Boy do I have a lot to write… Hopefully it won’t be a drag for you guys. Anyways, I guess I’ll start chronologically. I’m not 100% sure when I left off last time, but I’ll start on the weekend before my lab started.
Like I promised myself, I went back to the Natural History museum that I had found on a bike ride a few days ago; however, it was with an extra twist! Caitlin and Sarah (friends from UT) met me in Paris that same day because they were stopping there on the way to Sarah’s family’s house in the french countryside, so we all went to the natural history museum together! The great thing about this museum (or rather set of museums - it was a big park with various museums such as the evolution museum, geology museum, etc.) is that it’s free for students! So all we did was show our ID and they let us in. The first (out of two) museum that we went to was what they simply called the natural history museum, if I’m not mistaken. This was a pretty small building which consisted of fossils and bones in the typical way that one would imagine. What I liked about this one was that it seemed a lot more educational than what most museums are like - it separated the bones in categories such as primates, marsupials, snakes, etc. and showed you the similarities/differences in bone structures between different species. What I also noticed, which I have never seen, is that they showed you the bones (usually skulls) of the same animal as it grew up, which was very interesting. The other worthy thing to mention (otherwise I’ll write a novel) is the mutations section! It held bones and specimen that were mutated in very cool ways, such as cyclopses, two headed animals, siamese twins (there has to be a more scientific term for that, I feel silly saying that), and other weird mutations. After a ton of bones, we were a bit tired and so (after eating) we made our way to the second museum — the evolution museum.
The evolution museum was super modern and very cool! (Especially when compared to the first museum which was very old and “classical” in the sense that it was all just bones and scientific names… not even descriptions and forget about anything in english.) This one was primarily filled with taxidermy, which was a really nice change because we got to actually see what the animals looked like. Because it was new, it was also a bit more interactive, in the sense that they let you walk around more and get close to things, as well as having some informational movies playing and things like that. What I also found interesting about this museum is that it had a lot of information on how humans are changing biology — a big focus on waste, habitat destruction, and endangered species — all of which was not thrown to you in a guilty way, it was just to raise awareness and give people the facts.
I was extremely lucky to be going through these two museums with two insanely smart biology majors, so I essentially got an incredible tour and information about practically all we saw (how they know all these things, I don’t know…). Over all it was very cool and it was a great way of spending 7 hours!
The next day (my last day before work) was very nice and relaxed. I went to the Jardin du Luxembourg again to read and enjoy the beautiful weather, walked around Blvd Saint-Michel, and essentially took advantage of the beautiful day. However, it was not all fun and games! I had to go to the mobile store (the brand is Orange, and is analogous to T-Mobile for example) and try to see how to fix my prepaid SIM card, which was not working correctly. I was a bit worried going in, considering that I had to speak about pretty technical stuff in french, so, like a good nerd, I had gone through a conversation all in my head and prepared the majority of the things that I expected to say ahead of time, which actually helped a lot (otherwise I freeze up and can’t say things that are super easy in french). In the end, it worked out a lot better than I had expected! While I didn’t understand a lot of what he said, I got my point across and understood the gist of what he was saying, resulting in a working SIM card! Yay! The ironic thing is that later that day I went to McDonalds and could not order an ice cream cone… Something which I thought would be much easier. I went to the register and said “Do you have vanilla ice cream in a cone?” (in French of course) and she replied something which I understood zero of, and so I just said “Oui” and she stared at me blankly until I realized that she didn’t give me a yes or no option, haha. Eventually, I managed to walk out with a plastic cup of softserve ice cream which I paid €3 for… Bullshit… Anyways, after hanging around the Latin Quarter, as they say, I rode around on a bike and enjoyed the city. I decided to start going towards the eiffel tower (which I haven’t visited this summer yet) but got distracted by Les Invalides (an old military establishment if I’m not mistaken, but now a war museum) and spent the rest of my afternoon walking around and reading the informational plaques around the giant building. After a while it started to rain so I decided to call it a day.
Anyways, I have finally started lab and have a ton to say about it but this post is insanely long and you guys won’t read it if I include the lab stuff on here too haha so I think I will write a big post on just my experience in my lab tomorrow :).