Wow! Coming to work at BU this summer is exciting. I feel important, like my work is valuable. The funny part is that I have not done anything. I guess I feel this way because the environment is so professional and welcoming. Maybe it's just psychological and because I am working at a university with really expensive equipment and very intelligent faculty members, that I feel the way that I do. I was very nervous the first 4 days, mainly because I did not understand what any of the scientist were doing. I just kind of smile and nodded and ask questions I knew the answers to so that the scientist don't think I am dumb. I felt like a freshman in high school or college, I was intimidated by the intelectual ability of the people who will become my teachers.
On day three (tuesday july 5) I was given four 10 page articles to read. I was sadden by this, because know I had to go home and do homework, but because I wanted to feel confident about the work and be able to maintain a strong conversation with my summer colegues I read. That night I spent three hours reading a research article that was assigned to me by Prof. Reinhard. After reading it for three hours I still had no idea what I read. I highlighted, marked, circled, and made notes. But it still seemed like a foreign language. I gave up and did not read the following articles. Instead I went to bed (a little frustrated because I still had no idea what it was that we were doing). The next day, I questioned my partner on the readings, he had read all articles but was still uncertain about his reading, we both laugh at the foreign text we had read, because we were expected to report to our professor and his students by the end of the week. That night I, again, read the same article, but was only able to understand a little. Once again I skipped the other articles. The next day, I was able to observe a graduate student use an evaporating machine, my mentor Yan was able to answer all 309 questions that I had. He provided me with details on the machines he was operating. More importantly he was able to provide me with details on the project he was working on. After this two hour adventure where Yan was able to evaporate gold, silver and Crome into 1" square chips, the article finally made sense. Upon leaving the lab I immediately hit the articles I had yet to read and was able to comprehend their content. Although not an expert, I felt much more confident in being able to maintain an intelligent conversation regarding the work my professor and his students were doing.
The moral, never give up.