Saturday, February 27, 2010

Se-Kyung's Graduation from SNU

In the title header for this blog it says that I'm 'currently in the midst' of a PhD. Sooner or later I think I'm going to have to update that statement to 'currently somewhere in the mists'. While I realised that it wasn't going to be a walk in the park, the difficulty of studying here has surpassed a lot of my expectations.
Some difficulties arise from the logistical quagmire of modern molecular biology, but most are related to the eccentricities of particular joyless lab colleagues who have perhaps spent too much time inhaling volatile chemicals. My project interests me greatly, but life continues in a surreal kind of personal stalemate, where half of me wants to escape the difficulties and the other half won't let me.

But at the end of every academic tunnel there is a light. It's sometimes so miniscule that some may completely miss the tiny 7-photon emission, which, incidentally, is the minimum amount of light that a human eye can detect. Luckily for us though, a divinely selected labmate will occasionally accelerate towards the end, and finally emerge in a blazing fireball of scholastic glory, leaving behind the formless abyss that is grad student life.
Its beckoning glow encourages the rest of us, still meandering aimlessly in the murky mudpools of the pre-thesis swamp.

Yesterday, that is exactly what happened to our master's student, Se-Kyung Kim. More or less.

Se-Kyung just completed a 2 year degree here, after probably what seemed like an eternity for her. She spent countless hours repeating cell counts, running centrifuges and inoculating rice plants in the fields of Iksan. All of the hard work finally paid off and it was time for her to graduate.

Here she is with Eun-Hye, her favourite lunchtime buddy and lab gossip correspondent. The view in the background is of Gwanaksan, which is a mountain close to our campus.

And here are the three of us, as portrayed by my camera. I propped it up on a nearby post, with a 10 second detonation fuse.
Although it looks like I'm making the famous Korean loveheart sign with my hands, it's entirely accidental.
Apparently that's the way I like to hold my camera case in photos.

Korean labs are a minefield of unwritten customs and etiquette. Successful navigation often comes second nature to those who grew up here, but for the rest of us it's often a matter of trial-and-explosion. Hong-sup is a lab senior and passive-aggressive enforcer of the status-quo, but I don't mind him too much. He's certainly a lot nicer than the other senior we have, whose name we shall not mention, lest we taint the ethical purity that this blog has become.

More or less.

And on the left there is Gi-Yong, one of our new students who spent 14 years studying in Vancouver. She's Korean, but westernised to a delightful extent.

Se-Kyung has quite a lot of friends from the other labs on level 5, some of whom graduated simultaneously. Sujin used to study in the Clinical Plant Pathology Lab and was also a cheerful character to have around. It's sad to see them leave.

So what do you do when you graduate from a master's degree? You buy yourself a nice handbag to celebrate.
This is Se-Kyung's new handbag that matched her graduation gown quite admirably. I wonder if it was intentional.
She recently applied, and was accepted into Samsung Hospital as a cancer researcher.

Congratulations Se-Kyung and all the best for future!


Anonymous said...


But no selcas this time? Se-Kyung, I am disappoint.

CheaYee said...

MCM handbag? That must cost a bomb!!