Updates: School, Social Media, and Upcoming Reviews

First off, I am grateful for the outpouring of support from those of you who regularly interact with me on social media and have reached out to check in during my absence. It’s heartwarming to know that so many people care about my well-being and took the time to read my previous blog post. Taking a break from social media has given me a lot more time to stay on top of my emails, and I’m thrilled to be receiving so many about books to review on the blog. In the past week, I’ve received more emails about new and forthcoming books to review than I have in the past several months! This is exciting and I’m immensely looking forward to getting plenty of new content on the blog. Keep an eye out for those reviews – I’m working on one now for Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics.

One of the reasons that Read More Science has been relatively stagnant for the past six months is because starting university has consumed a substantial amount of my time. When I was just working at an independent bookstore, I had a lot more time on my hands to read and review books. Now, as a working student, it’s much more difficult to fit that into my schedule, but I am prioritizing it thanks to some changes in my schedule.

A surprising positive to quarantine during this coronavirus pandemic is the flexibility of working from home. My position at the marine microbiology lab has changed from washing flasks and beakers to working remotely on a lesson plan about ocean science for K-12 students, because we are no longer allowed to go into the lab on campus. This is a great science communication project and a way for me to learn about science education. In addition to that, I’m taking a workshop in Linux/Unix and command-line in order to learn a bit about data analysis and bioinformatics, which will help with my venture into microbiome research.

Aside from work, the classes I am taking this term are already captivating and exciting. One of my upper level classes is environmental writing, which is part of the Science, Technical, and Professional Communication Certificate here at Oregon State. Another is a history of science course, which focuses on the twentieth century and is taught by a professor in the History and Philosophy of Science graduate program here at Oregon State (which I am immensely interested in). Lastly, I am still working through precalculus, which is the last piece of math I need before venturing into chemistry and biology and calculus this coming academic year.

If you’re familiar with my academic background from my previous writing, you may know that I come from a very poor math and science education and was afraid to take those STEM classes when I first started college. But when I changed my major from English to Microbiology and transferred into Oregon State this past fall, my intention was to immerse myself in general sciences and work my way up into the microbiology coursework I am so interested in. The wrench in my plan was the discovery I am much farther behind in math than my adviser and I first realized. I essentially started with high-school level mathematics in the fall term and have been working my way through the prerequisites for those general chemistry and biology and calculus courses I need to take next.

During my absence from social media, I am immersing myself in my studies and preparing to have what I hope will be a productive and pleasurable spring term, despite the strangeness of doing school and work remotely. I am actually surprised by how much I am enjoying working from home. I think there may be positive sides to this quarantine situation that I was not expecting.

One of the downsides of mandatory self isolation is that my fiancé and I have had to postpone our wedding, which was set for the end of May. I had announced on social media that I plan to change my name and will be writing as Sarah Olson Michel after our marriage is official, but now we are unsure when the wedding will actually take place. Therefore I am delaying the launch of my new personal website, which I’ve spent the past few months working on, until we’re actually married and that name change is official. I also wrote about feminism, changing one’s name, and my own path to making that decision if you’re interested in reading about it.

Lastly, I’ve gotten some questions about whether I intend to return to Twitter after my social media absence. The answer is absolutely. I am trying to break the habit of depending on my phone and spending too much time on social media, and also focusing on school and work. But I very much miss those lovely interactions with people I regularly chatted with via Twitter, and it does feel strange to be left out of the loop of what’s going on. I check the news every day, but limit it so as not to be overwhelmed.

The past five days off social media have lightened my heart. I am already starting to feel refreshed and invigorated, reminded of my goals and intentions, and hopeful for the future. Times are strange. We must all work together to have hope, be positive, and push for change. And remember, if you’re starting to feel anxious or overwhelmed, books can be a source of solace.

Onward and upward!

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