Why I want to become a scientist

There are many reasons, but the video The inner life of the cell made by Harvard biologists and animators is one of them. I think it shows the beauty of what is going on in every in your body with every breath and with every heartbeat. In my day-to-day work I try to be emotionally detached and rational about science. I have to be. But every time I feel overwhelmed by homeworks, papers, tests, or lab work I watch the video again to remind myself why I love science so much and remotivate myself to push through another challenge.

Cool isn’t it? Here is the video with explanations of what is going on:

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Wow, so much happened in the last few days that I doubt can blog on all of it.

I experienced partying, city adventures, and exciting new exercise equipment all in the last three days. Here are the highlights:

A party with my best friends

A friend of mine was recently accepted in a prestigeous study-abroad program and we’re all thrilled. To celebrate, we threw a big party that began with card games (No, not a drinking game or poker. We played Belot, a card game that actually requires some thinking. Hardcore thinking for me, since I’m still learning all the rules and strategies, and trust me, there’s quite a few of them.) and ended in wild sweaty dancing to our very own Bulgarian folk music, that only a true Bulgarian can handle. I had a great time, even though I had to hide my tears at one point. So many good friends are leaving next year and I will really, really miss them.

Lost in Richmond, part 1

Yesterday we took a bus to Downtown Richmond to go to a sushi reataurant. On the bus ride we changed our minds and decided to go to an Ethiopian reataurant instead. Finally, we got off at the wrong stop, walked around downtown for a bit and ended up at another sushi place we had not known about, but they had great sushi and low prices. Everyone loved it, especially Mila and I. We never have a trip downtown where we don’t get lost, and we just love things not going according to plan. We have walked through more shady neighbourhoods then we would admit, and the thrill’s the same every time. Somehow, we always get lucky though and find a new great place to hang out at.

Lost in Richmond, part 2

While at the sushi place, I dropped my purse on the floor and a few item flew out of it under the dining table. I gathered most of them but I forgot to pick up my phone and left it at the restaurant. Of course, I found all about this when I was already back home, so Mila and I had to come back the next day and pick it up. Then we started looking for a place to have breakfast and coffee at and probably walked for twenty minutes in the cold until we found a Starbucks. Nothing like having a warm oatmeal and coffee in a cold rainy day! We spend a few hours just talking girl talk before we decided it’s time to finally go back home.

The new Expresso bikes at the gym

Our uni probably has the fanciest college gym in the whole country! A brand new addition to the eqipment are the new Expresso bikes which had me working out very hard in the last few days. Expresso bikes are a fusion between a stationary bike and a computer game. As you pedal, you move through a 3D graphic scenery, competing against a virtual pacer (whose difficulty you can adjust) and against ghosts (riders created from your previous workouts). You can also play a game in which you chase coins and dragons for points. The bike connects to the internet using a wireless rooter and  uploads the length, speed, calories burned, heart rate and other information for each ride. You can log in at www.expresso.net and track your progress.

I finally found a piece of exercise equipment I can enjoy. Exercise usually bores me, I strive to do  it because I have to, but it’s hard to do your best when you don’t enjoy something. My mind always needs something to do. I always eat when I’m reading if there’s no one to talk to. I watch TV shows (and by that I mean House, of course!) when I clean my room. I listen to music when I walk to classes. When I’m going to bed, I read or watch TV until total exhaustion, because otherwise my thoughts, suddenly left without focus, run in crazy circles until I get up and start walking around the room (walking helps me think) and then there’s not falling asleep till 5 AM. Even in my blog posts you can see the total lack of organization in my head, translated to lack of organization in the posts. I have a restless mind that just won’t shut up.

