The Final Stretch of Spring Semester

Hello hello!

I left my last entry on a “will Lynsey get a summer internship?” cliffhanger, so I think I’ll address that first… I will officially be spending my summer in Mountain View, California (AKA the most awesome city in the country – look it up) with an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates – the science version of an internship) at The SETI Institute! (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) I’ll be working with one of their scientists to study the formation of planets around different types of stars, and investigate how these planets could form to support life. I’m very excited for this opportunity, and pleased to announce that I will be blogging again this summer, so you’ll get to hear all about it!

The beach near Ft. Lauderdale. Beautiful, turquoise waters.

The beach near Ft. Lauderdale. Beautiful, turquoise waters.

Spring break came and went, and it was really awesome. Being at Riddle is great, because all of the major spring break destinations are really just a few hours away by car. I cruised down to Ft. Lauderdale at 90 mph down I-95 and spent the week there, where my boyfriend is doing an internship with Spirit Airlines this semester. He spent the days at work, and I spent them swimming, sleeping, relaxing… oh, and gambling. Ft. Lauderdale is on the Seminole Indian Reservation, so there are lots of casinos! One of my guilty pleasures is blackjack; in Minnesota the gambling age is 18, so I used to go down to the casino every couple weeks, and I usually had a pretty good turn out. Over the break I went to a couple different casinos (mostly in search of a good $5 blackjack table, which are not as common here as they are back home), and over four trips I ended up winning twice, losing once, and breaking even the last time. It’s dangerous to my finances that the casino was only 20 minutes from where I was staying – probably a good thing we don’t have any up here in Daytona.

Ville Valo of HIM at their concert in Ft. Lauderdale - we had a great view of the stage, this is an iPhone picture!

Ville Valo of HIM at their concert in Ft. Lauderdale – we had a great view of the stage, this is an iPhone picture!

While in Ft Lauderdale, one of my favorite bands, HIM, had a concert at a club downtown (a great coincidence!), so we got to see them. They’re the first band I’ve seen three times, and in three different states for each tour, and they put on a really great show – a very long set, and a good mix of some of their really old music and their newest album. This was also my first concert as a 21-year-old, and let me tell you, it ain’t cheap.

On another music-related note, The Pretty Reckless launched their new album a couple weeks ago and it’s great. That is all.

Picture of some reef fishes taken with my underwater camera in Key Largo!

Picture of some reef fishes taken with my underwater camera in Key Largo!

One of the highlights of the break was snorkeling down in Key Largo. They take you out into the ocean about 30 min by boat – to the point that you really can’t see any land – and toss you in the water, equipped with a wet suit, mask, snorkel, and fins. And the water was so nice. There is a shallow reef of the coast of Key Largo, so you swim out to the reef and get to see all sorts of really cool corals, fish, and even some jelly fish and stuff. It was an awesome experience, and I highly recommend it if you ever have the opportunity. The coolest part was having an underwater camera – pictures below! I’m doing everything I can to do “Florida things” while I’m living in Florida. Overall, this was definitely the best spring break in my three years of college. It was a great escape, and just what I needed to get back into the swing of the whole school thing, after feeling pretty burnt out the last few weeks.

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There’s less than a month left of Spring semester, and frankly I can’t wait for it to be over. I mentioned a couple times that this semester had earned the title “semester of death,” and I think I have to agree. So I wanted to pass along a lesson that I’ve learned to any and all of you reading this, especially those of you sitting in high school having never gotten anything below a B+: college will test you. You, most likely, won’t get out of an engineering degree with a 4.0; not to discourage you from trying of course, because I certainly have been, and I’m, of course, not giving up. But I’ve had a bit of a mid-life crisis (well, quarter-life, I suppose) about my grades this semester, and I’m finally starting to learn some things:

  1. Always give your best, and realize that you can’t give more than that.
  2. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t get the A.

I’m a huge perfectionist/over-achiever/etc., and I focus so much on grades. I remember when I got my first few B’s in high school, and it felt like the end of the world – I was convinced that I wouldn’t get into the colleges I wanted to. Well, I love my college, and now I don’t even remember what my GPA was in high school. So my words of wisdom are: grades aren’t everything. Put in your best effort, learn as much as your brain can hold, and that is what makes you successful, regardless of the number on your transcript. Don’t have a mental breakdown over a poor exam grade – take that as a lesson, and improve on it in the future. Stress never helps.

Speaking of the future, I’m beginning to figure out mine. Every EP student has to complete a senior design capstone project, which you start planning during the second semester of junior year and then work on throughout your senior year. Well, I was asked to be the Guinea pig for a “senior thesis” option, aimed at students looking to go to grad school,┬áin lieu of a group design project. I’m really excited about it, and I even have a topic, as of last week. I’ll be developing a one-dimensional atmospheric acoustics model in FORTRAN and MATLAB with flexible atmospheric parameters, which means that the model will be able to run for any planet. Then for my master’s thesis, I’ll use this model to do some scientific investigation into the propagation of atmospheric acoustic waves in the atmospheres of Venus, Earth, and Mars – three very different planets. This project will be a good mixture of planetary science, atmospheric physics, and development of a scientific tool.

Doing some homework with Sally the Space Hamster

Doing some homework with Sally the Space Hamster

That’s about it for this entry. Lots of cool stuff on the horizon, and still a lot to do before this semester comes to a close. I have three final projects and a thesis proposal to do, as well as third midterms, final exams, and standard weekly homework assignments before I’m free to go hunt aliens all summer. I’m also looking forward to having a nice long visit home before I start at SETI mid-June. And because I only needed a one-way ticket between here and home (since I’ll fly right from Minneapolis to San Francisco on SETI’s dime), and because the tickets were surprisingly cheap, I get to fly first class! That’s one to cross off the bucket list.

Oh, one more thing. ERAU does some really cool events, especially with all the different student organizations on campus. The week before spring break one of the fraternities hosted a fundraiser where you could pay $5 to sit in a pen full of puppies for 30 minutes. Who doesn’t like being climbed on by adorable puppies?

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Excuse the extreme Florida-ness of my hair in this picture.

Puppy selfie! Excuse the extreme Florida-ness of my hair in this picture.