As I was planning my June-July vacations, I decided to begin investigating potential summer camps. While browsing through my many options, I saw a trend: most programmes I was interested in lasted over two weeks time. This would have been alright, had I not been planning college visits during that time too. I began to stress, seeing as I would not have much time to complete all of my plans during that month, so I resorted to a backup plan: complete my college visits now. This made much more sense, I would have time to see all of my prospective universities and then time to attend to the camp of my preference, but I knew that if I wanted my parents to approve, I would have to give them a detailed plan.
It all began with the investigation. I knew that my major would be something around the area of biology, so I started looking up the best colleges within that career. I found around 20 and then narrowed the list down. Since I had already visited universities in LA and Michigan, I wanted to target my trip more to the north-eastern side of the US. So I drew up a map and pinpointed the places I wanted to see. Since I knew that so many plane tickets would cost a lot, I researched trains that went from DC to Philadelphia to Manhattan and to Boston. We'd only have to travel from Lima to Chicago, from Indiana to NY and then from DC back to Lima. The plan was foolproof!
I told my parents the plan and my mom agreed to come with me. Not soon after, we began to plan our trip itinerary. Since we already had planned a previous college visit for my brother, we built on that experience and applied our knowledge. My mom proposed the great idea to rent a car to go from Illinois to Indiana, and I started searching for hotels that had a hertz in them. We decided to leave the 26th of January, to be returning somewhere around the sixth. In total we would visit 11 universities in 9 days, it was a lot, but definitely doable.
Now that I have concluded the trip I must say that it was a very worthwhile experience. I ended up visiting 13 universities in the 9 days I was there, and, in general, loved them all! It was great talking to the several admissions officers and having them address all my concerns. Now it is only a matter of synthesizing the information I have in order to pick my top college.
SKILLS PERSEVERANCE INITIATIVE
Throughout my summer, I decided to cultivate a new habit: morning jogging. Besides the numerous health benefits of exercise, I thought that building a routine of waking up early would come in handy when school started again. Once I had the idea, I began investigating routes. I looked at google maps and found that my house was 2.5 km away from the closest gym, perfect. I knew that I was out of shape when it comes to cardiovascular exercises like jogging; it had been about a month or two since I last exercised, so I knew that I had to start slow. I made a general plan stating wake-up times and the estimated time of arrival, this was just an educated guess since everyday I'd be timing myself.
Since I knew that I'd be going to the beach on Fridays, I decided to adapt my plan for then. I would jog on mornings as well, but I would do so in Asia's sidewalk. I programmed to have two rest days at first, but as time goes by I may reduce it.
Up to now I have only done three days jogging and I can already feel the improvement. Regardless of the fact that my endurance has grown, before this, I had never jogged in pavement. What I mean to say is that I tend to run on the treadmill rather than on cement, and my parents usually don't allow me to go through the streets alone, so this whole experience is sort of new to me. Recognizing that, I'm highly disoriented with my surroundings when it comes to streets and avenues, being my own driver has truly shown me how to look around and see where I'm going; plus the alone time is great for personal reflection.
Now, I have committed to keeping this routine up at least all through January, with the hopes that every week I can do so in less time. I assume that by the last days of this month I am not only going to be able to arrive at the gym and leave but also being able to be able to perform muscular exercises in it. As time goes by I can try new routes and get to know my surroundings better, in all this has and will continue being a highly rewarding experience.
KICK BOX CLASS
Accelerated heartbeats, active lungs, you can't quite describe that feeling of adrenaline that you get after performing a highly challenging sport. It was a Monday afternoon, and I was at my twenty-something kick box class when I stopped and reflected on my overall performance. Kick box is a very demanding sport; if you aim to build up muscle strength and upgrade technique, you must execute it habitually.
I practice this sport every week, Monday's-Thursday's and then Sunday's, and it takes quite dedication to achieve this routine. There will be some weeks where I am swamped with school work, but overcoming these challenges and finding time is what will make you successful at kick box and life. I plan on continuing this weekly habit as long as I can, I am aware that eventually I will move on to college, and it is my hope that I can find time to achieve a healthy lifestyle too (be it with kick box or another sport).
As for the challenging part, it is not all about the time, but also the sport itself. It is really hard to apply the correct kicking and punching techniques, but with effort and practice, I am sure that I will eventually get there. When I had my first lesson, my methods were a joke, it is incredible how one can improve in a matter of weeks simply by training.
EXPLORATION SKILLS COLLABORATION
Today was my first IGEM meeting. I have always been a curious student, but my passion for the sciences started through high school. When I learned what the club was about, I had to join, and after the first session, I am very glad I did. IGEM stands for International Genetically engineered machine, and it is a club that hopes to compete someday in the tournament. Through our meetings we have the chance to learn and modify cells through DNA plasmids, all of this to get them to perform a specific task. It is fascinating.
The current project we are in looks to modify a prokaryote with the GFP protein to turn fluorescent green when in contact with mercury. It could help out several local issues that deal with checking if water is infested with this chemical. Globally and nationally, mercury poisoning is a severe issue that accounts for several deaths per year, if we can achieve our goals, maybe we could be able to help.
When I arrived at the meeting at lunch, I was surrounded by friends and a few new faces, I quickly sat down and waited for Mr. Buck to speak. He spent the class by introducing IGEM and talking about the meeting after school. There, he proceeded to group us into three divisions; I was placed with the newbies. On our table, he explained in detail the process of DNA coding, I listened carefully and worked together with the newbies to ask questions. I was amazed by how incredibly complex and interesting the subject was.
Before entering the IGEM meeting, I knew the basics of biology, and as I left the room, I was even more confused. There is so much out there still to learn, but I am confident that this club will provide insight into a deeper level of understanding.
SKILLS PERSEVERANCE & COLLABORATION
For 5 hours today I stayed after school working on the junior's mural. I had an extremely demanding full-day shift, and after being done, I must say I would have stayed longer! I have been part of the mural committee ever since I was a freshman, but this year, the level of skills was incredibly high. I had to learn about face proportions, shading, and my favorite part: underlining the letters.
Throughout the whole afternoon, I wrote the words one team one dream with my colleague David. We spent hours tracing these outlines and making the lines perfect. I acquired the ability to perform fine motor skills using a brush, which is harder than it seems, and also improved my overall painting techniques.
At first, I was afraid to begin painting, I hadn't touched a brush since last year's mural, and this one was already on its way. I was worried that I would mess it up, but as soon as I put the brush near the wall, I couldn't resist. I was able to overcome this challenge and have a lot of fun while accomplishing the task. I worked together with my peers and gave my ideas too. For example, Jose, the captain asked us all for opinions as to what color to paint the Junior letters, and I suggested to include silver, and we did too.
When I arrived home, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I had worked hard and it had certainly paid off. The end mural looked great, and without jinxing it, I believe we do have a shot at first place.