Which is why I find exercise a pain. I put on my earbuds and for five minutes I’m enjoying the music, the cardio routine and the gym environment. Then the seconds on the time monitor start going slower and slower. I try to take my mind away from the pain of exertion but there’s nothing I can focus on for longer than 30 seconds, so by the end of a lame 20-minute workout I have watched TV, listened to 40 seconds of each song in my playlist, rated every person in the gym on a hotness scale from 1 to 10, had a few ideas about short stories I’ll never have the time to write, and daydreamed about being a stationary plant that doesn’t need to train any muscles and photosynthesizes instead of worrying about its diet. And I’m still very, very bored.

On the bike it was a whole different story. First, I made it my goal to beat every single rider to the finish line, and to my surprise I rode faster than quite a few of them. Then again, I was on the basic level. I completed a 25-minute trail in 15 minutes and spent 15 more chasing dragons and gaining points on the interactive game. I decided I was done because of the amount of sweat, lack of breath, and burning sensation in my hips, not out of boredom. It felt really exciting, so I can’t wait to go to the gym tomorrow and try a different trail or some other game options.


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Practising endurance

Daylight savings time was harder on me than I thought it would be. I woke up tired, dragged through the day functioning at 50% of what I usually am, and found myself being really confused every now and then as to what I should be doing, because the time change scrambled my routine completely. Then, after what seemed like an endless day in the lab, I came back home with the worst headache I’ve had in a while. Two aspirins and it was gone, but it bothers me how often I get headaches lately. Maybe after constant reading and staring at a computer screen since I was three, I’ve finally damaged my vision and need glasses? But I have no problem seeing anything, no matter the distance.

What I’m proud of today is how well I functioned, despite feeling less than awesome. I stayed positive, telling myself that even though I felt bad, it was only an off day. I used to be the type of person that whenever faced with imperfect conditions would just panic, thinking, Now what? How am I gonna handle the work when I feel like fainting, I will totally ruin the experiment. Today, my thoughts were something along the lines of, Oh, I feel like fainting but WILL finish the experiment and will do it well. That gave me strength and I even started feeling a bit better. (BTW, some of you may think I’m being hard on myself and should’ve just left my work when I wasn’t feeling well, but when you do these experiments, you have to do the whole 8-hour load of work at once or results will be meaningless).

I was done with lab work at about 7 PM, came back to my room and passed out. Now, three hours later, I’ve still done nothing about my daily exercise challenge and I don’t like that. My head still hurts a bit, though, and I feel too tired for heavy exercise, so I’ll just walk for an hour or so around the lake. I know, not much of an exercise, but at least I get the benefits of movement and fresh air. Besides, the campus is so beautiful when everybody’s gone for spring break, the weather is sunny and warm, and everything is really tranquill.


Richmond at dusk

Some news from the friends in Buffalo: My friends had a nice trip to Niagara falls, and are now resting in their hotel rooms and trying to find something to do, because the town is totally deserted in the winter when not many tourists come. Tomorrow, they’re going to see the falls and will take many pictures, some of which I promise to post later.

And before I go, here’s another photo of my campus on Monday when it was covered in snow and everyone got an extra day of break:

Richmond, covered in snow

Richmond, covered in snow

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Spring break fun with friends

It was a somehwat boring day doing experiments in lab, and I haven’t analyzed the results yet, so I don’t even know if they’re good. Keep your fingers crossed!

If anybody ever wondered what young wannabe scientists do, it’s a rollercoaster of a job. There’s days like today when all you do is make up solutions, put them in many test tubes, stick the test tube in the machine, make a measurement, take it out, stick the next test tube in the machine, make a measurement, take it out, stick the next test tube in the machine…And there are the days when you analyze data, find out something and get really excited, because you’re the first one to know this, a shiny new piece of nature’s puzzle. Then you realize the answer raises a 100 more questions and get really excited planning the next set of experiments. Then there are the days when you go to conferences, present and for several minutes feel like a rockstar when everybody asks questions about your work. What you’ll do next and where it will take you can be totally unpredictable and I love it!

