Monthly Archives: April 2011

Summer Sun….

Hi everyone! Truly, time flies. Another term is at its end. And I am certain that everyone is relishing the higher frequency of sunny days. Though some are done with exams but there are many still poring over notes and textbooks, typing on their laptops to complete their unfinished projects and at intervals wishing if only they could fast forward time through the exam weeks, because of course there is so much to do this summer, no ? (of course I am talking about fun, I am not so much into academics :)). The nimbus clouds are taking their decision of retreat, the skies are blue, the trees are about to be lush and green, the cyclists are out, the hikers and mountain climbers have prepared their gear and all fun lovers are looking forward to having a wonderful time this summer.

Today I am really excited because I had a great hike with my friends around Sasamat Lake. Actually the plan was to go to Belcarra but we got off the bus at a wrong place and eventually were lost. So we moved along the road and found a trail. The high canopy blocked the sun and it was colder in and around the trail as compared to places directly under the sky. And at some places it was really dark that it evoked an eerie feeling and I was reminded of serials like ‘LOST’ and movies like ‘Wrong turn’.

But finally, after poring over a few maps and being assisted by a few cyclists, we reached Sasamat Lake. It was a very calm and serene place. If only the lake were a bit warmer, I would not have let go of the chance to take a swim.

Seriously, after a long rainy spell, I am feeling rejuvenated for the first time. Though I am already looking forward to how to spend the beautiful summer, I am also reminded of the past few months. For sure, academics is very important and for everything to go right, I think it is indispensable to have a nice work environment. I want to take the opportunity to write about those who I enjoyed to have the company of in my office.

Jeremy Moulson. He joined Dr Green’s research group with me in September. As I am from Aerospace Engineering background, I really enjoyed having conversations about undergraduate studies with him (because he as well is an aersopace engineering graduate from Carleton University). It was great to having those brainstorming sessions in which he discussed about designing an experimental setup to demostrate the phenomenon of aeroelasticity.

I remember those innovative ideas of his about renewable thermal energy which he came up with after the the ‘convection heat transfer- MECH 572’ classes.

Michael Gosselin. He is an undergraduate student working as a co-op, assisting Jeremy in the design and construction of his experimental setup. It was really fascinating to see how, using sophisticated electronics, computer softwares, etc he built up the setup.

As I am a great music lover, it was really surprising to find he likes a famous Indian singer (Kailash Kher). And I am sure that photography enthusiasts are aware of his knack in the field.

Drew Serles. Drew is a great ski enthusiast and the occupant of the other half of my tiny office. He, as well, is a new graduate student under the supervision of Dr Green and he joined in September 2010.

He and I are about to start our research from May. We still have to figure out how to distribute work among the co-op students who are to join us in May.

Purushotam Kumar. He is one of those graduate students who are going to graduate very soon. Frankly, he is one of the most hard-working people I have seen in life. He completed his undergraduate courses in mechanical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, India and joined Dr Green’s research group in September 2009.

He is a great guy and very arduous. He is from a distant corner of the world and I must say that very few people who have had a background like him, make it to wherever he is today. My congratulations to him for his selection in the Ph.D program of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne and I wish him all the best for his future endeavors.

So I hope everyone has started planning on how to make this summer productive and fun. I see it’s 2 AM and even after a long day of hiking there is no sleep in my eyes. I am that excited haha! Ok everyone, I wish good luck to those who still have some exams pending and to the rest, have fun in the summer sun!

I see that once again so softly

The sun is beating on the face

Even at the end the sun departs with a kingly flair

With a majestic purple haze ūüôā

Stress, Food, Sunshine… Vancouver!

The¬†crazy month of March finally passed. Was I stressed? Hmm… I’ll let you be the judge of that…

As I predicted it earlier on, the past four weeks were filled with the ever-so-deepening dark circles under my eyes, and most of the muscles in my body didn’t get any exercise except for those around my fingers and wrists (necessary for never ending typing activities).

Unfortunately, when you are too busy to get everything done in time, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to do them when you miss the deadline. Most journals and conferences, as far as I have seen, give you extensions on the original deadlines.

I think that’s the worst part.

