Ashra Kolhatkar - “Summer arrives in Sackville”

Ashra Kolhatkar

Indian student Ashra Kolhatkar describes her journey from India to Canada to pursue a Biology degree at Mount Allison.

Summer has arrived in Sackville and this quaint little town that has been transformed. Despite how beautiful winter can be I’ve spent most of my three years in Canada wishing for green grass and blue skies. Now that I have a few solid months of warmth ahead of me, I can take a deep breath and really revel in it.

But, much has happened since the last snow and yesterday’s 20°C weather: midterms, final exams, term papers, and fairly unprecedented levels of stress. There were some pretty tough days, but in spite of it all this semester was the best of my six so far at Mount Allison. My classes were exceptional, I had some incredible professors, my schedule was perfect, and living off-campus is just getting better and better. It’s incredible to think that my third year of university is done. I’m 22 and I’ve been out of high school for four years. Pretty crazy.

Once classes were done, I had a week off before I started a two-week intensive Spring Semester course. The course was called Molecular Analyses and it was essentially a crash course in lab techniques required for molecular biology. We learned how to do things like clone a gene, extract protein, RNA, and DNA from cells, and run Western blots and immunoblots. I was not looking forward to the class after a week of lying in the sun reading books and drinking beer, but I was sold after the first day. The course was designed so that we’d have a full day (9:00 – 4:00) to do whatever we’d been assigned. When compared to the normal three-hour labs that science classes at Mount Allison have, this was absolutely glorious. The full day allowed us to be careful, work at a pace that suited us, and really focus on learning. All of that combined with a fantastic professor made it one of the best classes I’ve taken at Mount Allison. The course was only two-weeks long and now that it’s done, I’ve got two big lab reports to write. It’s been a while since I’ve written a lab report for anything other than a biology class so it’s taking me a while to get into the swing of things.

A friend of mine has taken off for a week and a half to Cuba, and so my roommate and I have been left to dog-sit. Isabella (or Izzy for short) is a mix of a border collie and something else, and she’s a beautiful, energetic, slightly out of control dog. One of my other roommates is allergic to dogs and so we’ve had to leave her here at her own house a few doors down from us, and we’ve been coming over to spend time with her here and take her out. I’ve been doing research for one of my lab reports all day and so I’ve been hanging out with Izzy at her house. As I write this, she’s fast asleep under my chair. She’s given me an excuse to start waking up early in the morning to take her out and one of these days I’ll take her for a run. It’s really nice to have an animal to spend time with. Having a pet is one of the things I miss most about being home.

Plans for the rest of the summer are starting to shape up. I’ll be starting honours research on Tuesday. We’ll be here in Sackville for about a month getting all set up to go – planning our research down to the most minute details and working out all the protocols – and then on the 20th of June we head down to Maine for six weeks. We’re going to working at a place near Bar Harbour called the Mount Desert Island Biological Lab. Friends who went there with our professor last year said that their summer there was the best they’d ever had. I’m incredibly excited to be going.

I’ll write in with another update soon, but for now it’s time to take Izzy out again.

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