my name haha.
Then we had our official Life Science welcome talk and I met with my PI George. He's awesome and is going to be a really really good mentor. I feel like he is expecting a lot of good work from me (which is good) and will be very helpful through the whole process (which is also good). I'm feeling very excited and very confident about the next four years! I'm the only beginning PhD in the lab and am one of four who are working with George. Small group, but the others seem like good people.
After meeting with the PIs, the building put on a welcome party for the Life Sciences, but it was a total flop haha! Only the new PGs (postgraduates) went and a few of the professors were there. With all of us being science-y people, it was just some awkward people put in a room with light refreshments. Very awkward. But I did get to see two people who I've become acquainted to and I met some new people.
I'm currently struggling between finishing cleaning my room to take pictures and show you guys what it looks like and laziness. The internet is making it hard to be lazy, so cleaning might actually win. We will see...