If all deadlines were firm, then you will try your best to finish your stuff on time, and if you didn’t, then that would be the end of it – you can give yourself a pat in the back: “Too bad, maybe next time. You tried your best.” All the late nighters and lack of healthy eating habits during the few weeks(or months) of work will have an end, at least temporarily, and you’ll be able to take a rest for a few days.¬†But if you thought it was all over, and they give you an extension, then you don’t get the luxury of slowing down. A few more late nighters would do… just a few more…

But at the same time, I also know that I always have the option of saying “No” to things. I could say that “No, I don’t want to give that talk” or “No, I don’t think I want to submit to that journal”, but as a novice grad student I somehow don’t see it as an available option for me – i.e., all my stress, and unhealthiness are my fault.

But at times like this, it helps to be in an awesome city. Let me tell you a couple of things I did to hold on to the faint light of sanity in my brain throughout the past month or so.

De-stresser 1: Rare joy of the sunshine, and the gardens on campus.

Throughout the month of March, I went out for good food with my friends, good coffee, and even had some time to enjoy the sun. I mean, did everyone take a walk around the city or the campus the past couple of days? Wasn’t it just simply BEAUTIFUL?

So a couple of days ago, I decided to take a walk to Nitobe Memorial Garden for the first time. I didn’t want to waste the lovely sunshiny weather in Vancouver that I have been longing for.

Nitobe garden is a Japanese garden located on campus, which is small yet really well maintained, and is free for UBC students to walk around (there’s a small entrance fee for non-UBC students). It was my first time visiting the garden, partially because everyone told me that it’s a romantic place for a lovely date, which is the kind that I would’ve jump for joy to go on but unfortunately never happened.

So I went as a single lady with a female friend of mine as an alternative to taking a jog around the campus – i.e., we were wearing yoga/track pants and hoodies. The garden didn’t have too much sitting space, but I could totally see myself bringing a novel to the place, sitting down by the pond and reading while the squirrels, the wind, and the tree hustle and bustle ever so¬†uninterruptedly¬†around me.

Mind you, there are many gardens on campus that you may not be aware of. There’s the rose garden which appears in the episodes of Battlestar Galactica, and there’s the botanical garden. I think there’s more, but I have yet to explore them.

De-stresser 2: Non-technical books… even those in different languages…!

After walking around the garden, I found the Asian Library that I totally knew existed but never thought to drop by. Oh man, was I surprised. Having loved Korean literature when I was little, I loved reading things written in Korean. Most of that stopped when I started my engineering career. But hey, the library has shelves and shelves of non-technical books written in Chinese, Japanese and Korean, all available for me to read!!! (Except, I can only read stuff in Korean and English…)

Usually, finding Korean books in Canada is a bit of a hassle, because you either have to buy them online to be shipped to your Canadian address, or go to a local Korean bookstore, which is next to non-existent in Vancouver – I couldn’t find one near campus/downtown. I am sure this is the case with books written in other languages as well.

So, now I can totally see myself going to the library to pick up a copy of a novel written in a language that I didn’t learn my engineering stuff in, and bring it next door to the Nitobe Garden to read. How awesome is that? Better yet, I can even take a little 5 minute walk down to the Wreck Beach and read it on one of the logs.

I realized that there’s so many alternatives to relieving stress here on campus. But why am I coming to this realization now (after 1.5 years of spending my life here already)? The only thing that seems to be getting in the way between me and the awesome reading of a novel on a beach / sunshine-filled garden / coffee shop / comfy couch is work, deadlines, and mostly … me – the very person who decides to say “Yes” to doing everything and anything that gets thrown onto her plate. So at the end of the day, it’s really up to me to find AND enjoy the¬†glamorous life of a grad student here at UBC.

It’s up to me!! Ahhh, and knowing this, why on earth am I here at the lab on a Saturday afternoon?!

But don’t worry. I am also a lover of food, which has resulted in many food related trips throughout the stressful month of March (which is continuing into the month of April). More posts on epic stress-relieving food in Vancouver coming up soon…!

Oh, and before I forget, there’s this epic video floating around that shows you how ‘fun’ the campus CAN be to you. Check out the UBC LipDub forwarded to me, and all of the mech grads I think, via the Department Head (Dr. Sheldon Green):