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the summer before senior year by Abby H. '20

you've changed...

A few days ago, Spotify generated a playlist for me that included a song from Bowling for Soup. This, of course, made me think lmao, remember Bowling for Soup? This, of course of course, made me get sad about growing up, so I amplified the sadness by listening to more Bowling for Soup songs. I learned 3 things.

  1. The Girl described in “Girl All the Bad Guys Want” could not possibly be any real person who has ever existed. That song is wild.
  2. High school never ends.
  3. I cannot tell the difference between good and bad music.

In keeping with the theme of nostalgia and high school and growing up, I thought I should write a bit about how different things are now. A lot of people reading the admissions blogs are rising seniors in high school. I am now a rising senior in college. It’s crazy how much can change in that four-year gap.

The summer before my senior year of high school I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a scientist01 At this point, I was pretty sure I was going to go to school for chemical engineering, since I was ~good at chemistry in high school.~ I was young and naive and blissfully ignorant of 5.12. for the rest of my life. I didn’t know which schools to apply to in the fall, mostly because I had no frame of reference for which schools were out of my league.02 I didn't do sports, I didn't have a lot of leadership experience on my resume, and I didn't want to go anywhere north of Birmingham's latitude because I hated the cold. I was in lab from 9 to 503 a completely unexpected series of events led to me, a high-schooler, getting the opportunity to work in a real chemistry lab for the summer during the week, working on a project that wasn’t entirely mine.04 this was a relief to me; I am very grateful to have leeched off of one of the very sweet grad students' projects I was anxious because I had to prepare a poster for the poster session at the end of the summer, but I didn’t think I had enough data05 the premise of my project was essentially Is This A Good Way To Purify Large Amounts Of Protein? and the results were essentially No to make a poster. My mentor gave me papers to read, but it felt like they were in another language.06 which added to doubts I already had about me being cut out to be a scientist I felt ashamed every time I didn’t know something obvious or made careless mistakes in lab, because I was supposed to be the smart kid from the smart school. At lunch time, I would eat a cold sandwich that was somehow always just a little bit wet.07 I like a cold, dry, plain sandwich. The ones from that summer were mostly smoked turkey and cheddar on a very large piece of Publix Cuban bread, and the moisture was coming from either the processed lunch meat or condensation from humid air+refrigerator. Everyone else in the lab was an adult with a life outside the lab,08 the grad student I worked with was married! but I had no idea where they found the time for that. They all seemed so cheery and friendly.09 I was not. Whenever I went home in the evenings, with a dull pain under my left shoulder-blade that always seemed to strike at around 4 pm, I just wanted to watch TV10 I think that summer I was really into Freaks and Geeks and Wilfred and eat unhealthy food,11 Twizzlers, cherry Coke, a whole bag of sunflower seeds, kettle-cooked chips but I didn’t even have much time for that. My days were long, and I was scared to see where this was going.

 

That was me at 17. I’m 2112 but no one believes me because I have looked 14 for the past 7 years now, and this is what my 22nd summer13 had to count on my fingers an embarrassing amount of times to see if I did this math right has been like:

