Day 2: Chemistry Symposium!

Tuesday, March 14th 2017


Breakfast

Ahh, the day has finally come.

We woke up early in the morning and grabbed some breakfast downstairs at the hotel. I wasn’t even at the bottom of the staircase yet, and I caught a strong aroma of croissants and baguettes that must have come out of the oven not too long ago. I placed a warm, steamy croissant on my plate along with some yogurt, Nutella, and orange juice. Ooo, it was so yummy and fluffy. Miam! The yogurt was a lot less sweet and a little thinner than the American equivalent. Actually, it reminded me a lot of Vietnamese yogurt. And this makes a lot of sense because Vietnam used to be colonized by France as part of French Indochina in 1887. This is why the Vietnamese cuisine has so much French influence to it, from our banh mi using French baguettes to our banh flan that is similar to crème brûlée. I would recommend reading this article here to learn more: http://epicureandculture.com/vietnamese-cuisine-french-influence/


Colloque de chimie AKA The chemistry symposium

This time, we were planning to take the tram to the chemistry building instead of walking. I forgot about the tram ticket that I got yesterday, so I had to run back and grab it. ^^’ Luckily, some people waited for me and helped me board the tram. I was caught off guard by the automatic doors that shut as soon as I slipped inside and almost got caught between them!

Judging by my bewildered look, the French students asked me if I have ever taken the tram before. I said I never have and they chuckled. They told me to put my ticket in this machine which proceeded to take it and return it to me with flashing lights. Looking around, the tram was packed with people ready to start their days. There was only one stop until we reached the university, so it was a short ride.

Our first program was attending Dr. Ayres’ seminar on heparin-mimicking polymers. After that, we had time to walk around and look at students’ posters in the lobby of the building. Almost all of them were in French except two near the elevator that were actually created by our French students. I went to posters I found interesting, and the UB students that were in charge of them tried to explain their work in English. I could read most of what was on the poster too since science terms were usually cognates in English, and my French was coming back after all these years.

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Couscous, chicken, veggies, and a baguette for lunch at the school cafeteria.

My Group’s Presentation

My group presented in the late afternoon with our title being “CO2 Capture and storage, today’s concern”. I had rehearsed numerous times the night before and during the free time I had before with Erica, Aloïs, and Jackie. When the time came, we entered the room, which was really hot and humid for some reason. Probably from all the heated science discussions happening. 🙂

We were the first to present so I walked over to the side, relaxed my shoulders. Here we go.

I’m not a fan of public speaking (I really despise it actually). I know very well about my moderate performance anxiety which I could trace all the way back to presentations in middle school and my playing tests for concert band in high school. However, I knew it was something I couldn’t avoid. I admire people who know how to enunciate and choose the right words. From there, they can ultimately deliver an eloquent speech for their audience. Personally, my goal was to strive to speak slowly and make sure what is important does not get lost in my talk.

When my part came to speak, I made use of what I could to recreate what I did in rehearsal and noted when people nodded as I spoke. Oh, a good response.

After the presentation, we had some Q&A. And as I expected, it was challenging. But I didn’t want to let that scare me, so I did the best I could to convey my answers. There was applause at the end, and I was happy to be finished and succeed with my most worrisome aspect of the trip.

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Giving our presentation at the chemistry symposium

After the symposium, there was a reception with a buffet for everyone in the lobby. Seemingly endless trays of hors d’oeuvres were brought out as we mingled around. Cream puffs, small sandwiches, tuna, and crab appetizers galore.


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