Renewed Enthusiasm

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No travel photos this time, sorry! A post about my trip across the border to Mendoza, Argentina will follow when I have a chance to upload the pictures.

I am continuing to learn about solid mechanics as well as teaching myself Python, a programming language. I have finished the book titled Biomechanics: Concepts and Computation, and am supplementing my reading with Classical and Computation Solid Mechanics, by Y.C. Fung and Pin Tong. I’m hoping that this second book will bolster my knowledge from the first. Reading a textbook cover to cover is not a very efficient way for me to learn. It’s challenging to stay focused and without doing practice problems, I recognize that I do not fully understand how to manipulate and apply what I know. For this reason, I have met with my professor and have identified key chapters that I need to review and go over the example problems in the first book. He then recommended the second supplementary reading as well. It’s a very different learning experience than being in a classroom, and I’m doing my best to come up with a plan that works well for me.

Solid mechanics knowledge is critical for the project I am working on, and is integral for engineers, engineering scientists, and bioengineers alike. Fung’s textbook opens by saying:

“This book is written for engineers who invent and design things for human kind and want to use solid mechanics to help implement their designs and applications… It was further designed to serve those physical and natural scientists and biologists and bioengineers whose activities might be helped by the classical and computational solid mechanics. For example, biologists are discovering that the functional behavior of cells depends on the stresses acting on the cell.”

Studying solid mechanics on my own is, without a doubt, challenging, but I know it is a very good use of my time.

As far as learning Spanish goes, I’m making progress for sure! Some days are better than others, but overall I feel as though I am learning more and more every day. I eat lunch with a few of the guys from my lab, and it’s a good time for me to speak and listen. I speak English with some people in the Biomed office, and Spanish with others. Having a mix is a good stepping stone. I already find myself understanding much more than when I arrived, and slowly I’m gaining the confidence to speak and string my sentences together more quickly. Poco a poco | little by little.

My daily life is quite feliz | happy. I am not bound to certain start and end times, which allows for more flexibility in my days. While I was taking classes at Drexel and preparing for this trip, I often let little positive things fall to the wayside to leave more room for what was pressing at the moment. I wasn’t unhappy, I just missed the little things that made me feel more accomplished and fulfilled. Here – without homework, with later dinners, and with longer daylight hours – I make time to run after work at least three days a week and read more often: I just finished Animal Farm and am on to reading The Alchemist. And I wear my retainers. Mom and Dad, you spent good money on my teeth and I’m trying to keep them nice! haha

The weather here is finally warming up, and the San Joaquín campus is beautiful. When I don’t have to work on my computer, I can go outside, sit in the grass, and take notes/work through practice problems. Also, I don’t know if I mentioned it earlier, but there are campus dogs! Santiago has a big problem with strays, but PUC rounded up the ones on campus, vaccinated them, feeds them, and identified the friendly ones with green collars, and the not-so-nice ones with red collars. I’ve found one particular dog that I really like and he and I hang out sometimes. Not for lunch though, I’m with my human friends for that!

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