Life Lessons in Biology

Life Lessons in Biology

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Santa Monica College Campus

I know, I haven’t really been good about writing my blogs here. And I am completely sorry for that. This semester has been a total nightmare from the beginning. School is extremely challenging this spring. Well, not all of school, just biology in particular.

Let me start by telling you. I’ve never been into sciences. Not because I feel like I’m particularly bad at it but I have had extensive contact with biology or chemistry. Granted, I’ve taken two years of biology and a year of physics but my brush with the sciences has been rather brief.

My scientific career was also significantly shortened by changing school to a high school that was more focused on teaching me business administration than educating me to become a scientist.

Needless to say, when I sat in my first biology lecture and my teacher started her power-point presentation on hydrogen and ionic bonds, I was overwhelmed. And when we started our first laboratory, I thought I was going to give up.

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Basic Chemistry in Biology!

I’ve always tried to avoiding the American measurement system, but they forced me to convert inches to centimeters and fahrenheit to celsius. Luckily, I’m in the country, where they won’t hesitate to explain even the simplest concepts over and over again.

Now that it’s been about three weeks later. I’ve come to understand many of the basic chemistry that goes into biological processes and the lab experiments are pretty interesting.

However, it took me almost a week of not seeing sunlight and doing nothing but putting my head in the books for my first exam, which turned out to be a failure. I’ve extremely high standards for myself. Probably, because I’m not used to failing and I’ve just always been good at studying because I put intense effort into it. When I got my grade back (80%), I was devastated.

This was not the result I had expected for the amount of my time I had sacrificed. The result for the whole class were even more shocking. Almost 60% of the class had grades lower than Cs (which translates to a 4 in the German scale) and most of them had even failed the test. My 80% doesn’t seem so bad compared to other scores, but it’s nowhere near where I want to be.

I’ve learned to measure pH concentrations in our foods, looked at human blood and living plant cells under light microscopes and even made my own cheese, which tastes surprisingly a lot like cottage cheese.

This biology class hasn’t just taught me how the enzyme-substrate-complex works but it has given me a valuable life lesson. Even though I consider something a failure, doesn’t mean it really is. You just have to put things in a different perspective and look at it more closely. Just like you would look at a cell through a light microscope.

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“Cottege Cheese” we made in the laboratory

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Studying for Biology

Valentine’s Day week – Dinner and a couple of surprises

Valentine’s Day week – Dinner and a couple of surprises

IMG_5988I always know what’s going on around me. Mostly, because I make sure I know everything. It’s extremely hard to surprise me. I believe I’m good at noticing when somethings being planned and I’m quite good at figuring people out. But this week I was SO wrong! And it takes a lot for me to admit that.

Generally, I tend to underestimate my husband. And I feel extremely awful for saying that. He’s never given me a reason to do so. Especially, because he’s always come through with something special.

We had to do Valentine’s Day two days early because he had to go back to work on Friday. He informed me that we’d be going to dinner somewhere in Hollywood and the reservation was for 5:30 pm. My father-in-law and I were joking that it was “senior hour.” Justin tried to justify it with trying to avoid the horrific LA traffic.

For some reason, we only ended up leaving around 5 and we hit rush hour. When we got to Hollywood, we ended up parking in a lot where we had to give the time, when we’d pick up our car. Apparently (I was told that later), the valet guy asked “Are you going to the Pantages Theatre?”, to which Justin answered no. He told me later that he felt bad about lying but I didn’t hear this conversation at all.

As we were walking down the street, passing some fancy restaurants, I realized that we were heading straight for the Sushi restaurant we had been to before and we both hated. As soon as Justin realized the same, he turned around and we ended up eating at Katsuya. I’ve always wanted to go there but I thought it was too expensive.

I was teasing him all through dinner, that this is a typical cute and clumsy mistake. I felt extremely bad at the end of the evening because I had thought he just didn’t have time to remember that we’d been there. When really all of this was one, very well thought out plan.

Whenever we have Japanese food, it’s always super hard to find something for Justin to eat. Katsuya had rack of lamb on the menu, so the evening was saved. We ordered some interesting dishes: a very American mozzarella and crab tempura (Justin loved it, because it was a lot like mozzarella sticks), I had sushi topped with spicy fried shrimp. The drink I had was pretty yummy, too. It was a Kiwi & Gin mix.

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Kiwi Cocktail & Mozzarelle / Crab Tempura

I really wanted to order dessert and Justin kept looking at the time. Which made me feel weird, but I still didn’t suspect anything.

The plan was to go bar hopping in Hollywood, since we usually don’t go out in that neighborhood. But Justin sprung it on me that he wanted to go see a friend at the Frolic Room, which is a bar right next to the Pantages Theatre.  I wasn’t excited about that but he promised it would only be for a second. So as we walked up there, we saw a big commotion outside of the theatre as everyone was walking in. The conversation that follows went something along these lines:

Justin: “So what’s going on with all these people?”

Me: “They’re here to see the Book of Mormon. Maybe you’ve heard of it?” (He promised me we’d go twice before and never followed up. And when I asked him out for one of our first dates he said he didn’t want to go with me.)

Justin: “Cool! Maybe we can still go in?”

Me: “We’d need tickets.”

Justin:” You mean, tickets like these?!”

