My New Normal

Everything post-Harvey has been a bit of a whirlwind. We missed the last day of orientation and the entire first week of classes due to the storm and its aftermath. The school has been scrambling to make up the missed information sessions while trying to aid students, faculty, and staff affected by the storm, and trying to officially start the school year.

As a 1st year student (and someone who was fortunate to have been relatively spared by Harvey),  I’ve been kept busy with class, introductions to the different specialization programs offered by the PhD program, and my efforts to finish my research project from the summer. I hoped to finish everything related to my summer research before our fall rotation starts next week, but my confidence in that deadline grows smaller by the day.

Lab rotations offer students a chance to try out 3-4 different laboratories before choosing one to do their PhD project in, allowing students to “test drive” the research, leadership, and environment of each lab. As most students will be spending 3+ years in their chosen lab, it’s imperative that it be an environment conducive to production, morale, and education, while involving a research project that can hold the student’s interest throughout that time.

My rotation this fall will be in a lab that I became very familiar with during my work this summer when they bailed my unprepared butt out on many an occasion. I am looking forward to my work with them and getting experience with a new project, the details of which have yet to be worked out.

I was hoping for a slower start to the year but each day seems to pile on more responsibilities, homework, deadlines, and events, leaving me waiting for a chance to get my feet back on the ground. I know it’s only going to get worse, so my complaints probably won’t let up for a while. Sorry.

I need to take a breather every now and again, whether it be going for a workout or just stepping outside into the sun for a while. It feels like the sun is ever-present after Harvey, bringing beautiful weather that Houston would have been much happier with than a 5-day storm.

I have tried to do what I can in terms of relief efforts but it never seems like enough. At least one of the major shelters still has a couple thousand people staying there and is expected to stay at that occupancy for the next couple weeks. With the rest of us going back to school and work, trying to get back our new version of “normal”, this shelter and many of the other relief organizations are putting out calls for volunteers. The Houston Food Bank, the largest food bank in the country, both by size and area served, is asking for a few hundred volunteers a day to help put together the food and necessities packages to be immediately distributed in the community. I volunteered there on Monday and with 30 people, in 2.5 hours, we put together 1600 packages of meals for hungry schoolchildren to help feed their families over the weekend.

The Houston Food Bank warehouse is 308,000 sq ft and provides food, water, and other necessities to people in 28 Texas counties.

Today, we were assigned a homework based on our recent lectures on epigenetics that I’ve been warned will take most of the weekend; it’s only Tuesday and I already have something to look forward to for Saturday.




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