First, a new school semester means new students! The laboratory received seven new students, including another foreign student, so I am no long the only exchange student, or only one of two girls. Of course, the first week or so was just orientation for them, so I didn't really get to see them much, however the laboratories always have a party to introduce the new senior to the graduate level students. This year, we had it at a motsunabe restaurant. If you don't know what motsu is, it's basically pork organ fat... and while that sounds a little disgusting, it's delicious when in a stew with vegetables. Anyways, all our new students introduced themselves, and the lab (as usual) drank an incredible amount of alcohol...
As far as experiments, we had our first official meeting of the year to display our data in front of the Professors. I still can't say difficult scientific terminology in science Japanese, so my presentation was in English... so only the professors understood. The worse part was that, even though English was okay, I only told them that my cells died twice. It's been extremely frustrating dealing with the cell-line I had been assigned. We had an infection of mycoplasm (microorganisms) in most of the cell-lines used in the lab. To remove the mycoplasma, you must treat them with special antibiotics for 3 weeks. The first time, I did this I noticed the cells were becoming fewer and fewer in number, and I expressed this problem to my lab mates. Two days before the antibiotic treatment was over, another microorganism (some sort of yeast) had taken over the culture and killed the cells. The second time we attempted this same treatment, almost the exact thing happened! My lab members are taking over the culturing for now, just in case I was doing something incorrect, but I find it odd both culture attempts, at the same time during treatment, died of the exact same thing. If it happens a third time, at least they know it wasn't me being a novice cell-mother.
Other than that, April has been a relatively uneventful, though beautiful month. Our weather has been unseasonably cool, but so far this has made the flowers much happier. After the cherry trees were gone, all these wild poppies and azalea bushes started blooming. While I have lived in places where there are plenty of azaleas, I haven't seen them quite as flourishing as I have here in Japan. I took a walk around my neighborhood, just to see them shrubs in bloom. There are so many of them on top of each other, you can actually smell them as you walk down the street.
Until something else interesting happens, I hope these nice photos hold you over. Maybe something exciting will happen in May!