It’s been five challenging, exciting, and freakishly hot weeks here in Misasa. This past week, we set up our Strontium and Rubidium filaments for TIMS analysis and settled in to start sifting through all of our data. Spreadsheet after spreadsheet, we’ve been gradually chipping away at the questions we have about our samples, trying to piece together a story that explains their characteristics. This can be vastly more daunting for some samples than others (looking at you, MC-03). However, by combining our geochemical data with textural interpretations and previous scientific literature, we get closer to our goal.
The program as a whole has been absolutely incredible. The institute’s capabilities blew me away during the tour. Our supervisors have all been wonderful, helpful, kind, and patient, and I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done. These are some of the most dedicated people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with.
I’d like to dedicate some of this blog post (okay, most of it) to detailing my experiences here. For context, this is my first time outside the United States, and I’m 6’4” tall (193 cm) in a country where the average male height is 5’7” (172 cm). Fun fact, I’ve hit my head 15 times since I’ve been here (yes, I counted).
I tried to study a little bit of Japanese before I came here. It was just enough to introduce myself and semi-consistently order food. Since then I’ve learned how to read a handful of words, like “Misasa,” “Tottori Prefecture,” and “Kurayoshi Station.” I’ve also been able to ask and answer some questions in Japanese. While I was on the way to the Curie Festival in town, a little boy asked me where I was from, and I was surprised at how quickly I could answer him.
Misasa is a beautiful little town, and the people here have been very welcoming. On one of the first nights here, a few of us went to a small, family-owned restaurant for dinner. When we had finished eating, we ended up having a delightfully clumsy conversation with the family and some of the patrons. The memory of that evening is definitely going to stick with me.
On another evening, a group of us went to a festival in Yurihama at Lake Togo. There was an abundance of food, people, and fireworks that night, and the weather was beautiful. Aisha took a great picture of me that is now posted on the “Participants” page.
The whole group went to Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara on a long weekend, but if I try to summarize that trip, I’ll be here all night… and I still need to eat dinner! Perhaps the most memorable part (for better or worse) is when we missed our bus back from Osaka and had to take the next one two hours later, and we finally made it back to Misasa at about 7 a.m., with work starting at 9:30. It’s one of those stories that we’ll be able to tell years from now.