Trials in Microbiology Part 1

I wish I could say that I was excited for Microbiology and that having been to the first couple weeks of classes and labs that I feel determined and excited for the rest of the quarter, but I’d be lying. What I’ve actually been feeling are lots of worries, frustrations and anger. This class is going to be taught by a new professor, which could mean that it’ll be somewhat easier as the professor gets accustomed to the school, or it’ll be a living nightmare… I really didn’t want to find out either…

My first class day started with me waking up after a horrible night’s rest of tossing and turning. A cup of coffee, taking my little corgi out to do the chores and some cereal later, I was feeling pretty good. Pretty soon I was answering a few work emails and getting some stuff out of the way before I headed out to class. As I’m getting ready to leave, I realize that I cannot find my keys! Frantic, I tore the apart my house and bags looking for those stupid keys! Fifteen minutes later I found them…under my sister’s cat. :/

As I finally got on the road I had a very small window between being late and being on time. I just had to pray that I wouldn’t hit any traffic. Lucky for me, I didn’t. However, as I got to the college at exactly three minutes before my class, I realized that having not been at the college except for a few night classes for the past few quarters, I completely forgot that it is impossible to find a parking spot in the daytime. I drove for blocks, up and down streets, through parking lots, looking anywhere for a spot that wasn’t in a bad part of town to park my car. Fifteen minutes later and exactly twelve minutes late for class, I found a small parking spot on a far edge street. I parallel parked, ran across the streets, across the campus, up a flight of stairs and quietly snuck into the classroom.

I came in just as the professor stopped talking about the expectations of the class and about the syllabus. Great, luckily I printed off the handout earlier this morning so I only missed whatever she said that wasn’t on the handout. Later as I was reading the syllabus, I found that it is confusing and not nearly as clear as it could be.

I was tired, cranky and very upset at being late on my first day. But there was nothing that could be done!

Then the professor started an overview on Microbiology. I was so confused! She skimmed through, what I think was to be, the entire quarter of Microbiology! Terminology I didn’t know, all these names and years of people in the field, I have no clue if we’re being tested on that or if it was part of her “introduction” to the class. What I do know, is that I wrote everything down anyways and I couldn’t even get down everything because she zoomed through so quickly! (She ended up ending class almost twenty minutes early!)

Then I had to go to my first Microbiology lab. This was not really my cup of tea…I usually love labs, but not this one.

First, we were assigned groups, lab coats, and head crushing goggles, etc. Once all the details were out of the way she went over her expectations (still not clear, and gets contradicted if you ask a question on them), then over how to use a microscope (thankfully I knew how to use all but the 100X oil immersion magnification from Anatomy and Physiology!) and then she had us start on the lab assignment. It was relatively easy, basically getting familiar with the microscope, reading some of the text book and then fiddling with some slides and oil immersion magnification.

I. HATE. OIL. IMMERSION. MAGNIFICATION.

So get this, I just learned how to use 100X oil immersion magnification on my first day of lab. It should be super easy! You take a slide and starting on the lowest magnification you focus it. Then you work your way up until you get to 40X magnification and it’s focused. Then before you switch to 100X (for oil immersion only) you add one drop of oil, and carefully slide into the 100X magnification making sure to make contact with the lens and oil. You should only need to focus it a little to make it clear.

I tried and retried that stupid 100X oil immersion magnification for over an hour and a half and I still couldn’t get it to work. I asked the professor CONSTANTLY and we figured out my microscopes lenses were off. No big deal, I’ll just try a different microscope. I ended up trying three different microscopes and I still couldn’t get my stupid slide into focus on 100X oil immersion magnification…I felt totally useless. How in the world was I going to be able to pass the class if I couldn’t work 100X oil immersion magnification??? Like 80% of the lab is going to be done at 100X magnification!!! Ugh…

Good news is, that by the second lab day, I was able to work 100X oil immersion magnification! In fact, it was something as simple as I was focusing the microscope the wrong way. To focus on magnifications 4X-40X I had to turn the fine focusing knob AWAY from me. However, apparently, for 100X oil immersion magnification you turn the fine focusing knob TOWARDS yourself. Who knew? At least I solved that problem!

As the week drew to a close, all I could think was that this quarter was going to suck. I’m glad I got to understand how to use the 100X oil immersion magnification, but I was already overwhelmed with everything that had happened this week (and the fact that I’ve been stressed out for the past month and a half!) And the professor, though at times she thinks she’s funny, does know her stuff and she says no matter what we can always ask questions and visit her during her office hours. She is kind and understands that not all people learn the same way. But she is super unorganized in her information. Her expectations are neither clear, nor are they easy to understand and the worst part is no one knows what the homework is, what questions she wants answered or how the work/quizzes/tests work. Unfortunately… by week two I know how the quizzes work and everything seems to go wrong…

Only time will tell how this quarter goes…. Wish me luck!

Makayla

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