Starting to Pack My Genes: The Travel Abroad Basics

Hello! Hallo! Hej! Hallo!

You have officially entered my page where I will be telling my stories and adventures abroad to the magical far away kingdom across the pond, and I hope you will not be disappointed. Bare with me though- I have never done one of these “blog” things before of which people speak. (Pronounced blawg for those of you are new to this too. Honestly, they missed out spelling blog a much cooler way.) This is going to be a learning experience for myself, the blogger, and you the blogeree. Yes, we did just make a new word.

Before I leave the country in 16 days, I just wanted to give you a brief synopsis of what my trip will entail, what this trip means to me, and what it will mean for you.

The genetic make-up of this trip will include the DNA essentials of: Accents, Tours, Genes, and Classes. 

The Pre-Tour:

I grew up as a science junky (some would even go as far as the word nerd but I disagree). I’m not afraid to admit I first started falling in love with science over a quirky NCIS forensic scientist character named Abbey (the Tony Dinozzo character may have been a draw too.) But as I matured, I found that my role models for science began to mature as well. If anyone asks me who discovered the beautiful double helix, I will quickly say Rosalind Franklin as opposed to the large majority of the population that have been told Watson and Crick were the sole discoverers. Rosalind fell in their shadow when the exposure to x-rays lead to the cancer that took her life and she was never awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. However, as a female in the world of male dominated science, I hope to take her essence overseas and eloquently speak the language she helped discover in the program “Genetics: The Global Language of Biology.” Which is why I believe this trip is written in my genes.

Double helix, double helix, double helix, double helix, double helix. Bet you can’t say that five times fast.

The cool part is: genetics applies to everyone. Whether you are interested in the science itself or are in complete denial of the fact that you look like your mother/father, everyone is unique at the fundamental basis of varying nucleotides and that’s what separates you from me and the other billion people in this world. Some were dealt good nucleotide hands; others not so lucky. Whether you or a loved one is effected everyday by enigmatic genetics, our chromosomes will continue to replicate and divide with or without us expanding this field of knowledge. Genetics is something perpetual, a force to be reckoned with; and that is how this trip applies to you.

If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, I found this to be a fascinating sound bite in my genetics book;

“It is interesting that many of the historical experiments revealing the circularity of bacterial and plasmid genomes coincided with the publication and popularization of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Consequently, a review of bacterial genetics at that time led off with the following quotation from the trilogy:

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,

One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”

(Griffiths, Anthony J. F.; Wessler, Susan R.; Carroll, Sean B.; Doebley, John (2015-01-12). An Introduction to Genetic Analysis (Page 204). W. H. Freeman).

 

This basically means the Lord of the Rings is really a geneticist.

 

I will begin this trip with my mom, AKA my 100% mitochondrial DNA donor (btw thanks mom.) Our first stop will be to the lovely land of Germany where we will spend several days and do all touristy things. We have rented a mini cooper to get around and can you say, “Hellloooooo autobahn”? The tour of Germany will start in Frankfurt and include stops at Rothenburg, and Füssen castles. We will continue on to Zurich, Switzerland where we will spend three days eating our way through the Swiss delicacies and exploring Mount Titlis at 10,000 feet in the Alps. I hope it all goes as smooth as Swiss cheese (minus the holes.)

After a week of fun explorations with my mom, we will end the mother-daughter tour in Cambridge, England where I will be left to my own devices within the study abroad group and schedule. The study abroad program will include the teachings of an upper division biology course with an emphasis in genetics, taught throughout Cambridge, England, the birthplace of genetics, and Stockholm, Sweden, home to the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. We will spend the first two weeks of the program in Cambridge, rooming and studying at the University of Cambridge’s Clare College. This part of the course will focus on the history of genetics and how it has evolved into what we know as today’s genetics. For a time, even Rosalind Franklin studied at Cambridge, and that just makes my spindles tingle. From there, we will move to Stockholm, Sweden and spend the last two weeks of the program here. Studying at Stockholm University while rooming on a houseboat hostel, we will focus on how genetics is gearing up for the future and innovation. This is also when the program will be gearing down and where we will say adjö (Swedish for good bye) to the friends and teachers who we will get to know very well over the month.

The program coming to a close will also mark the start of a new adventure. My best friend, Petra, AKA my sister chromatid, and I will be spending a week on our own in Amsterdam, Netherlands. For right now, our plans are still a little London foggy, but will clear more when we get there and make the last plans before we cross the Atlantic. One thing for sure we will visit, is the Van Gough museum which I ear is pretty good. Whatever we end up doing, I know will be a blast with my long lost sister whom I just happened to find as my roommate freshman year.

As I travel through Europe, I will keep this blog updated with entries and photos. This will be my personal journal/album, and your personal tour guide manual. Any blog updates will also be posted on Facebook and/or Instagram. Thank you for reading blogeree! Only 16 more days!

Bye for now,

Carly 

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