Apologies are in order for my three-month-long neglect of this blog, if you are/were a dedicated subscriber. If you weren’t, then I guess it’s a fresh start for both of us. I really didn’t have much to blog about these last few months, and didn’t really feel like boring everyone with trifling updates of my currently boring-ass life. But I’ve recently found my drive to blog again, so let’s just pick up where we left off: recanting stories laced with self-deprecating humor.
For the past 12 weeks or so, I’ve been busy figuring out where I’m going to spend the next five years of my life in grad school. I’ve been on the road on grad school interviews, which were a whirlwind endeavour that had me travelling 12,000 miles, visiting 5 universities, going on 27 one-on-one half-hour interviews with faculty, listening to 15 hours of presentations, watching my language at 4 dinners at a professor’s house, and imbibing at 8 “social events” complete with copious amounts of alcohol. I felt like George Clooney in that plane movie. It was quite a grueling experience, but less so since all of it was paid for by the schools.
I visited, in chronological order: UChicago, UCLA, Northwestern, UNC, and of course UCSB, evaluating each school’s Biology Ph.D program. The first interview at UChicago was a harrowing experience, but other than that disaster, the schools did their best to recruit as much as interview, making sure we were comfortable our entire time there. I was put up in the nicest hotels in town (save for one school, cough,) taken out to great restaurants, and basically given all the alcohol I could drink without ruining my chances at admission (it’s happened to other people before, I’ve heard stories.)
To tell you the truth, most of the interviews with professors were 30-minute drone-fests, 5 minutes spent talking about their research, 5 minutes on my research, 5 minutes on the program, and the other 15 minutes blathering on and on about the weather, Santa Barbara, or a combination of the two to fill time.
The worst moment of the interviews? One meeting with a certain female professor from UChicago who said to me, and I quote, “If you haven’t read my papers, I’m not going to waste my time with you.” Seriously. It was something out of a movie. She questioned my intelligence and motives for pursuing a Ph.D, and quizzed me on the recent Nobel Prize winners in Medicine (I showed that bitch and got them right!) I was finally pulled out of that interview after 20 minutes, half of which were filled with awkward silences. I don’t know how that school recruits students for their program with that kind of attitude, but needless to say I won’t be attending.
The best moment? At a UCLA-sponsored trip to the Sunset Strip, where I convinced a fellow applicant to buy roses for three cougars at the bar from the famous ¿Rosas? lady. I didn’t see that guy until the next morning after he left the bar with those three very lovely ladies. Or maybe the best moment was wandering inebriated down an unseasonably snowy Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. Stops along the route included He’s Not Here, a bar I last visited when I was eight years old, and then into Time-Out, a 24-hour soul food hole-in-the-wall where I gorged to my heart’s content on fried chicken in a biscuit and fried okra. I was in North Carolina for three days and 33% of my meals consisted of fried chicken and sweet tea. So good.
The most awkward moment? Hands down, it was at dinner at a UChicago professor’s house. There were five professors versus five of us applicants, and each one of the professors had quite a bit to drink. The scheduled two-hour dinner lasted four and a half, and the conversation went off along ridiculous tangents, somehow ending up with me being labeled a sex addict who frequents strip clubs (which is completely false, I should mention.) It’s a good thing I won’t see them again.
Now that the interviews are all said and done, and nearly all the decisions have been sent out, I’ve got a choice to make between the above schools, other than UChicago, who made the decision easy for me. I’ll have to take a careful, hard look at each of the schools to make the most educated choice I can…or I can just judge by the net worth of the free crap I got from each school. Either way, I have until April 15 which is when they start to rescind offers. I’ll let you know soon. Stay tuned for new posts, because frankly, I have nothing better to do with my time.