Archive for the ‘My Life’ Category

Job Update

Posted on: June 18/09

I have now been at my new job for 2 months. Compared to my old job at the bank, it’s definitely more relaxing (no crazy long line-up of customers), flexible (no one monitors my start, end, and lunch time), and slack. Yes, slack! Partly because my supervisor was away on the other side of the Earth for a month and partly because the lab technician is so lazy. It’s quite hilarious, actually. I usually arrive at work around 9:30, but we usually don’t get around to starting anything until 10:00. What do we do to fill up time? Why, of course our best friend the internet can help! For me these few weeks that my supervisor was gone, my only immediate tasks were to 1) isolate DNA from blood, 2) “play around” with this new analysis program that we got, and 3) do background reading relevant to my research topic…so as you can see, there is really nothing in pressing urgency for me to do since I have already completed the DNA isolations.

As a side note, let me do a little bit of brief introduction on my research project(s). In a nutshell, it is looking at the genetics of asthmatics, or people with asthma. Basically, there are 2 types of asthmatics: ones who have only an immediate early reaction, and ones who also have another response a few hours later. These are called early and dual responders. The main thing that I will be looking at is to see if there are any correlations in the genes and proteins that may help explain these differences in response patterns. By doing so, we can show that the late response may be due to a differing pathway, to which therapies can target specifically. Another side project is to look at the minor variations in the genes of babies to see if any of these may lead to higher risks of developing asthma. That was why I performed the DNA isolations.

Anyway, back to non-scientific things (I hope I didn’t lose anyone :P). I have many funny stories to tell of the lab tech…too many to list out here in fact, but I’ll share a bit. You see, he is this happy slacker Chinese man who an accent and not great grammar. Not that I am being racially discriminate (I am Chinese too!) but he really adds to the fun(ny) environment of the lab…without realizing it! For instance, he says that starting actual work at 10:00 is “too early” and that when it gets to 4:30 he “gets nervous”…he just wants to go home. Also, he thinks that we shouldn’t do too much work in a day and we should “control our pace” instead. HAHA! Lastly, almost every other words that he says, he accompanies it with these absolutely hilarious hand gestures and sound effects that come naturally to him…I just crack up so often, but he never realizes that I am actually laughing at how funny his character is! 😛

Another highlight about my position as a research student so far is that within my first short month here, I have already had the chance to travel…FREE OF CHARGE!!! The location was Montreal. The purpose? To attend a research conference for trainees. Although it was short (3 days 2 nights), I really thoroughly enjoyed it! I got to meet people from all over the universities of Canada who are also doing allergy research. Of course, I also did a bit of sight-seeing in Montreal. It was a shame that during the day, we had to attend the talks…but I kinda managed to complete my speed sight-seeing of downtown afterwards in 5.5 hours (5:30 – 11:00). My roommate and I walked super fast and we hit up most of the highlights of downtown Montreal, including McGill University, Notre-Dame, and the Old Port. We also managed to take the subway successfully, on our own, to visit the BioDome, where the Olympics took place a while back. Pictures here~

If there was ever a chance to travel to a conference again (for free), I’d definitely want to go! In the meantime, maybe I should pick up some slack and do more background reading instead of going on the internet so much at work! 😛


Another update on my life. From the title of this entry, you can probably guess that it’s finally good news~! 🙂

Addressing each of the options from my last post…they are basically all out the window now.

  • I did manage to find out more about the church in Japan. They are not some weird cult but they are also not a church that my parents would feel 100% comfortable with. It’s too bad, I will not be going there in the end.
  • They are still processing my application for the technical diploma program, so I have no idea of the outcome yet. (Not that it matter anymore…read on)
    I have, however, already volunteered a few times on the bus trips. It’s been very fun and rewarding so far! I strongly encourage people to try it! 😀
  • The pharmaceutical research company did not offer me the lab assistant position in the end. So end of that story.

Let’s move on to what is settled then!
Picking up where we left off…since I did not get hired at the pharmaceutical research company, I naturally continued on with my job hunt. My boyfriend suggested “Hey, why not try to find a summer student position at one of the research labs? Being close to the end of the school year, many labs accept students to work there for the summer.” I thought: Sure, why not. It’s not like I’m making any progress anyway. So I started sending out my CV and cover-letters to PIs (head of the labs). To my surprise, I got back quite a few replies, unlike my responding-to-job-postings technique. Most of them asked for my transcript, but only one agreed to meet up with me.

