“Faris and Jonathan” (Kinda Lame Blog Post Title Provided Courtesy of Faris)

Before I begin my blog post, I’d like to first formally extend my gratitude to Derrick for fixing my laptop. I could not connect to Wifi this entire morning (and I apparently needed to plug in an ethernet cable to fix it?), and knowing that I had a blog post due tonight, I thought— as Shreyan would put it— “it’s over.” Despite all of my futile attempts at restarting, powering off, and eventually resorting to the chrome dinosaur game, it only took Derrick’s simple action of turning on and off the Wifi setting to solve my problem. He told me it’s simply a skill issue, and I cannot agree more. 

Part 1: SSPacking

Everything began on June 11th, the Saturday morning before my departure. Staying true to my “productive at personal convenience” philosophy, I did not begin packing until the same day of my flight. When I started throwing random clothes into my suitcase, I found out that my mom— likely exasperated with my procrastination— had already overpacked for me. Although I did end up repacking and reorganizing most things, I greatly appreciated her help. Yet despite our combined efforts, there were still a few major oversights, starting with the most important thing: socks. 

Socks. Who would’ve thought? I packed enough clothing to do laundry once every two weeks, but I’ve recently personally gained the insight that you can never have enough socks. This advice becomes especially important when you lose socks (I lost a sock when I did laundry for the first time, and I couldn’t even find it in the designated sock lost and found, which is absolutely tragic). If being able to wear clothes everyday is a chemical reaction, then trying to find clean socks is undoubtedly the rate-limiting step. 

Another piece of wisdom I’d like to extend to everyone: the most valuable item you can bring is most certainly not bug spray (lyme disease and west nile virus, anyone?), shampoo, blankets, or even socks. You will soon come to realize that this most valuable possession— the ruling monarch of all foods, the balanced universe in a bowl, the quintessential college-student starter item— is, without a doubt, instant ramen. If you are able to find ramen that is pre-packed in a bowl, make sure to bring that for best results. If you are only able to find ramen that is packaged in plastic wrapping, make sure to buy a 50 cent plastic bowl from Target and invest in some high-quality dish soap. If you are unable to bring ramen or decide to not heed my advice, then that’s a major L for you. At this point, your only option is to befriend some generous, ramen-bearing participants early on. Choose wisely.

Part 2: SSPsets

On our very first day, we received a taste of the infamous SSP psets. Luckily, I dove into the work equipped with unrivaled insight from an SSP alumnus: although we may experience pain from the psets initially, we will eventually learn to enjoy the pain.

Truthfully, the psets weren’t too bad, and I got to work on it with some of my soon-to-be besties. Here’s a picture of us below: 

Part 3: SSPlaylist

Before arriving at SSP, the 6 campuses had already collaborated on a joint Spotify playlist that is, as of right now, 22 hours and 1 minute (thanks James!). The playlist is the ultimate collaborative space, boasting a melting pot of culture, genre, and music tastes ranging from absolutely godly to slightly questionable. 

And since starting our 2 weeks of enzyme assays, I’ve come to appreciate upbeat music and charged portable speakers even more. As a way of leaving a memento behind for myself, current/future participants, and strangers alike, I’ll provide some songs that will always take me back to my 5 ½ weeks here (@ all IU ‘22 participants: ask TA Emma about her creepy food court guy, who I definitely did not take inspiration from for this playlist note idea!). Additional shoutout to Angela, Sarah, and all members of our lab room, because I definitely stole most of these songs from you guys.

1. Can We Dance – The Vamps

2. As It Was – Harry Styles

3. Love Grows – Edison Lighthouse

4. Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder

5. Feels – Calvin Harris

6. Tongue Tied – Grouplove

7. World’s Smallest Violin – AJR

8. Move – brb.

9. Feel So Close – Calvin Harris

10. Sweater Weather – The Neighborhood

11. American Pie – Don McLean

12. The Adults Are Talking – The Strokes

13. Good Time – Owl City

14. Somebody To You – The Vamps

15. Burn It Down – Linkin Park

16. Memories – Maroon 5

17. Hollywood’s Bleeding – Post Malone

18. Glorious – Macklemore

19. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

20. Magic – Coldplay

21. The Sound – The 1975

22. Lost – Frank Ocean

23. Dance, Baby! – boy pablo

24. Overdrive – Conan Gray

25. Sit Next to Me – Foster The People

26. Cruel Summer – Taylor Swift

27. We Belong – Pat Benatar

28. Disaster – Conan Gray

29. Work from Home – Fifth Harmony

30. This Is Gospel – Panic! At The Disco

31. Maniac – Conan Gray

32. Viva La Vida – Coldplay

33. New Romantics – Taylor Swift

34. Beautiful Mistakes – Maroon 5

35. Drive By – Train

36. Houdini – Foster The People

Part 4: SSPipetting

While on the topic of enzyme assays, I think this is a perfect time to address the topic of pipettes. Or, rather, the stealing of pipettes. As the number of pNPP assay trials increased and the number of functional calibrated micropipettes decreased, every day in the lab has become a frantic race for the holy p20s, p200s, and p1000s. The lovely sophomore in my group has resorted to labeling “group 3” on all of our fancy Eppendorf ones, and when other groups still showed no hesitation in stealing our pipettes, said sophomore started sticking “inaccurate pipette, needs calibration” onto all of them (perhaps slightly evil, but we’ve witnessed increased rates in available pipettes, so I’m not complaining). 

