YEAR FOUR: HYGGE
(danish): feeling of coziness; encompasses an entire way of living that promises warmth, safety and, most important, community
Senior year has flown by - in fact, the past four years feel like they just started yesterday. Does that mean I'm getting old? Senior year has been tough, but when I drive away from UW (and Washington) four days after graduation, I'll look in the rearview mirror and feel relaxed, knowing I've been able to find a bit of hygge while here.
Academic: Drugging Mutant Flies
I needed to take a genetics class for my biochemistry coursework - either a 3 credit class or a 5 credit class. Initially, I was going to go for the 3 credit class because I had heard the 5 credit class was infinitely harder. However, after some nudging from people who said Genome 371's professor was the best professor at UW, I decided to go for it and take the harder class. I am so glad I did. I absolutely loved genetics and the professor, Raghu, was definitely one of the best (if not the best) instructor I've had at UW. He deeply cared about our learning and was eager to explain things when we didn't understand.
I was determined to do well in this class, and I went to office hours every week and I think my grades were higher because of it. Shown below, a particularly hard question on a "mini-test." I struggled with this concept in lecture and office hours in the days before the test, but my dedication paid off with the "good" note from Raghu on my answer to part b!
Another great aspect of the class was the quiz sections, which were essentially labs. One big project we did was drug flies, choose mutants, mate the mutants, and then look at the progeny. We were trying to track transposable elements, or "hopping" areas of DNA that can change the phenotype, depending on where the DNA "hops" around the genome.
We looked for males (black spot on end of body), females (no black spot), flies with red eyes, flies with white eyes, flies with straight wings, and flies with curly wings. All of these findings meant one thing or another about the mutation and if this transposable element had "hopped." I really appreciated the hands on component of this lab, and felt I really got to learn by doing rather than just memorizing or reading about the process.
Of course, this class was not without its issues. The night before our midterm, I had somewhat of a mental breakdown and ended up crying in my friend's room for a good hour (she's truly the best and has helped me through a lot). Looking back on this now, I definitely know I didn't get the score I wanted on the midterm because of how rattled I was the night before. And I also know that anxiety was once again affecting my academic and personal life. (See other column!)
Personal: Anxiety 2 - Return of the Anxiety
As referenced in my learning statement, fall quarter of my senior year was perhaps the hardest quarter I encountered throughout college. While I took one of my favorite classes (see other column), I took on too much in other areas of my life - my ad hoc project to finish my Honors and anthropology coursework was overwhelming, physical chemistry was a nightmare (even though it ended up being more interesting than I anticipated), being a Peer Educator again was very rewarding but very time consuming, and... my anxiety was back with a vengeance.
This was largely due to some personal issues I left unresolved for too long, but the general political climate during fall 2016 didn't help either. The day after the election, I rushed to cry in the bathroom of the chemistry building while my favorite lab member came in shortly after to comfort me. All my makeup was streaking down my face and it was only 11am! The rest of that day was similar, and I was appreciative of the professors (namely, the Honors advisers and my anthropology professors) who forgot the day's educational needs and focused on our personal ones. That night, I joined the protest in the U District and felt a variety of things - power, despair, hope, community, release, fear, love. Pictured below are: the masses of people who took to the streets, a selfie (flower courtesy of a friend who saw I needed it; photo requested by my mom who "wanted to see if she saw me on the news!"), and the gathering of people outside of Suzzallo who made UW feel safe for the day.
Admittedly, the election was only a minor mental catastrophe compared to some of the other sludge my restless brain walked through that quarter, but the days following Trump's win was a reminder that community can be found when it is needed. All I needed was to ask for it. And I've been good since.
Other highlights this year were:
- being a Peer Educator again for a lovely group of freshmen
- studying for the MCAT for three intense and stressful months
- absolutely crushing the MCAT
- seeing my brother get married!
- starting to apply to medical school
- creating a podcast for my ad hoc Honors project in an Anthropology course on climate change and indigenous science
- observing at Seattle Children's Hospital