Learning to Roll with the Punches

Learning to Roll with the Punches

By Emily Chua

So far, my time in Halifax has been a (somewhat comical) real-life demonstration of Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.  From having my equipment waylaid by customs, to contracting the worst stomach virus I’ve had since childhood, my first two weeks here have been anything but expected.

Let’s start with the shipping drama.  I am developing a novel underwater instrument for dissolved gas measurements in marine sediments, and for my research exchange at Dalhousie University, I planned to conduct lab and field experiments with our prototype.  This meant packing up my entire lab at Boston University (a mere tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment) and shipping everything across the border.  What could possibly go wrong?  On May 23rd, I sent the packages on their merry way.  Two and a half weeks later, they had travelled many miles… and were back in their starting point of Boston, and not at Dalhousie.  Long story short, do not attempt to ship internationally with FedEx ground, or Canada customs will demand thousands in ransom fees taxes.

Within two days of my arrival in Halifax (which is incidentally my hometown), the universe decided to throw me another curveball in the form of a nasty stomach flu.  I pride myself on rarely getting sick, so it wasn’t until I was wracked by full-body shivers and constant trips to the bathroom that I finally admitted that I was a little… off.  The illness lasted nearly a week and I unfortunately missed all of the LOREX orientation activities.

I’m choosing to view these setbacks as small bumps in the road, and not insurmountable mountains.  Things could always be worse – at least I didn’t fall ill in a foreign country, and was able to visit the doctor and obtain medication without issue.  And while waiting for my equipment to arrive, I was able to get started on fabricating the apparatus for my lab experiment (below) and test it out. 

My Ph.D. advisor is arriving today from Boston, bearing my equipment as check-in luggage.  Crossing all my fingers that her journey goes smoothly…

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