Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Snakes on a Plane

Now, I'm not saying that writing the protein engineering summary was like being in a horror movie, but I do find it necessary to draw your attention to certain striking similarities.

Picture this. A worn out college student on a 3 hour, post spring break flight back to MIT, seated between 2 napping passengers, running on a mere 2 hours of sleep herself. With her laptop in one hand, and a stuffed beluga whale in the other, she embarks upon the very last leg of the protein engineering summary revision journey - (re)writing the abstract.

Samuel L. Jackson taught us a lot about overcoming obstacles at 30,000 feet above ground, but even he couldn't have prepared me for the nightmare of trying to prepare an eloquent description of our protein engineering project while cramped into a (metaphorical, but also literal) box of despair, with too little elbow room, and too dry airplane air rasping through my nostrils. And it was in that moment, with the sky floating beneath me and exhaustion hanging above me, that I realised how truly grateful I was for all my 20.109 homework.

Grumble though I might, every week when I spend several more hours working on 20.109 than any of my other technical classes, I have come to appreciate the value of the little bits that we get done with each assignment, and how they culminate in the comprehensive whole that is our protein engineering summary. I can confidently say that I am a better biological engineer for the way in which I can now present my research concisely and articulately. Each piece of 20.109 homework, so thoroughly graded and commented on, was a building block for a strong foundation upon which I was able to build a satisfactory abstract, even while grouching and groaning and typing with T-rex arms.

So the moral of the story is this. Put in the work for every single one of those daily homework assignments, and take your instructor's feedback to heart. I've learnt that even in the crappiest of scenarios, you'll still be able to crank out an abstract you can be proud of if you do.

And if you've never seen the 2006 blockbuster hit featuring Hollywood's favourite black guy, you should give it a gander. It's about horses on a boat.

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