At that meeting, he introduced and explained to me his research project, which is basically looking at the genetics of people with different types of asthma. It sounded quite interesting to me! He then told me that he originally was not planning on taking a summer student this year, but he wanted to take a graduate student instead. Ideally, he would like a person who plans on doing graduate studies, and they can use the summer months as a “trial period” before starting graduate school in September. At this point, I was not aiming towards graduate school. Although I had considered it previously, I settled on the technical diploma program (as mentioned before) as my direction for further studies. After this conversation with the PI, it really got me thinking.

Within a week of prayer and asking people for advice, I replied back to him with the decision to “take the step towards a Master of Science degree.” (You gotta reply fast, or else take the risk of someone else taking your spot!) He contacted my references and offered me a 4 month summer student position, with an alright salary, starting in mid April! WOW!! Of course, I accepted it without hesitation~ 😀

Looking back, I start to realize God’s hand in all of this. There are so many “if”s that lead to so many “then”s…but none of them point to the direction in which I am headed now. Evidently, God has his plans for me all along.

  • If I had gone to Japan, through any of my previous methods, then it’s hard to say how the timing would work out with my return to Canada and application for further studies.
  • If I had gotten a lab job from sending out my resumes to job postings, then I would have worked until I start the diploma program in January.
  • If I had been offered a “lab assistant” position with the drug research company, then I would not be doing anything relevant to my studies, and would also have worked until I start the diploma program in January.

The list goes on.

But now I am really excited for what God has in store for me. The lab that I will be going to is a pretty new and nice one compared to many other labs. The techniques used are cutting-edge ones, and I feel quite comfortable in the area that is studied: genetics.  Most importantly, my future supervisor is a really friendly kind of guy, even asking me to just call him “Scott”. I think he will make a great supervisor for me, especially when his lab is very small. This means that he does not have many students, so he should be more free to help me out! 😀

Praise God!! He gave me the chance for a higher education!
Now if only I can keep up with it…

Life has been…not exactly grand. Everything is jumbled up and I STILL don’t know what my life is going to look like this year.

So from my last personal blog entry, I have decided to take a step back from Japan and concentrated on looking for lab work over the past few months. Interview rates have been slim: ~1 interview opportunity for every 10 resumes that I’ve sent out. And to add to that, those interviews have not successfully led to a job.

While that’s going on, I get news from a previous contact church in Japan inviting me to go and help out at their church for 3 months. No pay, but they will provide housing. Sounds like an ok deal right? I get my time in Japan and I don’t have to pay for housing. The only reason why I’m not there right now is because my parents need to confirm and reconfirm the trustworthiness of this church…and the Japanese side is not helping much so far with their delayed correspondence. 😦 It’s been almost a month since I last heard from them. I had been so sure that this opportunity was “the open door” from God, but now I am starting to think otherwise.

Over the last couple of weeks, I worked on my application for a technical diploma program starting in January 2010. This program is highly related to what I studied for my Bachelor’s degree, so I am pretty sure that I will get in. BUT!!! Having also been SO sure that I would get into JET last year, I did not have a solid back-up plan…and I am still sadly reaping the consequences now. 😦 Not wanting to repeat history and be left stranded for another year, I added in a back-up choice program. The only concern for this was that the 2nd choice program required 40 hours of volunteer work, which I lacked. So naturally, the next step was to inquire into helping out at the hospital as a volunteer. Good news! They have a position available! It should be a pretty fun one too because it’s going on bus trips with patients every week. I basically get to check out many places which I have never seen before!

