Friday, August 22, 2014

Looking Back: My Glasses Don't Need to be Rose-colored

It is official; I survived a summer alone in France. Before this summer, I had never travelled further than the next state by myself, let alone to a foreign country. Honestly, at some point in mid-July, I found myself sitting in my apartment wondering why I didn't just stay home and participate in the SURE program. I would have been able speak to my family without worrying about the time difference, or hang out with my friends after work, or not have to worry about a language barrier. However, I soon realized that the positive outweighed the negative. In fact, the negative aspects of my time in France were quite negligible. I was able to adjust to the time difference and my French improved significantly. I combated my introverted nature and met some new people (even people on the metro). My time in France became more than just an internship; it was a major life experience.
I conducted some amazing research and interacted with some truly talented scientists at Hopital Saint-Louis and the Curie Institute. My project was a joint effort between the two institutions to investigate the dynamics of proteins in the nuclear pore complex in order to ascertain if there are effects on nuclear export. It was such an amazing opportunity that allowed me to go from knowing absolutely nothing about microscopy to exclusively conducting microscopy experiments.
When I wasn't working hard, I got to play hard. My leisure time was full of adventures: from exploring the beautiful city of Paris (with its spectacular museums, parks, and monuments), to visiting the extravagant palace at Versailles, to relaxing in the south of France on the Mediterranean coast, to just finding a cool new (cheap) place to eat.
I learned so much from participating in IRES, not just about science, but also about myself, and how important it is to explore new places. I wish I could do it again.
The Notre Dame of Paris
The Gardens at the Royal Palace at Versailles
Canal St-Martin near Hopital St-Louis
The Thinker, Musee Rodin

Moulin Rouge

The Calanques, Marseilles

Old Port, Marseilles

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Part 2: FOOD :)

First, an update with my research. My research has hit a roadblock because I'm not allowed to order some reagents. Apparently, one of them was recently outlawed in Korea due to safety reasons and the other must be imported and so was too expensive. I've been given a new project to try to see oxo-formation with some of my polyoxometalate complexes. It's been challenging to learn the new instruments and the fundamentals behind the chemistry, but it's been enjoyable regardless. 

After being here in Korea for almost 6 weeks, I have to definitely say that this has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I'll go into some detail about various aspects Korea life.

The Food: The food here is amazingly cheap and so easily accessible. My area, Sinchon, is a very college oriented city that has a thriving nightlife and food scene.I can go eat almost anything, from traditional korean food/bbq to even Indian food. Additionally, another perk is the incredible delivery service that Korea offers. Besides being able to order the typical jajjangmyun (black bean noodles), I found out I could order McDonalds. I was the happiest guy in the world when my meal came in 2am. Yes, they're also 24 hours. I couldn't help to think about America's obesity rate if we had this service.

I could post some food pictures but I have too many. Here are a few:

 Kimchee Tofu

Duck BBQ 

Awesome Pasta

An amazing delivery story: I once ordered jajjangmyun and jampong (spicy noodles w/ seafood) via phone. I proceeded to watch one video on my bed and then, got a phone call. They had literally delivered my food in 5 minutes. Yes, no exaggeration. It was incredible and a testament of Korea's speed and efficiency.

The Desserts: This deserves its own paragraph because of its sheer awesomeness. Korea has a very strong culture of eating desserts after EVERY meal. Literally on every block, there will be a coffee shop that boasts all kinds of cakes, ice creams, and drinks. Basically, everyone goes to these coffee shops to get everything but coffee. However, I fell in love with one of Korea's staples, Bingsoo. Imagine snow, topped with various toppings and condensed milk (No, its not a snow cone). Though I had eaten it in America before, I was surprised at their stark difference in quality. 

As you can see, I love BINGSOO.

I'll stop here about to food. Next time, I'll talk a little more about the culture.