Oh Lord, I’m stuck in Lodi again

The quarter is finally, FINALLY over, and I’m happily back in Lodi. The last 10 weeks have been an experience to say the least, and while it was perhaps not the most pleasant I’ve definitely learned a lot about what I can and can’t handle and what I need to do to stay happy.

From an academic standpoint, the hardest part of the quarter wasn’t the material of the class but simply that I didn’t have a class I enjoyed. I can’t get excited about Organic Chemistry or Molecular Biology, I simply am not interested in science on that small of a scale. Statistics was appallingly easy, and Physics quickly went from most hated to favorite class… Until the first midterm, when we found that the teacher wasn’t testing us on anything related to homework or lecture. By the end of the quarter I was burned out and going through my usual circular mindset of “I must be terrible at science, I don’t like these classes, I should just switch to Comparative Literature and do something I’m good at”. Luckily I had my research with Blair to keep me working and inspired, but that brought it’s own problems.

From a pure time management standpoint, I made the quarter as hard on myself as I probably could without failing. I wanted to find my limits, and I hit them hard. Balancing 21 units, research in a whole new field, acting as Secretary for a highly active club and maintaining a long distance relationship stretched my organizing skills almost to the breaking point. I’ve realized that no matter how hard I work there’s only 24 hours in the day and deadlines don’t always wait until after the weekend when you’ve got a little extra time. Research was what kept me inspired to work at the rest of my classes, but taking the time to spend in lab meant I was sacrificing a lot of sleep.

And then there was being sick. I think I felt good the first week, and finals week. After three weeks of going *almost* completely gluten free (recently found out my “gluten free” bread from Trader Joe’s has wheat in it – see if I trust that gluten free list again) my cough is almost gone, I’ve been able to go running again and I’ve lost 11 pounds – back down to the weight I was in high school when I danced on the Drill team 5 days a week. I had forgotten how good it feels to finally be feeling good again, my head doesn’t feel cloudy and my train of thought isn’t being interrupted every two minutes as I cough up a lung. I’m dealing with some anger towards my condition – I feel like this quarter would have been easier if I wasn’t sick, plus all the holiday food isn’t making the transition easy. I’m incredibly lucky to have parents who are understanding: they don’t care that my grades might not be perfect, and not only is my house gluten free, my mom is supporting my choice to stay vegetarian.

So I learned a lot this year, but that doesn’t mean much if I can’t apply that knowledge. Next quarter I’m taking 15 units, taking a step back to get used to the extra time required in maintaining a gluten free diet and to make sure that my GPA doesn’t suffer. I’m looking forward to starting EEMB, which is a little more up my alley, and taking a seminar taught by my lab professor for the 3 week research cruise I’m going on in September. I’m planning on being a little more useful to Blair next quarter, and the extra hours mean I can maintain my financial independence from my parents (they’re still suffering the state budget cuts) and still afford a plane ticket to Manchester over spring break 😉 I know my limits now, and I’m not going to try to exceed them again. I’m not superwoman – I’ll leave that job to Madison!

Posted in 2010-2011, EUREKA

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Alex Iteen is a second year student majoring in Biology. He is interested in bioengineering and synthetic biology. He is currently working in Dr. Fygenson's lab on DNA nanotubes.
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