Well, summer break is almost over. Soon, I’ll be a sophomore at Duke University, back into the busy flow of college life!
Before I return, there were just a few things about my summer I wanted to reflect upon and share with you all. It’s been quite a long, somewhat slow summer, considering this was my first time having 4 months off. College sure gives us a lot of breaks, yet somehow, it can still be much busier than high school! But I will not complain. I’m glad I had so much time to experience a variety of different things that have helped me learn more about myself and the people around me.
Here are the most prominent parts of my 4-month summer vacation—
- Studying Abroad in Spain
Earlier this summer, I spent 6 weeks in Spain, taking an intensive Spanish course with the “Duke in Alicante” program. I took the class at a University in Alicante, Spain, and lived with a Spanish-speaking host-mom nearby.
And it was quite the experience! Being in a Spanish-speaking country really helped me improve my Spanish skills, especially my Spanish-speaking skills. I would say that the relationship I’ve built with my host mom has been the best part. She speaks zero English so it’s been quite an experience getting to know a person by communicating with them in a different language. Hehe, I have quite a bit to say about my host mom…she was nice but she could be very direct and a little rude. For example she would talk too fast and sometimes, I’d have to ask her to repeat herself. Whenever I told her to “repite, por favor,” she would roll her eyes before repeating in a more, firm tone. Well, that’s a little rude, especially since she would always ask me to repeat myself because I had a very strong white accent when I spoke Spanish, and she would have a hard time understanding me. This was quite annoying, because she had her children and grand-children come over, and whenever I would speak to them, they never asked me to repeat myself! They had no trouble understanding the basic sentences I spoke to them in Spanish, and I could have conversations with them in Spanish without either of us having to repeat myself. I guess my host-mom just has a problem understanding people in general, considering she was very old. She would always give me those weird looks and ask me 2-3 times to repeat myself and at times, she would laugh at my terrible accent instead of being patient and helping me. But overall I did like her! She had a very flexible schedule and was very hospitable to me so I’m not going to complain.
The two teachers in my Spanish class were very sweet and friendly, and I won’t forget the relationships I’ve built with both of them. I even got to meet a pediatrician in Alicante, and got to interview her about the differences between the doctors in Spain and the doctors in America! Oh, if only I had started this blog much sooner, I would have a lot to say about what we had learned. Perhaps I can save that for another post!
I had a ton of other awesome adventures in Spain, including a weekend trip to Valencia, Madrid, Granada, a Spanish high school, the University of Alicante, and a chocolate factory! I could elaborate on so much, but again, I’ll save it all for future posts so that I can talk about other awesome summer adventures.
- Writing my Genotopia novels
As soon as I was on break, I had two weeks to spend time with my family in California before I flew off to Spain. During those two weeks, I spent most of my personal time finishing up the first draft of Genotopia novel 1 (I have yet to decide on a title). Then after I returned from Spain, I spent each day, self-editing a chapter or two from that novel. Finally, I was glad to say I was ready to send Novel 1 to beta readers before I hand it off to editors.
Then, a few weeks later, I finished up 2 work-in-progress manuscripts and by Wednesday afternoon, I had the first drafts of Novel 2 and Novel 3 finished. These novels are not in chronological order, but they take place in the same world of Genotopia. So as I had mentioned in an earlier post, I am planning to have Novel 2 published since I’ve become fond of this story during the writing process. Although Novel 1 is the one that’s most ready, I feel like Novel 2 would do a better job introducing readers to the world I am writing about. Since I don’t like to mix novel-writing with school and homework, I’ll be self-editing that one as soon as Christmas break begins!
- Starting this Blog
I didn’t start blogging more until after I came back from Spain, and after I finished self-editing Novel 1. And I really wished I had blogged about my adventures earlier this summer! I never realized how much I could enjoy writing up blogs that reflected my thoughts, passions, and future plans. I was never interested in the idea of writing about myself, since most of the things I write about are fictional stories planned out by my crazy imagination.
But I guess I was more motivated to try blogging a bit, once my summer started slowing down after I was done studying abroad. I decided I could use blogging as a way to organize my crazy thoughts about my plans and passions. I already think a lot about how I’m going to make the best out of my research experience in genetics and stem cells at Duke, as well as how I can expand my knowledge of medicine and the medical professions. So I decided, why not use blogging as a way to organize everything I’m learning about health, medicine, medical research, and everything else that goes through my head? I could be helping people at the same time, since everything that I learn in my research can also be shared to inform the general public! So yes, now I have a variety of topics I can passionately blog about. I hope my future posts will help you learn more about health and variety of other science topics, just as I hope they will help me organize and reflect on everything I’m learning about J
- Shadowing an Orthopedic Surgeon
In the last two months of my summer, I shadowed an orthopedic surgeon in my local county. I visited his clinic Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I’ve seen all kinds of different cases, including multiple carpal tunnel surgeries and a surgery involving the excision of pre-patellar bursa. But besides the surgeries I’ve seen, I would say my favorite experience was expanding my knowledge of our healthcare system and its effect on doctors. This ortho surgeon was also in law school, because he was fed up with the way our healthcare system was affecting his career and his patients’ opportunities for treatment. We’ve had some good conversations about these topics, which I will be eager to expand upon in future posts once I’m in the mood to share my opinions about healthcare!
That just about wraps up the most prominent things I have done this summer. Yes, it was a long 4 months, and I did have a lot of time to dedicate to activities I am passionate about. But at the same time, it did feel quite fast. Looking back, I feel like summer just flew by. I guess that’s just what happens as we get older—time starts to go by faster and faster!
Nevertheless, I am looking forward to returning to Duke. It’s been a good summer, and I can’t wait to see how next year will turn out like! I know it will come faster than I’ll expect.