But it gets even more complicated than that. On Friday, this pharmaceutical research company (which I sent my resume to back in October!) contacted me for an interview. Companies don’t get more efficient than this, because…On Sunday, I went for the first interview. On Tuesday, I got asked to go for a 2nd interview, which will happen on Thursday. Phew! Talk about speed hiring! Everything happened in only one week! You are probably thinking: “Great! It seems like Sarah is finally getting hired for a lab job!” But this is where you are wrong. Although I applied for a lab job, they decided during the 1st interview that I am not that suitable. They had another position opening: termed a “lab assistant”, but it’s really a lower position job that takes care of a lot of paperwork (inventory, shipping/receiving, and then glassware cleaning -.-“). It’s definitely not my top choice of “lab-related” work, so I am not sure if I should go for it or wait and hope with fingers-crossed that something else better comes up. *sigh*

Choices, choices, choices…and they are all overlapping time-wise. With the bank cutting back my part-time hours, I really need to find something new. I can’t stand to waste this year by working only 2 days a week until December! Oh, what to do?! ><

A little bit of change for the Christmas season! =)

As I have mentioned in my previous entry, my 日本に行くぞ~ series has sadly been discontinued.

Those of you who have followed along my “journey” to go to Japan know that I have been planning this for quite a long time.  But in the end, it had to come to a close. 😦 Let me explain.

From where I left off last time, I had given up hope on JET and instead was looking forward towards OMF. Some preliminary steps have been taken, and my interests were stirred.  So I went on and discussed more with the head quaters about my Christian walk and other issues to help me find a suitable placement in Japan.  All things seemed to be in motion, especially when I heard that they were holding meetings in Japan to find a supporting church for me.

A few weeks passed and it’s already well into September.  No news.  I emailed them back and inquired about the progress and when I may be able to leave for Japan.  This was their reply:

“As regards timing goes, I think I mentioned that time is needed to develop a prayer and financial support team and this often takes a year.”

One Whole Year. Are you kidding me?!?! I had expected to leave before December, because when I met with Phoebe and Pat back in July, they mentioned that it would be ideal for me to be sent over in time to help out with the Christmas rush.  I guess that would work…if I were to help out with Christmas 2009.  *sigh*

So one big miscommunication and my dreams were crushed, once again.  They did suggest alternatives, like doing short-term missions instead of a year long one.  I also considered joining the English conversational schools, and even expressed my interest in becoming a GABA English instructor by submitting a preliminary form (GABA has shorter contract terms than the other schools, which has a 1 year contract).  But all this searching-around-and-hoping-that-something-would-work-out-but-not-really-getting-anywhere was really draining me out.  In the end, I decided to take a step back from it all and did not pursue further with any options.  Perhaps all these doors that keep slamming shut in my face is a sign from God that I shouldn’t be doing this…at least not now.

But I do not and will not give up so easily on Japan! *Fingers crossed* that I can somehow fulfill my new dream of a month (or more! 🙂 ) of traveling all around Japan in the future.  Hm…I wonder how that may work out with school/a job?

It’s been 3 months since the last time I’ve been on here.  I’ve even forgotten my password…

I believe that sometimes, emotional ups and downs are best relieved through writing. And not being the strongest writer myself (when have i ever liked writing for English classes?! NEVER!), perhaps that is what’s bringing out the writer in me today.

Life has not been fantastic these days. In short, I am now:

  • Without a plan to go to Japan (more on this in a later entry)
  • Without a clue what I’m going to do this year
  • Without a solid idea of what I want to study in Sep or Jan

For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m wasting it away. I’m left wondering (seemingly endlessly) What the heck am I gonna do with my life now?! God seems to be saying “no” to a lot of things these days, not that I’m blaming Him. But it really sucks that things I had been so certain of before…now exist as merely past aspirations, something to be accomplished…perhaps never. I really don’t know anything anymore. All I know for sure is God’s promise that never fails:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

All along, I know that God has been gracious enough to me. That while the disappointing reality of not going to Japan was settling in, He has provided for me 2 months of full time shifts working at the bank. That was a true blessing for me to search out my next step. But now those 2 months are coming to an end, and I feel like I am still stuck on the same square on the board game of Life. Sure I’ve sent out numerous resumes and cover letters, but to what effect? I have only heard back from one out of the ~30 that I’ve applied to. I had thought that this one job position was God’s genius plan, a close-by place where I’ve previously worked before. Although only a temporary position, it would be perfect for now! But from today’s interview with them, I’m pretty sure I’ve bombed it. No point at all counting on getting this job. I’ll just end up getting my hopes up again and then be badly disappointed with a speedy crash to rock bottom. From experience, that is the worst feeling, and nope, I won’t have that again if I can prevent it. Hence, my situation now has reverted back to empty waiting. For what? A job? A miracle? I really don’t know…but to wait for God and to continue trusting Him.

