This week, several of the supervisors were out for summer academy, so a lot of the interns were on their own. It was a little stressful at first, realizing that I had to make decisions by myself that could potentially alter the fate of the cells, but it wasn’t actually that different from what I did normally. One big disappointment that was discovered was that an entire passage of cells that we have been working with were shipped to us already contaminated. Unfortunately with how easily the mycoplasmas that were found can spread, this likely means that all our cells are contaminated, so we will probably end up throwing away several of the dishes that we have spent so long differentiating and keeping alive. We might be able to salvage a few important dishes by using a stronger, very expensive antibiotic mix, which would be ideal because we wouldn’t have to start all our work over, but sadly, this could still be the case. I only have three weeks left, so I don’t know what starting over would mean for the fate of my project, but hopefully we can figure out something. This is just one thing about working in the field of Biology, it can be fickle and unreliable and take a long time to get good results.In the meantime, I spent the weekend in Rome and had a blast! I actually ended up travelling by myself because the two friends I was supposed to be with took a later bus than I to Munich (where we were to fly out of), and the bus was late and they missed the flight! It was a bummer for them, but they could have planned better. One thing that you have to know about taking buses for travel is that while they are usually the cheapest option, they tend to run later and later as the day goes on, so in the afternoon, they are often up to an hour late. I had planned for my bus to get me to Munich with three and a half hours until my flight was supposed to leave, and then I had to take a 40 minute train to get to the airport, so when my bus was a hour late, I still got to the airport with nearly two hours before my flight was supposed to leave.
Anyways, although I was alone, Rome is such an amazing city that it was difficult not to enjoy myself. It was eye opening just being in a place with so much history, and beautiful art, architecture, and ruins to bring it all to life. I consumed more Italian food than my stomach could handle, stopping for gelato multiple times a day and eating pasta and pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On Sunday, I did a segway tour of the city, and it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. For one, I have never been on a segway, but also, just hearing the back story of all the buildings and learning how old everything was made the trip all the more worth while.
One thing that I would like to mention, if you are planning on travelling to Rome, is that I would not recommend being by yourself, especially if you are female. Despite how much I loved Rome, I consider myself lucky that I was able to come back without any major incidents. After the sun went down, out came all the homeless and poor, and, in particular, an intimidating number of drunk men that would congregate in the street, usually in small groups, and just heckle people (mostly women) as they walked by. I walked to my hotel the first night from the train station, but after that, I always made sure to take a cab home because I knew there was a significant danger of being mugged and losing everything – all my money, my credit card, and passport in particular – and then not being able to get back to Germany. But anyways, I made it back safely, and have lots of pictures to share!