Day 35 and 36: Getting lost! And learning lots!

THURSDAY

Went to work of course!

I got to work with Boris today. I mostly just watched and learned from his lab assistant. Boris does behavioral neuroscience. He has these mice without cones (nrl mutation), so they are night blind. He is working with another lab that is injecting stem cells into their eyes, with the hope that the cones will regenerate. I am geeking out over this! We are testing their tracking in the dark to see if it works. Unfortunately, thus far it doesn’t seem to be working. The mouse we were using seemed totally and completely uninterested in the visual stimulation, even at the brightness levels that she should have been able to see.

Oh, and the mouse bit me when I tried to pick her up! 😦 I have decided I like rats better than mice. Rats (or at least ours) are nicer and slower. That little mouse was so darn fast! I like that our rats our bigger and slower, so they are easier to grab a hold of.

I tried to see Anahit patch clamp to ganglion cells in the retinal tissue, but something went wrong. The cells were dark adapted, so everything (the preparation and the patch clamping had to be done in the dark). This included finding the cells in the tissue without using the light in the microscope. Instead they use the photon-laser to scan for cells. We could see cells on the scanner, but couldn’t actually find them in the tissue. I ended up going home because hours later it was still not working! Poor Anahit was there until 1 in the morning trying to get it to work! 😦

I went home and cooked a yummy dinner. I ate with Marcus. He is 29 and apparently still eats a salami and cheese sandwich every night for dinner!

I then rushed over to meet my family at Neue Aula for the Studenten Philharmonie Tuebingen Concert. It was amazing!! Absolutely breathtaking music. The group sounded professional. My favorite part was how expressive each player was- they truly created a work of art. And enjoyed themselves! 🙂

CAM00617[1]CAM00618[1] (courtyard outside Neue Aula)

Then I couldn’t figure out which bus to take home. I took the #5 bus, which always goes to my stop. It didn’t. Instead, I took a tour of the countryside of Germany at 11 o’clock at night. At one point I was the only person on the bus. I seriously thought I was going to have a panic attack–we just kept driving further and further away from the city! I asked the bus driver if the bus went to the area I live in. He chuckled and said we would get there eventually. So at 12:30 we stopped at a stop near my complex. I wasn’t sure if the bus stopped at my stop, and I didn’t want to chance going in a circle again. So I got off. Then I used the handy-dandy map feature on my phone and walked back to my dorm through the dark in the middle of the night. I pulled out my pepper spray just in case and had two thoughts occur simultaneously: 1. Is pepper spray illegal here? 2. I don’t think I even know how to use this thing!! Also, my phone (which was showing me the way home) was almost dead. Anyways, I managed to make it back to my room safely after traipsing through some mud.

Then I had to pack for the weekend before I could go to bed.

Never have I been so happy to see my bed!

FRIDAY

I helped Boris again today. Only I was his only assistant! (Background in case you forgot: Boris is paralyzed, so he needs someone else to do everything for him.) It was a really fascinating way of learning. I learn well when people show me how to do something, and then I do it. This is also how I have typically been taught. But Boris can’t show me anything. He can only say for me to do something and I have to figure out how. It was really a great experience! Also, I am proud that he trusted me enough to be the only person there helping him. 😀 Also, it really made cognizant of how frustrating and difficult it must be to be paralyzed. I know that might sound a bit silly. You might think, well of course it is hard to not be able to do anything for yourself! But I don’t think most of us have a real idea of what that is like. For example, the computer program we were working with that tracked the mouse’s eye movement was rather complex. Boris would say, “Click on this button.” But of course I didn’t know where it was. I would search madly for it, and he would give directions- to the left, under this, no a little more to the left….This aspect of the experience really affected me as much, if not more, as the actual cool neuroscience we were doing. Sadly, the mouse still didn’t track. 😦

I did, however, conquer the mouse! I caught her every time and there was no biting! YAY.

Boris then showed me video of animals tracking properly so I would know what to look for when I was coding. It was really neat and kind of humorous. First, a fat mouse tracked. Then, a chicken. But because the testing apparatus gets warm, the chicken kept falling asleep! It was really hilarious to watch this chicken track and then drop its head to sleep! The most fascinating video, however, was of a zebra fish larvae. You could just watch its little eyeballs going around and around. It was incredible!

I did some more research on my own about the mutation in the mice Boris works with.  Got some free chocolate! 🙂
CAM00619[1] (My feelings about chocolate!)

At lunch, I had the first thing I didn’t like. :/ Oh well. Anahit and I had a great conversation about food preferences. Apparently in Armenia they eat a dish of liver and lung meat! >:/

More research after lunch. Had a baby birthday celebration in which we ate some chocolate because it was Dr. Muench’s and Anahit’s birthdays!

I then met my family at the train station to go to Munich. The train we had planned on taking was full, so we had to take a later train. 😦

When we got to the Munich train station, we were a little turned around and not sure how to get to our hotel. A really nice old man stopped to help us. He wasn’t sure of the answer, so he went and asked other people! Anyways, at the end of our conversation he told me I spoke really good unaccented German!! 😀 He asked if I was American. When I said yes, he was shocked. I am coming to find out that Germans are constantly amazed when Americans can speak another language well.

We got to our hotel. It was awesome. The view from our room was magnificent.

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(look at the sunset! view of the English gardens and river)

Then we decided to go for a walk through the famous English Gardens. It is this huge park in the middle of Munich (sort of like Central Park). We walked over to the famous Chinesischer Turm, where there is a super popular (and huge!) beer garden. We got some beers (well, I got a Radler) and enjoyed the evening. Lots of laughter and bonding ensued.

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We then walked back to our hotel and went to bed.

Tschus!

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