Friday, February 5, 2010

¡Hola! Hello! Âllo!

We're not in Bocas* anymore.

We are in fact back in the cold bosom of winter. Being tickled by the icy fingers of Jack Frost. Having out pant legs soaked by the salty puddles of slush in Montréal. Winter, happily, is not as bad I had remembered it being. I was actually starting to miss changing seasons while I was in Panama. Give me a few weeks, I'm sure I'll be sick of it soon. February has a way of doing that to you.

Since last I updated, a long, long time ago in a country far, far away, things have been busy. I know, it's shocking. I had a really great couple of weeks at home in TR, a very good Christmas and super-fun New  Year's, and then an amazing week in Seattle where I presented the work that I had been doing in Panama. I met loads of people, made some good contacts, and hopefully didn't sound like a dolt while I presented my poster.

The conference was going on while classes were already in session, so I caught the red-eye back to Montreal, had a shower at the new apartment, went to my class on "Gene Activity in Development", had a Spanish placement test and then caught the bus to TR for a weekend of packing before moving more or less to Montreal. I say more or less, because I'm still heading back on alternate weekends.

I've been pretty much consumed by catching up with the first week of classes that I missed, and getting used to life in the big city. Classes are going alright - I'm facing a steep learning curve in the above mentioned biology course, and double-time Spanish acquisition in the intensive Spanish course I succeeded in getting into. So just getting into the rhythm of not one but two mega intense courses has been rough. And I know, two classes doesn't sound like much, but I am supposed have time to do a thorough literature review and design at least some preliminary projects. Oh, and those boring things like eat and sleep as well. And maybe even get out once in a while.

I am really enjoying the lab, even if I have no idea what people are talking about half the time. And not just because they are ant people and I'm a snail person. I feel light years behind in a lot of ways because I come from such an old-school embryological background (morphology, histology, organismal) whereas the lab is full on molecular (they are also organismal though, so I'm happy: they want to know what the molecules are doing at a the whole animal level and beyond, which is more complicated, but that's the way life works). But I'll catch up.

My Spanish is also improving. I can now talk about yesterday, which may not be as zen as only being able to talk in the present (tense, that is), but is much more useful in real life situations. And yes, it is ironic. I study Spanish at McGill - an English-speaking university in a French-speaking city. Though I must say, I  probably hear more Spanish than French on the streets some days.

I'm working on connecting with people I know here, and trying to get involved in something that doesn't involve reading or sitting and thinking. I'd better hurry up about it though, because sooner than I think, I'll be off again...

*Bocas del Toro - a supposedly beautiful part of Panama I have never actually visited, but there's a marine station there so it's on my list of places to work next time I head down.

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