Written Tuesday, June 9, 2009 – 9:43am
I woke up and got to work at 9am, at which point I was just browsing the internet for a bit. At 9:10am the lab professor tells me that there’s a lab meeting (sort of a journal group) starting at 9:15am and we’re all expected to be there, so I head to the room. I had not eaten breakfast, and I had my rice ball (onigiri) on my right hand and my lab notebook on the left, since I didn’t know if it was rude to eat then, I just held it with my stuff. I thought the meeting was going to be until 10 or so, but it went until 11. At that time I was so hungry, I couldn’t wait to get out and eat my rice ball. Turns out that right after the Monday meetings there’s lab clean-up. Damn…
I mopped a room, and apparently all those years of practice at home and in CROEM made me a really good mopper (is that even a word?). People in the lab were saying things in Japanese like: “It’s so clean!” and “Omar clean all this by himself? Wow, it’s too clean.” etc. I felt good, it was sort of like, if I don’t do anything productive in lab during the week, at least I can mop the room well. That kind of trades off for my use of the internet.
Anyway, after that I just did a few things in lab. I prepared a 5M NaCl solution for PCR cloning, and put some cells in coomassie blue solution for SDS tomorrow. I then froze them, of course. 🙂
After that, at around 7pm I was getting ready to go home, but two other people from the lab told me that there was going to be cake for someone’s birthday at 9:30, and it was a surprise. So I just went to get dinner at the ‘student center cafeteria’, which is really cheap and delicious, and then went back into lab until 9:30. I thought the cake was going to be from everyone in the lab, but a bit later one guy from the lab, who is the youngest one here (23 years old) and wants to practice English with me, told me that the birthday celebration was going to be soon, and told me to follow him. It turns out only ~5 other people had been invited to it, I felt so special! Anyway, there were small cakes for everyone there, and one bigger one for the birthday boy. A bit later the birthday boy came in and we sang ‘happy birthday’. The Japanese do sing it like: “Happy Bathday, to you” or at least that’s how it sounded to me. And they clap while singing it. It was cute.
The cake was delicious and I stayed with them until 11:00ish and then headed back to the train. I finally got home at around 12:20am and then checked a few things, and went to bed. It was really nice to socialize with that group my labmates. They were a lot of fun, and we nicked name each one of them (or rather, I did. I was the one who finalized their nicknames). One is “Crazy-San” and another is “Shy-san”. These names were chosen by their friends who told me they were crazy and shy, respectively. The others we made up were: “san-tyan”, “masaya-san”, “bootsu-san” (sort of like a boot), and “Señor Potto-san”. That last one was the coolest, of course. “Señor Potto-san” was the birthday boy, so for that night only he was also “Tanjoobi-san” which means Mr. Birthday.
Anyway, it was a very interesting day. I had my first experience sitting through a lab meeting in Japanese in which they were discussing three papers and I could only understand the English words they would say. This is kind of what it sounded to me: “lalalallalaa calcium lalalalalala signaru lalalala lalala la lala hai lalalala”. It was a lot of fun to sit through that. At the end of each paper the professor asked if we had questions, and when he asked me I simply said: “Nani mo wakarimasen desita” or “I didn’t understand anything.” Everyone laughed and we kept going. It was also fun having my first experience hanging out with a group of Japanese people. 🙂
Oh, I had to introduce myself in Japanese to other people through a video conference, that was interesting. I was like… hai… “I’m Omar, from MIT. I come from Puerto Rico.” is that good enough? Haha, it was fun being on the spot for that second.
Okay, that’s all I’ve got for now. It’s time to get back to work 🙂