It’s the summer before my senior year of college, and I have no idea what I am doing. I don’t know if I want to be a scientist14 I want to create! But I also need financial support! for the rest of my life. I don’t know which schools to apply to in the fall, mostly because I have no frame of reference for which schools are out of my league.15 You think undergrad admissions is opaque? HahahahhahahahahhhaIdon'tknowhowI'msupposedtogetintoabioPhDprogramwithaCingeneticsbutIwilltryhahahahhhahhahhh I am in lab from 9 to 516 a completely unexpected series of events led to me getting the opportunity to work in a real Big Pharma biology lab for the summer during the week, working on a project that isn’t entirely mine.17 once again this is a relief to me; I am very grateful that I did not have to find my own novel drug target to work on I am anxious because I have to prepare a poster for the poster session at the end of the summer, but I don’t think I have enough data18 the premise of my project is REDACTED to make a poster. My mentor gave me papers to read, but it feels like they are in another language.19 I've been doing this for at least 4 years and I still have to reread paragraphs over and over to make sure the ideas actually enter my brain I feel ashamed every time I don’t know something obvious or make careless mistakes in lab, because I’m supposed to be the smart kid from the smart school. At lunch time, I eat a cold sandwich that is somehow always just a little bit wet.20 I still like a cold, dry, plain sandwich. There are no Publixes where I can get the Cuban bread and lunch meat that I like, so I just buy a pre-packaged sandwich from the cafeteria. They always have some kind of wet ingredient like chipotle sauce or herb mayo or meat juice, but I keep eating them anyway. Everyone else in the lab is an adult with a life outside the lab,21 Two of the people in my cubicle block are moms. Additionally, both of the other interns in my cubicle block are heading to grad school in the fall, so I feel like the least capable person in the room most of the time. but I have no idea where they find the time for that. They all seem so cheery and friendly.22 I still am not. Whenever I go home in the evenings, with a dull pain under my left shoulder-blade that always seems to strike at around 4 pm, I just want to watch TV23 I haven't seen Into the Spiderverse yet or Stranger Things 3 or the second half of Ramy or a thousand other things I need to watch and eat unhealthy food,24 Pocky, cherry Coke, a whole bag of sunflower seeds, the biggest Laffy Taffy you have ever seen but I don’t even have much time for that. My days are long, and I’m still scared, but just a little excited, to see where this goes.

my ID from UAB and my ID from genentech

some things never change, just like my permanently blurry face

  1. At this point, I was pretty sure I was going to go to school for chemical engineering, since I was ~good at chemistry in high school.~ I was young and naive and blissfully ignorant of 5.12. back to text
  2. I didn't do sports, I didn't have a lot of leadership experience on my resume, and I didn't want to go anywhere north of Birmingham's latitude because I hated the cold. back to text
  3. a completely unexpected series of events led to me, a high-schooler, getting the opportunity to work in a real chemistry lab for the summer back to text
  4. this was a relief to me; I am very grateful to have leeched off of one of the very sweet grad students' projects back to text
  5. the premise of my project was essentially Is This A Good Way To Purify Large Amounts Of Protein? and the results were essentially No back to text
  6. which added to doubts I already had about me being cut out to be a scientist back to text
  7. I like a cold, dry, plain sandwich. The ones from that summer were mostly smoked turkey and cheddar on a very large piece of Publix Cuban bread, and the moisture was coming from either the processed lunch meat or condensation from humid air+refrigerator. back to text
  8. the grad student I worked with was married! back to text
  9. I was not. back to text
  10. I think that summer I was really into Freaks and Geeks and Wilfred back to text
  11. Twizzlers, cherry Coke, a whole bag of sunflower seeds, kettle-cooked chips back to text
  12. but no one believes me because I have looked 14 for the past 7 years back to text
  13. had to count on my fingers an embarrassing amount of times to see if I did this math right back to text
  14. I want to create! But I also need financial support! back to text
  15. You think undergrad admissions is opaque? HahahahhahahahahhhaIdon'tknowhowI'msupposedtogetintoabioPhDprogramwithaCingeneticsbutIwilltryhahahahhhahhahhh back to text
  16. a completely unexpected series of events led to me getting the opportunity to work in a real Big Pharma biology lab for the summer back to text
  17. once again this is a relief to me; I am very grateful that I did not have to find my own novel drug target to work on back to text
  18. the premise of my project is REDACTED back to text
  19. I've been doing this for at least 4 years and I still have to reread paragraphs over and over to make sure the ideas actually enter my brain back to text
  20. I still like a cold, dry, plain sandwich. There are no Publixes where I can get the Cuban bread and lunch meat that I like, so I just buy a pre-packaged sandwich from the cafeteria. They always have some kind of wet ingredient like chipotle sauce or herb mayo or meat juice, but I keep eating them anyway. back to text
  21. Two of the people in my cubicle block are moms. Additionally, both of the other interns in my cubicle block are heading to grad school in the fall, so I feel like the least capable person in the room most of the time. back to text
  22. I still am not. back to text
  23. I haven't seen Into the Spiderverse yet or Stranger Things 3 or the second half of Ramy or a thousand other things I need to watch back to text
  24. Pocky, cherry Coke, a whole bag of sunflower seeds, the biggest Laffy Taffy you have ever seen back to text