Footprints to the stars

Hello everyone :),

I have some recent bad news, and some week-long good news. Why not start with the bad first, so I can go onto everything that was great this week?

The bad news is that I possibly gave myself a stress fracture in my foot. I am off to the Newton/Wellesley hospital right now to get an x-ray for it (driven by the wonderful Sarah from the track team), but that has me a bit down, because it means I don’t get to race in the 4 by 400m relay tomorrow at our last meet. It also means I don’t get to go to the MIT/Wellesley concert with Tiffany and Sara, which would have been quite an event as I would have been getting off-campus :). Ah well, what can you do? The pain came on suddenly yesterday when I was practicing, so I’ll have to wait for the x-ray results to come back.

On the other hand, this week has been wonderful :). Saturday was NEWMACs, and the weather and performances were excellent! I dropped another second on my 400m, ran my 4 by 400m faster, and there were whole-minute drops and other amazing feats (including new school records :)) by the team. You should check out the results here—everyone did so well! The rest of the time, I bathed with the team in the sun and cheered for our runners. It was such a marvelous day that I considered it to be my birthday day, instead of Sunday :).

Which brings me to Sunday, which was my birthday! The majority of it was rather boring, as track meets on Saturday leave me with Sunday to do homework. However, I then received a happy call from my family (my mother told me she attempted to post on this blog, but couldn’t get past the “are you a robot” question), two awesome cards from extended family, balloons on my door, and a fruit basket from Tiffany (thank you so much, everyone!)

Moreover, we had our end-of-the-year swimming banquet on Sunday. It was great to see the team again! We revealed who our secret psychers were (the people who we’ve been making presents for all year) and exchanged paper plate awards. The paper plates are decorated with “Most likely to [blank]” filled in for each person; mine was double-sided, and I got “eat the dining halls out of fruit” and “most likely to give a pep talk on the way to breakfast.” (Thank you, Ika :).) We also looked at photos for the year (there were some good ones :)) and then… Tiffany brought out a beautiful cake! It had strawberries in it and chocolate strawberries on top (YES!) and everyone sang to me (*warm fuzzies right here*.) So all in all it turned out to be a wonderful birthday, and I’m so grateful to everyone who wished me a happy birthday and made the day special :).

Thank you so much.

Swim team assembling photos :). Tiffany, Annie, Karina, Kathryn, Erin

Paper plate-- thank you Ika!

So that was Sunday :). Monday and Tuesday weren’t extremely eventful for me—I was basically trying to finish two lab reports, so besides track and class as usual, nothing to report.

But one happy thing did happen on Tuesday-- our Bio 112 class photo! This is a seminar that's only 16-people strong, taught by Prof LaBonte, and it's been one of the best classes I've taken at Wellesley.

Wednesday, however, I got another surprise :). I finished three of my swimming lessons on Wednesday (each sets of ten 30-minute lessons), and one of them gave me a gift! Nora, who is eight, gave me a hand-made card and flowers; I confess to carrying them around so I could show everyone and have them cooed over ;). They were adorable though, and I’m now afraid I’m running out of wall space to hang cards in my dorm!

Swim lockers, swim lessons, flowers and a card. Life is GOOD.

Please coo. I remember writing these.

Monica's life in a nutshell. Organized, academic due dates taped to the back wall, binder with all my work from the past year on the left, flowers, birthday cards, red pocket money, on top of my Wellesley sports jacket, science textbooks, U of MN bag, Christmas present from Tiffany of us being crazy, different colored pens, Onecard. I like it so much.

Thursday was really fun because after track practice, I walked into the campus center and saw all the usual athletes… in dresses! We had our annual athlete scholar recognition program, and it was so fun (and at the same time very startling) to see everyone dressed up. I unfortunately could not attend: I got to do a Bio 110/112 Lab Practical instead, but I made it through. On the other hand, the earlier part of my Thursday was great. I attended my last Neuro 100 lecture (in which we learned about scientific responsibility and the history of neuroscience), attended my last office hours with Professor Conway, and found out I was accepted into SERP (Sophomore Early Research Program!) This means that you guys are going to be hearing a LOT more on Professor Conway and his research next year—I will be in a new research group! (Though I am sad to be parting with Professor A’s—more on that later.)

