All about school

3 weeks until Christmas! Not that I’m counting or anything. The last few weeks have been crazy busy and we’re in the final stretch of experimental work for our big project before the holidays. I’m loving all of the Christmas decorations and activities (ALL of the Christmas markets, please!), but I’m also super ready for a bit of a rest at home. So excited!

Since my life has been all about school lately, I figured I would finally fulfill Alice’s request for more about this program I’m doing and our classes. Our schedule is unusual–it changes every week, and sometimes we have a class full-time for just a few weeks while others we have a few times a week for the whole semester. Here’s a bit about each of our classes.
Food science and analysis: this class covered chemical reactivity (like browning reactions), microbial activity (good and bad), sensory analysis, and hydrocolloids (gums and thickeners). It was a LOT of information but it turns out that milk proteins are really fascinating.
Food process engineering: heating things up. Cooling them down. Doing both at the same time. Lots of math in this one (it has been a very long time since I thought about integration) and lots of milk again. It reminded me how great it is to solve problems with known answers and put tidy boxes around them.
Sustainability: mostly guest lectures from people doing work in the food sustainability realm. The best part of it was putting real numbers behind the talk about a product or a diet being “sustainable” and making us really define what we mean by the term.
Statistics: how to process your data and make graphs. It’s looking more and more useful as we get into our experimental work…
French: we’re split up into a few groups based on our level of language, and my class is mostly grammar and speaking. It’s a great excuse to watch TV and movies as long as they’re in French 🙂
Food structure: this was one of those short-but-intense classes, where we tried to apply materials science thinking to various food systems and understand the molecular components. I researched ice cream (I was serious about the milk proteins thing) and it made me wonder how I ever managed to turn out a decent batch of it because it’s so complicated.
Junior project: this is our big research project for the semester, where we work with companies to solve active R&D challenges. The partnership aspect is a very cool opportunity, and I’m stoked because I get to work on cookies (the best project, duh). Parts of it are similar to work I’ve done in the past, but it’s amazing to get this totally new perspective on it–lots of research and reading, much less just getting things done in the lab.
We also do a short stint of food formulation in January, and then the semester wraps up! It’s crazy to go over this list again because I really have learned so much in the past few months. It’s certainly overwhelming at times, but then I get way too excited about some subject and realize again that I’m definitely in the right field for me and it’s such an incredible opportunity.
Oh also, the program just got a success story video made about us–pretty cool!

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