Another thing that prompted me to write today was because I had attended my first funeral service. It was for my friend from church, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. I was not super close with him, but he was still a friend nonetheless. Of course, questions come bubbling up like a pot of boiling hot water. Why does this happen to a young man who has such a passion for searching out God? Why him who has a heart for sharing Christ with others? Why him who has only had a girlfriend for about 6 months? Why Andrew? Why?

Nobody but God knows the answers to those questions and so much more that are left unsaid. But one thing is certain, may God be glorified through all this. And He is. I could see His extraordinary healing power at work today, especially through Andrew’s girlfriend, Leanne. Although I do not know her personally, I could see that unmistakable calmness in her that can only come from Christ. Can I even term it “unnatural” or “unhuman-like”? Because it really is unimaginable that someone could be so full of joy in the midst of all the sadness around her. And it is truly genuine joy that radiated from her today, despite of the the loss of her boyfriend, whom I’m sure she has grown close to in their brief time together. It really is incredible to be able to witness such a strong woman of God who stands so firmly in the promises of the Bible that she was able to be smiling instead of shedding tears at the funeral service. As she said so herself: “Andrew is in Heaven with God now, what more can I ask for?” WOW! If it were me, I knew I would be “nonfunctional” as Cynthia puts it, so her statement of utmost peace, joy, and hope totally blew me away.

With my uncertain future that I have mentioned before, I can really learn from Leanne’s faith. True, I do not know what will happen even within the next couple of weeks. True, I am extremely discouraged by the lack of job offers. But I know Who is in control. I know that He has it worked out for me, and for the best too! God will take care of me as He takes care of the little sparrows. 🙂 I pray that He will continue to give me peace like Leanne’s (which I’m sure He already has, or else I’d be very burnt out by now), and that I would come to accept whatever door He has opened for me. Who knows, it could be totally out of my imagination, and probably 10 times more exciting too! I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me!


I had thought that this next post of the 日本に行くぞ~ series would announce my acceptance into JET. But nope, I have given up hope. 😦

Let’s backtrack. A month and a bit ago, I received a letter from the Consulate General of Japan. Mom told me about it on the phone while I was at work, so I was super excited, expecting to be THE letter. I rushed home to open it…the first words that met my eyes: “Invitation to the JET Preparation Seminar”. I scanned through the first page, and the next, and the next, hoping for the good news to pop up any time.

It never came.

The whole letter package was just to inform me of this seminar, a reception , and to promote those courses to help you learn Japanese and how to teach English. The reception was to “celebrate you participation in the JET programme”. OK, that obviously excludes me. And I don’t have much interest in those courses. The Preparation Seminar though, seemed useful. The topics were as follow:

  • Now to Tokyo – What to prepare
  • Your First Month In Japan – What to expect
  • Money and Taxes – self explanatory
  • Culture Shock – How to deal with it
  • Living in Japan Workshop
  • Working in Japan Workshop
  • General Q&A

After checking that Alternate JETs can participate in this, I registered. I figured, even if JET doesn’t accept me, this should still be helpful when I go to Japan. Because i will go, one way or another. 😀

So then a month ago, I went to this Preparation Seminar. It was quite a formal work conference with everyone dressed in very proper business attire. The agenda for the day (9:40-5:00) was laid out for us; it was a rigorous schedule with set break times in between.

After hearing a speech, we played a BINGO ice-breaker game. It was there that I found out there were other Alternate JETS there! In fact, there were about 5 of us out of ~35 people there. I was encouraged when some ex- and current JETs told me that I’ll probably get in. “Just keep waiting! Even start packing your bags!” I was hopeful! …but not quite to the point of actually packing my bags already.