Thursday’s last neuro practicum was so enjoyable as well. I don’t know if I’ve spoken a lot on what we’ve been doing in neuro practicum for the past three sessions, but it differs markedly from what we were doing in the majority of the year. For the past three sessions, we’ve been meeting in small groups of 8 with Research Associate Jeanne Benton, who has been coaching us through a case study (who we’ve established has multiple sclerosis.) I have loved the experience, because it’s very interesting to research and diagnose someone, the environment has been so welcoming, I love working in small groups, Jeannie has brought cheese and fruit every time (I love cheese and fruit. They’re approximately my two favorite healthy foods ever), and the girls I’m working with are awesome (as are almost all of the people I’ve encountered at Wellesley.) This kind of class—small, interactive, intelligent, fun— is what I quintessentially think Wellesley should be like; and I’ve found more opportunity to create interactions like this at Wellesley than anywhere else (see my discussions of Prof. A’s research lab, Prof. A’s class, Prof. Reisberg’s lab, friends from Prof Mattila’s lab, swim team, track team, etc.) Then, at the end of all this great discussion, we got called down to Sage Lounge where Ginny (our normal practicum professor—I’ll be seeing her next in Neuro 200, which I’m excited for because she’s an excellent teacher) had brought us brain cupcakes. And you’re not reading that wrong—her sister-in-law had made cupcakes, and molded white chocolate and dyed it pink to be placed on top. They were obviously amazing.

Cathy, Yuna, me, Yeon, Bem, Grace, Kristina!

BRAIN CUPCAKES! So exciting.

And Professor Dry and I had our last singing lesson on Thursday! I was very sad to see the last of her; I really enjoyed Professor Dry as a music teacher this semester. Plus, she still needs to teach me vibrato! Unfortunately, however, I need to take a music class next year if I wish to take private lessons, and I simply don’t have the time (ah, science majors :)). So as of right now I am undecided about whether or not to continue singing—I shall let you know how that gets resolved!

Friday, today, was our last day of classes :). I walked into the Science Center only to see that it had exploded in red! Apparently, every year the senior class plays a senior prank, and the Class of 2012 had gone out in style (apparently they did Pendleton Hall too, as well as the Athletic training room—I am sorry to have missed it there.)  Since each class has its own color along with the school blue (Class of 2015 is yellow, 2014 is purple, 2013 is green, and now 2016 will be red again), the seniors had hung streamers everywhere and done serious decorating since the time I left the science center last night (11pm) to when I got there the next morning (11am). I’ve copious pictures for proof—it was quite astounding.

Today was also fun because we had our last research group meeting with Professor A and Esther, the graduate student who’s been here from Germany. I am very sad to leave his lab, because I now have a much better understanding of what is going on, and because I love all the people in his lab :(. I shall definitely be visiting this summer, when I am working in Professor Higgins lab (I saw her today at the KSC and said hi!)

THE ULTRAHIGH VACUUM CHAMBER CAME IN! I totally wouldn't have appreciate this in the beginning of the year, but the significance is huge :).

Right half of the table :). Esther, me, Karen, Sitara, Audrey, Katherine, Nathalie, Kather


Today I also met with Professor LaBonte to go over my final research paper for her. We’ve progressed so far this semester—in the beginning of January, I couldn’t read or write a scientific paper, and now I can do both. It’s so exciting. Anyway, she helped me with it, and I proceeded to spend the next few hours working on making my figures beautiful. A waste of time, naturally, but I must say that my figures look pretty darn great.

I also introduced myself to Professor Dolce on the way out—I’d never met her before except through long email chains back and forth. When I was having trouble figuring out my lab report earlier this month, I emailed her, even though she wasn’t my teacher. She was extraordinarily responsive and helpful, and I think she is a great example of what Wellesley has to offer in terms of support and great professors. I hope I get to take a class with her someday!

Then came the visit to the Sports Center to check out my foot (which I’d been limping on.) Dr. Wilson (one of our athletic trainers—she just got her phD yesterday, so everyone’s very excited) was very helpful and kind, my coaches were understanding, and my teammates were all very supportive. The hospital, too, was very efficient! All’s going as well as it could, though I’m dreading the stress-fracture boot a little ;). It’s just that it draws so much attention…. However, Karen (a professor who works in Prof A’s lab) tells me that this will make me swim with her over the summer though, instead of run, which will be fun. Look out for some open-water swims in the future!

Otherwise, I can’t believe this is the end of my freshman year of college. I can’t say it went by quickly, but I’ve got to say that I think it’s been one of my most challenging, and yet, happiest. I’ve learned so much over this year academically and personally, and I feel that I’m calmer, more optimistic, smarter, and a little bit wiser than I was last year. Everyone says that college is the best years of your life: yet many of my friends said freshman year was the hardest, and Professor Buchholtz memorably told us that everyone spends too much time studying to enjoy it properly :). I think that there’s truth in both, but it’s wonderful all the same :).

Comments are, as always, welcome, as are well wishes as I go into finals period next week!

Best wishes to all,


No idea what the eagle thing is, but so awesome! Also, bone crossing on the 3rd floor?

So cool!

This is awesome. I'm pretty sure it says "Be afraid. Be very afraid."

Have to say, I'm a fan of the eye. I'm also really curious how they got the garbage bags on there...

ps, Please forgive the emoticons in this post. I know I’m excessive :). As a note, the next post will be much shorter, since this one took me WAY over 2 hours…

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