He pulled out two tickets out of his pocket and for the first time ever I was really surprised. It was such a great night, and even though we both decided that it didn’t quite live up to everyone’s hype, we still had so much fun.

On the actual Valentine’s Day, he managed to get me to work on set as a production assistant. So I got to spend that day with him. And after a 15-hour day he even stopped and got me flowers. Sometimes, I can’t believe that I’m so lucky. I need to appreciate him more.

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Rack of Lamb at Katsuya

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Sushi with Spicy Shrimp

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Pantages Theatre

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Pantages Theatre for the Book of Mormon

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Justin & I

Goodbye Germany – Hello Los Angeles!

Goodbye Germany – Hello Los Angeles!

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Sunset over Regensburg

Hello Everyone!

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog. That was mostly due to the fact that I finally got back to Los Angeles.

We left Germany in the early hours of the morning last Saturday and boarded a plane to LAX. The flight was pretty uneventful and somehow, I always like flying towards the west more than I like going east.

It feels easier flying all through daylight instead of having to fall asleep in a crammed, hot and smelly cabin with crying babies.

As soon as we touched down, we drove ourselves to Las Vegas, simply because we didn’t want our vacation to be over yet.

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The Rocky Mountains

2014 will be the year for change! The To-Do-List

2014 will be the year for change! The To-Do-List

I know I’m super late on this but I don’t believe in making a New Year’s resolution list simply because I won’t know what I want to change until the New Year rolls around.

Now that 2014 is already almost one year old, I have found a couple of things that I will be working on this year. I hope everything works out for the better but I will make sure you will be kept up to date!

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Our renovations

1) Renovating our apartment! 

Justin and I live in a pretty small studio apartment. The carpet is old, dirty and incredibly green, so it’s got to go. It will be replaced by some nice laminate in light birch.  We already picked out a new kitchen from Ikea, which we are putting in. The bathroom will be totally remodeled; new shower, new vanity and some more storage cabinets.

My father-in-law is also building me a shoe cabinet/closet which I’m extremely excited about!

We are sleeping on a murphy bed and if we have time, we might even take that out too! So many exciting changes in this apartment that are definitely necessary!

2) Weight loss!

2014 is finally the year when I’ll get into losing a couple of pounds. Let’s face it, I should probably lose more than a couple of pounds. Anyhow, I’m pretty motivated. One of the reasons is a friend of mine, who told me her success story. She really only diets during the semesters and lost a lot of weight doing that.

I’ve thought about which program I’d like to do. And I’ve decided I’m going with Weight Watchers. The apps for both iPad and iPhone make it really easy to track the points and the point system itself is super simple to follow.

3) Career change.

After many years of looking for what I want to do in my life, I have decided that I’d like to get into writing. Besides this blog, I’m starting to write a novel that I would like to finish by the end of this year and maybe see published some day. Unfortunately, I can’t give you any info on the story yet but maybe I’ll write a post about it some time.

I hope I will find a way of getting an internship in summer semester to further my career in Public Relations as well.

4) Wardrobe change.

This seems like a no-brainer together with the weight loss. However, I don’t just want to buy smaller clothes but I also want to wear more dresses. I feel like I’ve found which cuts fit me well and now I would like to buy more of them.

5) Travel more.

I have been traveling a lot in the last year but I’ve never gone anywhere outside of California and Nevada. My goal this year is to go see New York City and Washington D.C.

New York City is a fabulous city and I’d like to go back. Also, Washington D.C. has been a dream destination of mine for a while now. Let’s see if we can make this happen.

 

Some time next month I might put up a list of things I want to do that specifies it a little more.

I’m sure this year will be great and I’m looking forward to it with these changes along the way.

New Year’s Eve in Germany –  “Silvester Traditions”

New Year’s Eve in Germany – “Silvester Traditions”

2014_SnapseedNow, 2013 is gone and past. I hope all of you made it safely into the new year. While some of you are still nursing your hangovers, I thought I’d give you a little heads up on how we spent our New Year’s Eve or “Silvester” as we call it over here in Germany.

Honestly, as an immigrated Angeleno, I’ve already adjusted to it being warm out so we decided to stay in. Nevertheless, we did take some time between all the drinking to celebrate some very German New Year’s Eve traditions.

We started our evening out by a traditional German family-style meal – “Raclette“. Some of you might already know what that is, for people who don’t, I’ll give you a quick explanation. Every participant gets one or two little pans that are put under a small table grill. You can fill your little pan to your liking with mushrooms, meat or other vegetables and cook it au gratin it with a special Raclette cheese.

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Vegetables we used: Green bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and onions.

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Our raclette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After dinner we decided to try our luck in another, admittedly weird, tradition. We Germans like to call it “Bleigießen”. You can buy pre-made sets of spoon and small lead figurines. The lead figurines are then melted on said spoon over

a small candle or flame. Once they are liquified, we poor the hot lead into cold water. The lead, cooled into weird shapes, is taken out and interpreted according to a small booklet that accompanies set.  A stork could mean fertility, a tree means stability; you get the drill.

As the clock struck midnight, we went outside to watch the fireworks. Unfortunately, the fog prohibited us from seeing the city’s fireworks. However, as everyone can shoot rockets, we got to see all our

neighbors blow up the one’s they had bought.

All in all, our New Year’s Eve was pretty normal and uneventful but I guess that’s some of the charm of Germany. At least according to my husband. He had a blast.