Starting Uni Student-made Wellbeing

Lessons I’ve Learned From My Course (That Have Nothing To Do With the Course) 

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Travelling halfway across the world, you’re probably expecting to attend difficult lectures in modern facilities taught by the top researchers in the field. You know you’ll learn all there is to know about your degree: the names of protein families, signalling cascades, and not to take grapefruit with certain meds. But you don’t know that there is a plethora of wisdom you discover when you read between the lines of your textbook and listen to the subliminal voices in a lecture. 

I’m a 2nd-year biotechnology undergrad, and as I surpass the halfway checkpoint of my time at uni, I’m here to teach you some (hopefully) inspirational lessons I’ve learned. 

BIOL21181 Fundamentals of Bacteriology: 🧘‍♀️🎭Oops, got your coping skills!🎭🧘‍♀️ 

Bacteria are constantly under stress. Heat, oxygen levels, a lack of nutrients, antibiotics, and even other bacteria frazzle those tiny creatures! So how do they survive? Well, bacteria are very smart, very resilient, and very well equipped with a bunch of survival mechanisms. Sometimes those mechanisms are counterintuitive and fail them, but if they use the right ones, they can thrive and live their best lives. 

What I’m getting at is that we’re just a collection of bacterial colonies (literally, there are so many bacteria in and on us). We, like bacteria, need coping mechanisms to survive the stresses of day-to-day life. If our coping mechanisms are unhealthy, we’ll make ourselves worse. We have to be smart and avoid damaging coping strategies, instead building healthy coping skills that work for us. Easier said than done, but if bacteria can do it, so can we. 

BIOL21192 Principles of Infectious Disease: 🌠💖 Something that is so toxic can actually be used beneficially 💖🌠 

Those are the wise words, verbatim, of one of my lecturers. 

Ever heard of diphtheria? If not, it’s a very potent toxin produced by evil little bacteria. It is so strong that just one molecule of that toxin can kill an entire cell. To put it simply: very toxic. Well, scientists are designing something called “Targeted Diphtheria Toxin-Based Therapy” to cure cancer! The toxins fight cancer cells in a number of ways, and they have actually been very promising. 

The takeaway from this is that if there is a toxic or just unpleasant situation that is troubling you, look for the silver lining. Maybe you can learn from it, maybe a new opportunity arises from it, or maybe you’ll meet new people because of it. Maybe you’re just equipping your emotional immune system to be able to handle such a situation a lot better next time. This doesn’t mean having a toxic positivity mindset either; it just means you should have patience because the bright side is just a turn away. 

BIOL-Any-Lab-Science-Module: 🤩✨Epic fail✨🤩 

This one really speaks for itself. Failure is so standard and even expected in science. You might lose your mind repeating experiments and starting from scratch because of one small misstep or lack of consideration. The point is to be persistent and try and try again to get results. Things go wrong, whether it’s an agarose gel electrophoresis or a rejection of a job application. Failure should be redefined. As a scientist, I think of it as “ruling out a method.” If something didn’t work, learn from it. Repeating experiments to get rid of outliers and rule out errors is how we get good results. If something doesn’t go to plan, learn from scientists and don’t give up. 

CHEM10111 Fundamentals of Chemistry: I don’t have a funny title for this one because chemistry destroyed my brain cells 😒 

I have tried my best to avoid chemistry for the past 5 or so years. I dropped chemistry the first opportunity I got way back in school. I didn’t need it to get into my course because I took physics, another brain-cell-destroying subject that I much prefer to chemistry. Imagine my despair when I came to uni and was told I need to take an introductory chemistry class because it’s iMpOrTaNt or something. I realized that it was time to suck it up and deal with it because I have a goal that is so much bigger than a class I’ll only take for 12 weeks. I don’t really remember much from that class but I did learn that you will always have to deal with doing things you don’t necessarily like, to achieve a more significant objective. 

BIOL21152 ‘Omic Technology and Resources: 🤝🥼We’re All In This Together🥼🤝 

The human genome (complete set of genes) is over 3 billion base pairs long. Scientists have amazingly managed to sequence almost all of it as part of the Human Genome Project. This took 20 universities and research centers from across the world to accomplish. Sharing resources, knowledge, and the burden is how this feat that should’ve taken much longer was made possible. Like labs, we are our own entities, but we can’t get to the places we want as readily without the right support – whether that’s from our parents, siblings, friends, a network, or colleagues. Lifting each other up is how we rise best.