So, it's been a ridiculously long time since I've posted. I was at Woods Hole, MA for a month, and then I went to Greece for about two weeks with Derrick. The last six weeks have been absolutely amazing--I was über productive at Woods Hole, and then had a fabulous time in Greece with Derrick traveling from Athens to Naxos, and then to Santorini. Coming back to real life is so hard.
I don't know what to say about WHOI. It's an exciting place to be, not least of all because there's so much going on that I find interesting. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work there at all, and more, to have worked with someone like Tim Eglinton, who is an impressive, well-known organic geochemist, and great person to boot; and I feel fortunate to have spent a month surrounded by such smart, motivated people as are in his lab. When I went to WHOI I couldn't believe how excited I was to go there (it's just another place where people do research, right?). Dorky as this is, on my way to Woods Hole I felt like a kid going to Disneyland for the first time. I felt the same way I did when I fist went to tech. I think I expected things to end the same way there, too, with disillusionment and semi-failure (or something akin to it). I admit, I struggled with feelings of inadequacy while I was there: with feeling like I'm intellectually inferior to the people around me, like I'm an impostor risking exposure every time I opened my mouth, like I really don't belong and people are just humoring me because I'm a girl. Feelings I haven't really had to deal with since I left tech (this place certainly doesn't inspire them, and I was too preoccupied with other feelings of inadequacy at Penn State to worry about the minor detail of my stupidity).
And yet, WHOI was invigorating and challenging in a way I definitely miss, and on balance it was a very positive experience. I don't think I've enjoyed working so hard for a very long time, nor have I been in a place so dizzyingly stimulating. My visit definitely reaffirmed my decision to do science, and made me want to work harder and find out more (sorry Derrick, no kiddos just yet). I was sad, almost to the point of crying (though I didn't) as I rode the bus to Boston, watching the sun set over the Cape.
'Course, then I went to Greece, and since then have had a dickens of time getting myself at all motivated :)
Greece is a beautiful country, and the people are very friendly. I loved seeing the Parthenon and the Acropolis, and learning about so much history. I'd never been to Europe before, and I have to say being someplace that's steeped in so much history is pretty amazing. Oh, and the food was fabulous! The first night Derrick and I were in Athens we went to this little restaurant just downstairs from our hotel and we got grilled feta as an appetizer. That is my new favorite dish. Very simple--just feta cheese with olive oil and spices--we had it at every opportunity and saw a number of variations, most involving thin-sliced tomatoes or peppers and some combination of oregano and basil. I'm definitely going to have to experiment with this dish to perfect my own version ;)
I should probably do a more organized report (with pictures!) but I'm tired and it's late, so I'll do it in a future (but soon!) post.