I was scrolling through my IG feed today and realised that I barely posted pictures this year. Everything I did post was super meaningful though, imo, lol. Maybe this is just a part of growing up. Or maybe this is just because I didn't really have a lot of free time - compared to last year anyway. As most of you know, I started my Honours year this year and as of yesterday, I am officially done! woohoo!
Let's talk about Hons for a bit before I get to the much awaited photo blog lol. This year has literally been the most difficult intellectual year of my life. It was also arguably the most difficult year because of other reasons, but because I let go too easily of the past, this perception may be skewed. ANYWAY. I don't even know why the fuck I chose to do an Honours year because I never liked the idea of research, I didn't like the autonomy of the career and I didn't like being 'trapped' in a little room, ofc with other people, but ultimately with everyone doing their own thing - another reason why I could never survive an office job. But my perception of science was greatly changed in my time as a summer scholarship student there last year. Things are quite collaborative, and I was fortunate enough to choose such a lively and extroverted lab with such supportive members.
My supervisor was a hard ass. He's European and everything is like clockwork and is so precise. I would say something is 5 units and he would correct me in annoyance - it's 4.8 units. In all my presentations, I was interrogated about all things redox, whether it immediately related to my project or not. My work was nit picked, ripped apart and rebuilt. There were some days where I dreaded going into the lab. Heck, there was even a whole week where I actively avoided him because he was being a big meany lol :( but with these things being said, I have him to thank for being so hard on me this entire year. As many of people have told me, it's better to have your group members ridicule you than to be made a fool of in front of an examiner.
The 'intellectual conversations' we had during my berating actually turned out to be quite beneficial because I can tell you now, at least half the points we discussed in those sessions were brought up by examiners and because of those experiences, I was able to provide the best responses to my questions in my final talk yesterday.
I have loved all aspects of my Honours year. In hindsight I even came to appreciate the ridicule and the back lash and the 'you're not working hard enough's'. Another one of my supervisors, Gus, best guy, told me that he noticed I worked better when deadlines were near. To this I responded "diamonds are made under pressure" lol. But he said as a part of management, he's noticed how everyone in the lab works and 'motivates' them accordingly. I think my main supervisor knew this too and did so accordingly. Although, his execution of it was more harsh and there was never a debrief after a period of intense work where he said 'good work', or 'I did it to motivate you,' lol. Either way, I'm grateful that method worked for me and that I was able to produce the best work I could.
First class Honours or not, I am proud of my project and I am proud of my thesis and my presentations and everything. I think most importantly, I am proud of the person I have become this last year. Pre-honours I was very arrogant. I was very naive and tbh I was quite dumb lol. I don't want to say something corny like I was broken down and rebuilt or anything like that. I think that I was shown that I wasn't as 'good' as I was in my head. I learned how to learn again - in my undergrad, I would study the bare minimum and took a 'fake it til you make it' approach in front of my friends and my marks only just got me by. This year I took the time to understand the whole learning process. A machine does x function, but y,z,a,b,c,d variables help it to do so and if one thing goes wrong, you can't just give up and you can't just change methods - you need to take the time and sift through all the possible variables and troubleshoot and fix things and to be able to do this, you need to understand the entire process. I think that was the most valuable lesson I learnt this year. Also that C1V1=C2V2 LOL.
The scienctific process and the people in this lab have taught me how to think logically and this helped me so much with gamsat, with my writing and even with the way I approach life. I can't say that I've fallen in love with science and that it's now my passion and my dream. I have fallen in love with the scientific process, sure, and I want to use the transferable skills I've gained during this year and apply them to all aspects of my life. But what truly made this year so amazing was the people. I love my lab. I don't think any lab I join in the future will compare. I was so fortunate to be surrounded by such intelligent, compassionate, supportive and fun individuals. Every single one of them was there to answer my dumb questions and to put up with me. They not only answered my questions, but went above and beyond to explain the underlying concepts, to provide analogies and to even quiz me further to make sure I really understood what they were saying. They would check up on me when I looked down, hell, they would just check up on me in general to make sure I was on track. This meant the world to me because it showed me that they actually gave a shit about me and my education and my Honours year. I have nothing but respect and mountains of gratitude for every single person in my lab. I would not have had such an amazing experience if it weren't for them.
I have a great amount of respect for people in basic science research. In the future, I don't really want to become a clinician that looks at retrospective case studies on the prevalence of x,y or z in patients in the emergency department. When I do a PhD, I want to go back to these roots and find a novel pathway or a novel mechanism of cure or develop a diagnostic tool at the cellular level, because that's where it all starts, right? I love science and I love medicine. I hope that one day I can be reunited with these people as a clinician-scientist collaboration, or even as an intern/resident of some of the clinicians currently completing their PhD's. Like I said, I cannot express the amount of gratitude I have for everyone in my lab and at the Chang. Without them, this experience, and my experiences to come would not have been possible. Thank you.