I’d also like to mention the amount of pipetting we’ve been doing. The past 2 weeks have mostly been spent in the lab— trials of pNPP, BioMol Green, peptide substrates, and now various inhibitors, all stacked upon each other— and without the aid of multichannel pipettes, we’ve developed into pipetting experts. Thank you, Faris and Jonathan, for being the best two people to run these assays with 🙂

Anyways, here’s a photo of our inhibitor assay trials from yesterday (ignore how column 1 is supposed to contain 3 identical trials but it literally looks like a standard curve):

Part 5: SSPuzzles, SSPool, and SSPokemonGo

Wow. Where do I even begin? The entertainment here at IU is endless, but I can easily divide my experiences up into 3 main categories: puzzles, pool, and Pokemon Go. 

Ever since the girls’ floor discovered that the TAs brought cute cat puzzles from home, we’ve begun laying them out all over our lounge spaces, fully equipped with the knowledge that these public spaces were originally intended for collaborating on psets. We would congregate around the table with bags of jalapeño chips, brownie brittle, and Amy’s monster drinks, sharing tidbits of our personal lives while simultaneously freaking out over the 50 indistinguishable blue pieces. Then when we would finally finish the puzzle, we’d discover that one single piece (usually in the most noticeable part possible) had gone missing. Yet at the same time, I’ve had some of my most meaningful interactions and made some of my most valuable memories through these late night sessions. Puzzles should forever remain at the top of our Target shopping lists.

Since our first time witnessing Maybeline’s unrivaled prowess in billiards at the IMU, I have attained enlightenment and my perspectives have forever shifted for the greater good: my sole goal in life, now, is to become a pool master. My abilities shall no longer be confined to the small game pigeon 8-ball screen on my phone. Rather, I’ll now get the opportunity to combine my deficient understanding of angles, spin, velocity, and momentum (sorry, I’m in biochem, not astrophysics) with my (currently) subpar technical skills and occasionally hit balls into pockets. And now, I’m proud to announce that I am the perfect embodiment of one of Derrick’s favorite phrases: “Thomas has never seen such bull(insert expletive) before.” At least we have Derrick, our sniper, Eric, our excited man with a shotgun, and Ryan??? to keep the average technical skill up. 

My home back in California is located within range of a PokeStop, and living with my mom— an avid Pokemon Go addict herself— I’ve had my fair share of Pokemon Go experiences. However, I never expected to encounter a group of even more avid Pokemon Go addicts here. Whether it’s ditching our research objectives (for a raid), hurriedly running to IMU with my mom on open house day (for a raid), or frequenting Pokemon Go during labs (once again, for raids), it’s safe to say that nobody throws consistent excellent curveballs quite like David. 

Part 6: SSPeople

There is so much that I’d like to say about the people at SSP, but mere words in this blog post can’t do them justice. Since my first day here, I’ve been hit with the feeling that these aren’t ordinary friends, or best friends; rather, they’ll be my people for a lifetime. To all of my buddies in the superior hallway, to all of the people I’ve played pool with, to all of the Pokemon Go addicts, to all of you that I’ve had midnight ramen with, to all of my friends who let me sneak into their rooms past curfew, to the best research group, to those who listened to my oversharing rants, and to everyone else: thank you all for making these past 4 ½ weeks some of the best in my life. 

SSP, a once in a lifetime educational experience, isn’t solely about the lectures, activities, labs, or psets. It’s about the people. We may encounter enzyme assays or plasmids or even MOE again, but we will never, ever again, stay here in Wells Goodbody as the 36 of us. We, 36 ambitious kids from all across the world who would’ve never met each other if not for SSP, have now formed some of the closest relationships and the strongest connections possible. We, now a community, will meet again in the future, but our time together now can never be replicated.

I hope to continue making memories with everyone even as our time together draws to a close. Here’s to the memories we’ve made, and here’s to the memories we’ll make. Let’s make this last week count!

———-

Hi everyone! My name is Erika, and I’m an incoming senior from Los Angeles, CA. At SSP, I am a member of Research Group 3, Carol’s roommate, and technically an unofficial third roommate of B206. In my free time here, I run the SSP IU meme page on Instagram (follow @sspiumemes), unintentionally start revolutionary movements (matcha, b-town crewnecks, rpt, and unfortunate injuries), and totally do not submit my blog posts a day late. 

P.S. An additional huge thank you to the amazing directors, TAs, guest faculty, and all of the other administrators that have made this program so amazing 🙂