The Welch Diaries

After five weeks living in a dorm with cockroaches and spiders, I’m so glad to be back in my own house, my own bed and my own, clean restroom. The last month I’ve spent at Texas Tech University as part of the Welch Summer Scholars Program, where I worked together with a Chemistry professor to research the design of a new catalyst for asymmetric oxidative dearomatization reactions. (Yeah, don’t worry if you have no idea what that is. I had no idea either until a few days before my paper and poster were due…) Basically, it was both a lot of chemistry and fun, but also it was a time for all of us to meet each other and figure out life on our own. And despite the fact that technically, I was “learning during the summer,” I can, without a doubt, say that the first half of my summer has been a blast.

There are eight of us summer camp students, and the bond we formed the past five weeks I hope will last for a lifetime. And if any of y’all are happening to read this, I want you to know that I’m so glad to have gotten to know you so well, and please keep in touch (so that I can take you to Fuegos for the best queso in the world).

I’ve learned so much these past couple of weeks, so it’d be a pity if I didn’t share at least some of the tips and reminisce over crazy incidents. Of course, I won’t be focusing on my actual research, but if you want to read my paper, here it is:

Synthesis of Chiral Aryl Iodide Catalysts for Asymmetric Oxidative Dearomatization Reactions.

But here are my most memorable experiences at camp, be it at the dorms, in the mountains or in the lab for anyone about to spend more than two weeks in a college campus.

1. Cockroaches are scared of YOU: If you know anything about me, I hate cockroaches. But I hate them even more when they’re alive. So towards the end of my camp, I woke up one morning to find a cockroach chilling on top of my laundry basket. I devised this genius plan to trap and kill it, but found myself too scared, even after turning on Rihanna to full volume to get my adrenaline running. With my fellow chem students, we thought it’d die if we sprayed bleach on it. It ran under my bed. So then we thought the alcohol in my perfume would work. Nope, I just wasted half of my Victoria’s Secret perfume. In the heat of the moment, I grabbed a slipper and put it out of both of ours misery.
Moral of the story: It’s going to happen wherever you are, whenever you are. Your parents won’t be there to kill it for you.

2. Less is more: Since I was the only one who flew in, I brought two suitcases filled with clothes and necessities while some had brought full length mirrors and rice cookers. Didn’t have room for that. I managed pretty well….cleaning was easier, I didn’t lose anything and I found that I could live in an environment totally different from my own home. But I still had to clean my own mess.
Moral of the story: Don’t haul your house. No one will clean up after you if you can’t.

3. Mac&Cheese is hard: One of my friends was making mac and cheese when my other roommate yelled, pointing at the smoke curling out the microwave. I asked if she had added water, and a horrified look passed over her face. Sad thing is, our fire alarm (which is right next to the microwave) did not go off.
Moral of the story: Be careful. Parents won’t be there to make sure you don’t screw up.

4. Movie Nights: My roommates and I often stayed up late into the night, either watching Bollywood movies or discussing life (or stalking people on Facebook: hElL iZ rEaL). And despite having to wake up early the next days, I don’t ever regret those late night talks. Every person you get to know is a new perspective that you get to see.
Moral of the story: Get to know your roommates. You never know what sort of bonds you’ll form.

5. Pie Bar: Lubbock has a really nice Pie Bar (next to Pei Wei). If you ever get the chance, go try it out. But because I ate out so many times (as well as ordered at least ten pizzas during my stay), I was left with around $150 on my food card. So I almost bought out the entirety of the market’s gum section. In all honestly, I could have used that money to eat at the cafeteria rather than go out so many times, but that doesn’t mean dorm food is good…
Moral of the story: $$$ doesn’t just appear in your debit card. At least not in mine.

6. Kiss and make up: There was one major incident, where the girls and the guys literally couldn’t stand each other for a couple of days. (Read more from my friend’s blog here.) But as my friend wrote in her own blog, don’t hold grudges and apologize when it’s needed. These are your friends, and you don’t want to lose them.
Moral of the story: You will not die if you apologize, even if you do it more than once. Your ego is not worth the price of a friend.

7: Have fun: We took excursions out to Palo Duro and hiked for six hours. Bring lots of water if you go! I also found out that Wii bowling helps immensely when you’re actually bowling at Main Event. You’re out to do research and learn, but it’s still summer. Relax a bit and maybe even binge watch Grey’s Anatomy every once in a while.
Moral of the story: Life is too short to not enjoy it.

8: Humor: My professor is 6’3”. I’m 5’1″. My favorite memory of lab was when we were growing crystals on the bottom of the flask, and he put it above his head to look at their progress. Keeping it above his head, he asks me how I feel about the crystals.  See the problem? Yeah, I couldn’t see the crystals because they were so high above my head. So then we just both laughed.
Moral of the Story: Talk to your professor and grad students! They’re pretty cool when you get to know them. Also, I’m short.

9. Exercise: Don’t make freshman fifteen a thing, even if you’re just a summer camper. I took advantage of my REC pass and went to Zumba and core classes as often as I could. And it was free! I definitely did not make gains on the scale, but I feel like my abs are stronger. But that may just be my brain lying to me.
Moral of the story: Exercising can actually be fun. Go to ZUMBA and dance your stress off!

So that about wraps up my Welch trip. To all you future summer campers or rising freshmen in college, have fun! Once again to my Welch G’s—thanks!

Shout out to Amanda for being the best chaperone anyone can ask for. Thanks for taking us out to dinner and dessert, for dealing with our craziness and just overall being amazing. ❤

***LAST THING: My roommate Mal wrote an AMAZING blog post about her time at Welch too, AND YOU SHOULD READ IT TOO RIGHT HERE.

Missing one person in the pic, but he's in our <3s

Missing one person in the pic, but he’s there in spirit. 😛

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