I really have been sucking at this whole blogging thing lately. Even though it seems like I’m busy all the time, summer has made me lazy. While it’s true that I’m taking 5 hours of class and working in a lab for the summer and trying to have a social life, I do have a lot of free time. Unfortunately, I’ve been spending far too much of that free time sitting at home staring into my laptop’s screen. I’m not sure why I do it. It’s not like I’m doing anything important or interesting on the computer. For the most part, I’ve been browsing Buzzfeed, Thought Catalog and Google News. It’s really an incredibly, terribly boring existence. I shouldn’t keep it up, but I can’t help myself. Even though I tell myself that I want to do something, anything, I still find myself plopped down on the couch… or my bed… or at the kitchen table… mindlessly gaping at a computer screen. I hate that I do it, but I can’t seem to stop.
Well, a few weeks ago, I did do something other than stare at a computer screen. Unfortunately, because I spent the next few weeks staring at a computer screen again, I haven’t posted about it.
The something that I did a few weeks ago was a just-before-sunrise bike ride. Even though I rarely see the early morning (unless I’m still awake from the previous night), I really love sunrises. There’s something magical and beautiful about waking up with the birds and watching the morning’s light spread across the sky. It’s really exhilarating to be awake before almost anyone else (of course, you can get the same feeling when you’re on a college campus on a Saturday at 9 am, but that’s beside the point).
When I went on my early morning bike ride, I (of course) brought my camera to see what I could capture. Here are a few shots from that morning:
Last week, during my cell biology lab, we did an experiment that involved staining actin in cells with a fluorescent dye and visualizing the cells under a special type of microscope. A few hours ago, the TA for the class sent out some of the images that were taken during the lab. Call me crazy, but I think fluorescent microscopy is an art form. The intricate beauty of cells and proteins and tissues is on display, set apart from the background in bright, vibrant hues.
The images themselves end up being surreal, hazy compositions. The cells turn into translucent, amorphous balloons floating through the pitch-black night. Cells are huge, dominating, in these images. It’s hard to believe that each cell is only 10-15 microns across, about 1/5 the width of a hair.
A week ago today, I arrived back in the United States after a week-long trip to Costa Rica. It honestly seems so much more recent, and it still hasn’t completely hit me that I’ve been back in the US for as long as I was away. I’m honestly still experiencing a bit of reverse culture shock (look it up, it’s a thing).
I was in Costa Rica for a class that I’m taking this semester. It’s a really awesome opportunity, available only to people in my major, to study sustainable development in a place that has devoted itself (politically, at least) to pursuing environmentally friendly growth. The class involved a weekly seminar and a series of presentations, all leading up to a trip to Costa Rica over spring break. Over the course of the trip, we hiked through national parks, saw all sorts of tropical forests, including the absolutely fantastic cloud forest, toured various farms, including a large-scale pineapple farm and a sustainable coffee farm, visited a volcano, listened to lectures by biologists in the area… I could go on for days. The trip was packed with educational activities, and I know that I learned a lot from it. There’s something much more powerful about experiencing the world first hand instead of just reading about it in a classroom.
I honestly think that travel, if done correctly, is one of the easiest ways to broaden your horizons. I’ve gained something from every place I’ve ever been. I’ll never forget the trips that I’ve been lucky enough to go on, and Costa Rica is no exception. The people there are some of the most generous and welcoming individuals that I have ever met. Wherever we went, we heard people saying “pura vida”. It means literally “pure life” in spanish, and it’s become a sort of catchphrase in Costa Rica. It’s become a greeting and a goodbye, a general response to a wide number of social situations. I think that the phrase neatly sums up the joy and satisfaction of living life. It’s a way of saying things are good without getting too cheesy.
While I was in Costa Rica, I took a whopping 670 pictures (yes, I literally did take my camera everywhere). Here are a few favorites:
pura vida, everyone.
Sundays always seem to tend towards melancholy. All the fun of the weekend is over and everyone’s busy picking up the pieces and worrying about the coming Monday. Yesterday, the weather was cooperating perfectly with the somber mood on campus. Somehow, despite the fact that we have no class today (thanks, Martin Luther King Jr!), Sunday was still gray and gloomy on campus.
I managed to spend pretty much the entire day in my dorm room. I knitted, hung out with my roommate, and spent some quality time browsing the internet. It was incredibly peaceful, not something you get too often on a college campus. I also snapped a few pictures just for kicks. All of these were taken in my room yesterday afternoon.
I just got back to school after spending three weeks at home doing some combination of sleeping, working, crafting, reading, hanging with my family, and generally relaxing as much as humanly possible. Today, I had my first day of classes for the semester, and I’m loving being back on campus.
The first week of the new semester is generally known as “syllabus week”, because it’s used by most professors to hand out the syllabus and discuss in detail everything on it. Today, I spent two hours learning about course policies, grading scales, etc (my other two classes don’t start meeting until next week…yay). Syllabus week is one of the best parts of the semester. The professors don’t really give homework, labs don’t start up until a few weeks into the semester, and no one is studying for exams. It’s basically a great excuse to just catch up with friends and hang out at college without the pressure of studying/homework/etc.
Another benefit is that I generally have a bit of extra time to do things like go out and shoot (pictures, not people). Because it was beautiful out today, I grabbed my camera and walked around campus a bit this afternoon. On most Mondays, I won’t be able to do this because I have a physics lab scheduled from 4-7, so I decided to take advantage. Here’s what I came up with:
I really love the way the light looks just before sunset. The golden glow of late afternoon makes everything look good.