Materials Girl: Catching up

Mar 27, 2019
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Posted on behalf of Materials Girl

Previously, summer class and the flurry of conference posts have been an excuse for my lack of posting. But, like Neil, I need to get back to it. So much has happened in my academic world since my last post! Does a personal Twitter feed with periodic chemistry references count as updates?

In May, we were drowning in midterms and the doom of upcoming finals. Merely weeks later, I discovered that my last chemistry exam was over and I was running off to multiple commencements, amidst moving out of a surprisingly stuffed little dorm room. Somewhere between the madness and sentence fragments, it suddenly hit me that I had GRADUATED.

Where did the last four years go? My memories are of sweat, blood, and tears – plus a few friends for eternity and a few classes that I truly enjoyed. (Admittedly, it could be argued that I liked any class that was relatively easy – whether matsci, English, or chem. This raises the issue of class content versus classmates and professors, but that topic is best left to a future post.) Of my most notable favorites were solid state and organic chemistry, both lecture and lab courses – despite the latter being slightly ruinous to my GPA. But hey, we have to start learning lab skill somewhere! Plus, it was fun to conjecture on how the professor really tested all the lidocaine we synthesized… And tetraphenylcyclopentadienone was such an impressive sounding name and such a pretty, shiny purple…

Not to marginalize all the toil, but do I look back and wonder what sort of lasting material those classes really taught. (It likely doesn’t count that I’ve been able to fit the allotropes of carbon into “regular” conversation.) My transition from high school to university was very profound; the difficulties of my first term eclipsed all previous academic experiences. Now having jumped those hurdles and refined my abilities, as with high school, my college education seems to lose value. Is undergrad just like [American] high school, where you’re learning to learn? How much of the foundation do we actually retain, forget, cram in for prelims, and then forget again?

It already seems far away, even though graduation is not even two months past.


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