Addicted to Lab

All I have I say is that I love coming to lab. Despite weather forecasts of torrential downpour here, I still initiated that I be dropped off at the bus stop so I could ride for over an hour to get to the lab.

I live being around the students in the lab because they are so focused, so driven, and willing to learn.

Besides, when I leave early, I get to school early and get to treat myself to some breakfast at Starbucks 🙂



Public Transportation

I think it is pretty well known how bad the traffic in Beijing can get. It can be described on one word: horrific. (Okay at times it may be fine but for the most part it is bad.) Example: when I was a student at UCLA, it would take me about 4 hours to go from campus to my house up in NorCal. This includes the shuttle to LAX, waiting for my flight (no delays), flying, and driving from SJC to where I live. This one particular day, I was waiting for my flight and decided to give my aunt a call. At the time, she was on her way to my grandparents house. This trip typically takes 40 minutes, an hour in light traffic. This day, though, by the time I had gotten to my house, unpacked, and rested, they were still on the road stuck in traffic.

Little tangent there, but only to illustrate my point: traffic can be pretty bad at times. If you add on public transportation, well, that in itself is a whole other ball game.

This morning, for example, in order to avoid traffic since I had to take the bus to lab, I left my aunt’s place at 7:15 AM. An hour and 15 minutes later, I finally made it to school. A couple days ago, I took the bus home from school too, and that trip took about an hour and a half.

I didn’t really have a goal in mind with this post. I just wanted to share my two cents on what it is like taking public transportation (the bus) in Beijing. It is actually quite liberating. I can run on my own time, of course keeping in mind traffic…

But overall the independence is nice. Like this morning, since I got to school early, I stopped by Starbucks for tea before going to lab. The only downside of being here in the middle of the summer? The weather is not great at all.


Breakfast this morning:


Research Papers

They are detailed. They are elaborate. They are written in all the languages of the world. Some are translated. Some are kept in their original language. But in the end, they are reviewed and they are shared.

These papers are written by PhD students passionate about their research. They are written by students who are driven and looking to share their passion with the world. These are students who devote their lives to answering the endless stream of questions that arise as a result of their work and published papers.

I am fortunate to be a part of this process. Maybe in the future I will be sitting behind my computer screen writing my own paper but for now my work lies in reading them. And the one I am working on this summer is written (and translated) by the PhD student I am shadowing.

It is the editing process that I am a part of. The content, I don’t fully understand. But even though I don’t understand the content of the paper entirely, she still asked me to help her edit the English version.

This isn’t really anything meaningful. Or maybe it is. But at least for me, I realized the other day editing her paper, after finally reaching the end of the 23 pages, that there is so much passion, so much dedication, and so much hard work that goes into writing each sentence, each paragraph, and into crafting the final published work of art.


It seems something minimal, a task anybody can do, but the sheer action of pressing until the first stop to retrieve the sample and then pressing until the second stop to dispel the sample into a new container is a laboratory technique that is invaluable. In my second day going to lab (the past few days I spent at home or at Starbucks editing a 23-page paper), I got to do some hands on work.

That work? Pipetting 2450 microliters of water into small test tubes. Many test tubes. The action was repetitive, might I even say boring. But it took some level of patience and technique in order to ensure the exact amount of liquid — no less, no more, no air — was transferred from one container to the next.

There isn’t anything else that is too exciting. I am still working on editing that paper and looking forward to doing more hands-on work in the lab this coming week. But on a side note, my cousin treated me to get my nails done! And I am the last person who would ever get their nails done — my friends know me as the kid who does anything and everything to avoid being dressed up/dolled up.



Posting for the first time from the other side of the Pacific Ocean!

This summer, I am spending time back at home. However, while my peers are spending their summers wisely taking classes or participating in research programs and internships, I had the option of just sitting around the house letting the summer waste away.

Instead of that, though, I found myself an opportunity to ‘intern’ in a university research lab. I say that it is an “internship” because it isn’t anything officially documented (a program or such) rather it is the direct translation from Chinese. Regardless of what it might be called, it is a great opportunity for me to learn lab techniques that I might not ever learn in the classroom back in the States, and gives me a chance to practice my Chinese as well.

In short, it is pretty neat. I went for the first time today and aside from sitting around reading and studying, I got to see part of a lab experiment. One of the PhD students I ‘shadowed’ today was purifying some of her samples for further experimentation later this week. Though I only saw a bit of the technique (a quite mundane part, might I add), it gave me the chance to see the lab techniques we learn about in class. What’s also interesting (at least I thought it was) is that science doesn’t change, regardless of the language spoken or where the lab is. The technique is the same. The experiments are the same. And thats what draws me to science and medicine; there is a universal language embedded within.

Along with being able to work in the lab and see experiments (and help as well!), I get to assist in writing research articles. The PhD student that I was assigned to by the professor’s that I am working in (this particular student seems to be the one that runs the lab and is in charge of other students) is in the midst of writing a paper and needs it to be translated into english. She asked me to help her out so I am taking the next couple of days to work on that. It is pretty exciting to even be able to lend a hand in the translation/editing of a research article.

All in all, it was a good day in the lab. Tomorrow has been devoted to studying the MCATs at the Starbucks near my cousin’s house. Though I am giving up spending a day at the park with my cousin and her boyfriend, I know it will pay off in the long run. These few days have consisted of endless amounts of joy and shopping and spending time with family that I need time to myself, to study and sort through my thoughts. Since Starbucks is so close, I might as well take advantage of it. Besides, I wouldn’t be the true me if a trip to a coffee shop to study wasn’t involved 🙂