After lab work was done, I went for a walk to the grocery shop with my friend. It’s a 20-minute walk through a grove in a very warm evening with bright moonlight and a fresh breeze. We were all excited for spring break, my friends a little more excited than me, because they’re leaving for Niagara falls this morning. Yet, I was happy to finally relax, crack jokes and laugh out loud. I had a blast and now I’m just having some do-nothin’-much time and planning out the next day, so that I manage to go to the gym tomorrow.

Off to bed now anticipating another carefree spring break day.

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An uplifting day

Nothing much happened today but I guess it’s just a feel-good day. I’m so blessed, I have a dynamic and full life, I’m working on having the research career I always dreamed of when I was a kid, and I have an AMAZING boyfriend and friends. And on top of all of that, spring break’s just around the corner! Did I mention the sun finally smiled on snow-covered Richmond today 🙂 Anyway, off to finish one last assignment and start planning all the things I’ll be enjoying during Spring Break!


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Andy once jokingly asked me if I have a song to illustrate each different moment of my life. I do. I remember a song I like almost instantaneously and I go through life with a soundtrack playing in my head, like in the movies. Some emotion I’m experiencing or a phrase said by someone triggers it and the soundtrack starts playing. I even have songs associated with moments in my life that hasn’t happened yet or may hpefully never happen, such as getting married (The right man, Christina Aguilera) or staying in a psych ward (Lithium, Evanescence).

There’s a song I associate with leaving school and going back home, called Korabli (Ship) by the Russian singer of the 1960s and 1970s Vladimir Visotsky.

I like the guys voice, deep but with a barely audible obertone of sadness to it, and the song itself is somewhat melancholic. It reminds me of a time and place when artists cared a lot less what kind of music sells well, hence there were less boyish looking male singers and less songs about chillin’ in da club. The music and the lyrics are more personal and introspective.

My Russian’s wayyy too bad to translate all the lyrics of the song, but, basically, the guy sings of returning home ot his wife, friends and dreams. “I will finally return…, I will finally sleep” and there’s also a beautifully sad line that I can relate to: “I don’t believe in destiny and even in myself”.

I remembered this song since I’m about to go back home again, and I played it all day long. Does the man sound…tired? Or is it just me hearing my own weariness through the lyrics? In the last two and a half years I’ve traveled more than in all my life before I went to college, and sometimes…a lot of times, I feel tired. Tired of changing the place I live every few months, tired of dragging suitcases across the ocean, tired of meeting new people and never sticking around long enough to form the deep, selfless, lasting friendships. I miss having a home, though I left to start building a life of my own and a home of my own, and I’m sure will have that someday.

So I’m melancholic but excited to finally be going back home, and this time Andy will come visit and spend Christmas with me in Bulgaria. I anticipated it so much it scares me! So I play the song to soothe me and it somehow remind’s me it’s all real, and even though I don’t have a home to live in, I have a home to get back to. It’s what keeps me going through these last few days.


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Stuffed animals

I’m obsessed with stuffed animals. Despite being over 21 and feeling to old to have them, I keep buying them, hugging them when I go to bed and being proud of having many sizes and cuteness levels. Stuffed animals are my crack…along with shoes, makeup, the latest House episodes, the game The Sims, and, of course, SUGAR in all its forms and flavors.

The trip to the panda gift shop in DC felt like an overdose…


I’d never guess there are stuffed animals I wouldn’t buy if I had endless amounts of cash… Until I found this piglet on amazon.com:


Is it break-dancing? Is it an acrobat? Is it doing yoga? Is it flashing the children with some censored parts of the stuffed piglet anatomy?

However, the break-dancing piglet looks pretty normal next to this creature:


This life form must’ve been designed by someone on acid. When the acid trip got bad he created the next one:


Nothing like a crab with polka dots and strabismus to teach little kids to be tolerant and friendly towards people with eye disorders.

The hext stuffed animal is not an animal. It’s mustache:


Last but not least, some stuffed animals are not ugly or funny. They’re just plain disturbing:


The perfect gift to inspire you little one to be an oceanographer. Or maybe a reference to Jaws for the newer generation who haven’t yet heard of it.


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