Summer Storms (Weeks 3-4)

It’s been raining a lot but we finally started lab this week!  I’ve been keeping a notebook of things that KMU does similarly and differently than at Cal Poly. It’s been keeping me grounded and allowed me to understand the privileges I have as a U.S. student. Dr. Li and our grad student, Kelly, are having us focus on how the FOXA2 gene affects cancer cell migration in three different cancer cell lines. To prep for this, Kat and I have been asked to find papers on FOXA2. The papers I’ve been finding suggest different things for different cancers; the loss of the gene helps with migration in some and the over-expression of the gene stops migration in others. We’ve been given an outline of the entirety of the project and it’s exciting to dive back into a wet lab experience again. The other cohorts and I are also planning weekends to visit the other parts of Taiwan. Though, exploring Kaohsiung is a feat on its own. The different districts all have their own personality and it reminds me a lot of the suburbs of Los Angeles. Growing up in the suburbs of East LA, it’s been easy to pick up on the different socioeconomic standings of neighborhoods and I find myself doing the same here. My Mandarin is slowly coming back and the locals are really surprised about my ability! A lot of them think I’m from Singapore. The rain let up on Friday and just in time for the weekend. We went back to Cijin Island and rented a motorized bicycle, cruising through the tourist areas we weren’t able to visit while Matt was here. We also visited Lotus Pond, where the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas are. For dinner, we went to Ruifeng and Rehe night markets – which are a must-do when the rain finally stops. The rain is supposed to pick back up again, but Kelly says the next coming weeks are going to be sunny and very, very hot. Watching the World Cup in a different country has also been exciting. It’s not as popular as I thought it’d be, but the German and French national teams have a strong following here. 

Amitabha Buddha at Fo Guang Shan
Family movie night – Incredibles 2 was amazing!
Tiger and Dragon Pagodas! Enter from the dragon and exit out the tiger.

I’ve noticed a stark difference between the U.S. and Taiwan is the plastic use. It dominates everything. When I order street dumplings, they get put in a plastic bag and that plastic bag gets put in another plastic bag. I’ve been more cognizant in asking for just the necessary amount of plastic and hopefully I will be playing my part in reducing excess waste. A lot of take out is similar to home, though, where it is all about convenience and ease of use rather than the overall footprint of the take out package. This week in lab, we experience a lot of trial and error – where some thing succeeded and other took a step back. Working in a wet lab, we can only do so much in that we’re dependent on cell growth to move forward. Kelly, Kat, and I were able to teach each other different things about microbiology techniques and cell culture techniques as well as how research works in the U.S. and in Taiwan. For me, there’s a lot of subtle differences between how things are done in KMU versus how I was taught to perform lab protocols. Though, the end result is the same and I’m really excited to be moving forward in this project. This week, the other cohorts and I also explored more of Kaohsiung, going to different areas for dinner other than what surrounds KMU. We also went to Fo Guang Shan Temple, a sight for the eyes and a quiet area to just relax and be more spiritual. We’re almost halfway through the summer and I feel like we just got here. Though, the next six weeks are going to be jam packed with things to do now that KMU is out of school. Current mood: Sun tired but happy for what’s to come (and the next FIFA matches) – Brendon 

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