Last night was one of my rare depression nights. I feel a bit better, but I’m not completely over it.
I’ve gotten progressively more dissatisfied with my life here, and I find myself counting down the days until I can escape to Bahia. Perhaps the impatience is intensifying since I have so little time left in São Carlos. I’m going to try to wrap things up and leave within the next month… looking at what I have left to do, I honestly don’t even have a month’s worth of work remaining, but the inevitable delays and general inefficiency of Brazilian procedures are sure to drag things out.
My life here feels very flat and one-dimensional, like it’s missing key pieces. And it is – I don’t even do half the activities I did back home; I haven’t developed good friendships here; I’m separated from and out-of-touch with U.S. family and friends. The latter can’t be helped, but I hate the fact that major life things are happening – my brother is graduating high school… I have a new baby cousin named Emily… my mom is changing careers… a whole year passed at Hamilton and some of my good friends graduated – and I can’t be there to share in these things.
And as for the other two problems, I blame myself. I should have made much more of an effort to be social and get involved in activities, but I was too timid, I was still getting settled in, and I was afraid to take on too much and have an insanely busy schedule. And now I’m at the point where it’s not worth it to start any new activities because I’m leaving soon. Also, São Carlos is stuck in that unfortunate middle ground between small town and big city – it’s small enough that it doesn’t have a ton of things to do, but it’s also super-urbanized and dense so there are no parks or big open green spaces or woods to explore. Que bosta.
Regarding the friends bit, I dunno… I get so frustrated with the language barrier at times. Not that I have trouble speaking or understanding Portuguese, but that I can’t communicate in the way I want to. In English, I have no problems making conversation and making friends… here, I keep running out of things to talk about for some reason. I think I must be a very boring person to those who know me in São Carlos.
I feel like I’ve been in suspended animation since I came here. Not that there weren’t some good moments, but as a whole it’s been pretty monotonous and I definitely haven’t enjoyed it as much as I normally enjoy life in general. How depressing… no wonder I can’t wait to leave.
Well, I have learned some important things during my time here. One of them is that I don’t care if I never step foot in a laboratory again. That’s quite a strong statement, I know… it’s not that my experience researching here has been completely horrible, but let’s just say that the frustrating and boring experiences have outweighed the interesting and satisfying ones. Chemistry research is both extremely specialized and extremely solitary, and I need something with more variety and more human contact.
Also, I want to do something… hrm, how to phrase this… something that contributes more directly to making a difference in society and in peoples’ lives. People always get so impressed when I tell them I’m researching marine natural products that fight cancer, but the truth is that my work is an extremely tiny contribution to the advancement of medical science, and unless I’m lucky enough to stumble upon some sort of miracle compound that happens to be the cure for AIDS, I will not see anything of any import whatsoever come of my work during my lifetime. At absolute best, it will be published in something like Journal of Organic Chemistry, a publication that no one reads except organic chemists, then archived away and lost in the annals of time. Again: how depressing.
It’s ok though, because there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve come this far, I know I can survive another month, and I know for a fact that things will be way better in Salvador. And there’s no way for me to return to chemistry in the next year anyway, so I’ll see what other opportunities come along. And, my family will be visiting me at the end of July!! 🙂