One of the thing that I’m enjoying from this experience is the culture and the people I’m meeting. Although the languages and science are similar in some ways, back home I don’t think I would have had some of the unique interactions I had here; both with people and daily life unexpected situations. You know the rules and basics of how things work in your home town, but you are taken out of your comfort zone and experience things through the eyes of others. This in turn is helping me mold the way that I think and interact with science and my surroundings. For example, we can get used to solving problems a certain way and because people around us think similarly we tend to stay within a certain restriction of thinking. By doing research in another country, along with the kindness and patients of mentors and other students, I can definitely say this experience will make an impact on the way I approach my studies and work when I get back home.
These past few weeks I’ve gotten to do a mixture of things both in the lab and culture exploration; which included eating delicious food. When we arrived to Ensenada a three-day immunology course was being offered on campus and they let us join the rest of the students. The forum set up was similar to the ones back home, but hearing the lectures in Spanish was interesting. The science terms were similar, but the cultural perspective of the professor’s lecture on how to view science was different. This week I also got a chance to meet a couple of the people in our living area, and we played pool. They mentioned there were algal blooms earlier that week and invited me to walk down and watch the bioluminescence with them. We managed to see a bright blue glow on a couple of the stronger waves, which was awesome. I also got to see sharks that were in the neighboring building where we are currently training. I saw how they collected blood samples from two sharks and then observed their procedure of analyzing shark antibodies. On our first weekend there, Marisela and I decided to go down to the malecon on the bus. We went to see a couple of museums and walked around the area. We found a good taco spot and I got a chocolate filled churro! On the walk to the bus we took a boat ride to see the seals and a couple of wild dolphins. That was pretty cool.
In the lab, I learned both through practice and observation the basics of the Bradford Assay and how to analyze the results. From these results, I then went on to learn SDS-PAGE and Western Blot techniques. Something that I’m working on currently is cancer epithelial cell culture techniques; which I’ve never done before and I am very excited about. We also attend weekly research meetings and research presentations during the week when they are available. As far as exercise, we do a lot of walking here. We walk to the super market, to catch the bus, finding a new taco stand, and uphill/downhill daily incline walks to the research building that take us about 10 minutes. It’s been a great work out so far, and I think I’m getting used to it now. I look forward to the rest of my experience here and the project that I will be working on.
View from the library and the walk down to catch the bus
Culture and Museums
The walk home from grocery store