I know I owe you a Paris montage. I know I owe you a proper post on the Christmas trip to California with Ben. But I'm at work right now, waiting for a gel to run, and don't have access to my pictures. So instead, I will update you on the current (past month and a half of) stuff going on in my life.
I got back to work in the beginning of January, eager to start up working again. However, I spent most of that month doing literature review. I'm looking at multiple components of a molecular signalling cascade, which is essentially like trying to put together a complicated puzzle. I've realized I REALLY need to know EVERYTHING there is to know about the molecular players and how they interact with each other if I want to be able to draw conclusions from my data. During that time, I also learned how to do a few key experiments that would significantly increase my time and financial management in relation to work. Now, for every one result I achieved before (which was two weeks worth of work) I can get four results. Now, instead of using 15 animals for one result, I can use 3 animals for four results. THIS IS AMAZING PROGRESS! It saves me SO much time and SO much money that I can now plan future experiments I wouldn't have had the time or funding to complete. And that makes me really excited.
I will be going to Belfast in Northern Ireland for two days to attend the Alzheimer's Research UK conference, where I'll be presenting a poster. I'm hoping to network more and am looking forward to getting an update on what's happening in the field (its so easy to ignore everything that's happening if it isn't exactly relevant to your own work).
My professor and I have also decided it would be good for me to attend a conference/week long course on neuroepigenetics. Since I will likely finish my behavioral, imaging, cloning/sequencing and molecular signalling work by the end of 2013, there's a good chance I'll have time to dabble in some epigenetics. So a week long course in it will be great for me. It doesn't hurt, either, that the conference is in Tuscany ;).
Our group of "Learning and Memory" within the Neuroscience department has started having a journal club amongst the PhD students. So far, we've only had one. Tomorrow we will be discussing the paper that I chose. We shall see how it goes, since I picked something that is beyond what I really do... But its been nice. Its interesting to learn about what else is going on amongst our group, since each one of us does very different research.
In January, one of my friends who was doing her Master's last year came back for graduation. It was so nice to see her, even though she was only here for a few days. It was great to catch up, talk about old times and how things have (or haven't) progressed since she went back to the States. Another friend from last year will be visiting and I'm HOPING more of my friends and family feel inspired to come this side of the Atlantic and either visit or travel!!! There's nothing better than meeting up in a European city with the people from back home that I love.
I've also been taking language classes through the Doctoral School. I couldn't decide between French and German, so decided to give both a try until I could figure out which suited me better. Its taken a month of language classes that I DON'T have time for, but I've decided that I will stick with French for now and try German in a few years. These classes are in preparation for reading articles in their original languages- which is 100% not why I want to take the classes. I'm just interested in speaking other languages. The German teacher is doing a fantastic job at preparing the class to translate papers, whereas the French teacher is teaching the class as if its a normal language class. And its simply the difference in teaching that makes me choose French. I don't have a lot of time to invest in learning another language, and German would take more effort on my part to really get something from the courses. So when I'm not teaching, or not experimenting as much, I'll start up the German classes again. I'm sad to be stopping it for now, but hopefully by the time I finish my PhD, I'll be proficient in Spanish, French, and German. And that would be awesome!
Besides all that, things are pretty much the same. I've been working hard, eating delicious food, and generally trying to make the most out of life and living in another country! Like going to comedy shows, showing Niners pride during the Superbowl, and getting fancy cocktails with friends. Oh, and playing in the snow (for the first time ever).
Our snowman :)
I've got a lot of things to look forward to- and not just the conferences or friends visiting that I've mentioned.
Ben and I will be going to a music festival in May and the line-up was just released. I'm currently listening to the bands to determine which I want to see most.
I have friends from home who are moving to Prague, and I fully intend on visiting them (and maybe hitting up Vienna along the way)
I have a summer vacation, that I haven't yet planned, that I'm already waiting for.
Ben and I are seeing the 49ers play a friendly game against the Jaguars in October.
And I will be going to Oktoberfest with Ben and friends for a proper German drinking experience!!!
Here's some of the delicious food I've been eating:
Spicy Coconut Chicken Casserole. Nom:
Almond Blueberry Granola. (the best granola recipe yet). Nomnom:
Greek Veggie Wraps (honestly can't get enough of these). Nomnomnom:
Lemon Cake with (homemade) lemon curd filling. Nomnomnomnom:
Vegetable Chow Mein. Omnom:
Pumpkin Coffee Cake. (because pumpkin is the most delicious thing ever). Omnomnom:
Stuffed Chicken (made this with poussin, my first time ever cooking it). Omnomnomnom:
So much nom-ing. I've also decided to try and work my way through the baking book I got for Christmas. So far, I've made pizza dough. It was nom.
Until next time!