The seminars were more well done than I had expected! The speakers were all animated people, very funny and created a relaxing mood while being informative at the same time. For example, I learned that maple cookies and ketchup chips make good omiyage to bring there. I also learned that instead of signatures, the Japanese people use a stamp, called “inkan”, for everything. And also of course, important things like getting a “gaijin” card (foreigner’s card) and how to obtain an International Drivers Permit.

The 2 workshops were a little different. Instead of speakers presenting to us, we were split up into groups of ~10 to discuss possible sticky situations that may arise. These situations were the worse case scenarios, which hopefully doesn’t happen too often, but I did manage to learn from them. The main message was to make sure things are communicated properly to avoid misunderstandings, and one way to do that was to get everything confirmed in writing. Yep, definitely a good lesson for me.

So if you ever get a chance to attend a JET Preparation Seminar, I strongly suggest that you do! It was beneficial, no doubt!~


Alternate JETs usually get bumped up to short-listed JETs by mid July via a phone call. It’s now 1 week passed that, and I have already given up hoping to be contacted by JET. 😦

Therefore, I have moved onto my 2nd option from long ago: Missions with OMF.

A week ago, I submitted my preliminary form, and have already been contacted by them. In fact, just yesterday, I met up with the Pacific Region Coordinator, Phoebe, and Pat, a missionary who has served in Japan for many years. It was a causal chat, discussing some of my interests in ministry, some of the needs of Japan, and some things I will need to consider and pray hard about. Although I don’ t know what the next step is, or if they will even take me, God is definitely in control and leading me somewhere. Where He shuts one door, He will open another. I’m excited to see what He has planned for me; it probably will be so much better than I can ever imagine! 😀

As of Wednesday, May 21, I have officially become an alumni of the University of British Columbia; more specifically a graduate of the Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Sciences Program!! 😀

My convocation ceremony started at 8:30 am, and we had to be at school at 7:00 to get our gowns and everything ready. Adding on the make-up time and the travel time (usually ~1 hr), resulted in me waking up at 5:00 am! I don’t even remember when was the last time I have woken up THAT early! Daven was my personal chauffeur ^^ (Thanks for getting breakfast ready too~) and because of the lack of traffic, we got to school 20 minutes early! But other people gradually came and we made our way to the Graduate Center to get our gowns.

Lots and lots of people there, approximately 400! We got our black gowns and our sash for our degree. We had to pin the sash on our gowns though with bobby pins. I became an expert at pinning them from underneath (so they were not visible), and did it for at least 5 people. LOL~ Then we lined up according to our degrees and then alphabetically. In my convocation session, which was the very first one this year, we were celebrating the graduation of lawyers and doctors…so my degree was SO insignificant in comparison 😦 Oh well, I guess there was also midwifery which was even smaller 😛 .

We made our way to the Chan’s Center for the ceremony…with LOTS of waiting time outdoors. It was sorta chilly, but I survived. We finally made it in and sat down. Next, the faculty members and professors came in. They wore the most ridiculous gowns ever!!! HAHA. Seriously, some of them could have come straight out of the Robin Hood fairy tale! Anyway, the ceremony started with speeches from a few people, like the President. I was pretty much border-line asleep during those talks =.= Finally, they started calling the graduating class to walk across the stage. Partway through, I REALLY needed to use the washroom BADLY because I didn’t manage to go beforehand! My program was within the last ~30 students to be called up…and let me tell you, that was not fun when your bladder is about to explode ><! When it was my turn, I felt like I speed-walked across the stage…And there goes my 5 seconds of fame in UBC history.

After the ceremony ended, I darted to the washroom straight away! When I came back out, I found myself in a sea of people…without my cellphone, which I had left in the car!! I searched for any familiar faces and thankfully spotted Gloria. Bad news was that she didn’t have a cell either, so we stuck to each other and finally found our parents. And of course, here is where all the snapping of photos take place.

When we were satisfied, we returned our gowns and headed to the BMLSc reception. Hurray for food!! 🙂 We had a time of 1. Faculty presenting recognitions to our class (with Krista getting 3 of the 7 plaques…and me getting none >< ) and 2. Our class presenting gifts to the faculty. Afterwards, we just hung around and chatted and took even more pictures!

So while it was not the most interesting and entertaining ceremonies, it was definitely worth remembering!
Pictures here for memories sake 🙂


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