Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Haiku About My Life

caffeine to wake up
school school school school food school school
yay melatonin

Thursday, April 23, 2015

30 Days

This post will be updated...maybe not every day, but it will be updated. 

08/Apr/2015 | 30 days left

Remember when there were 880 days (or so) left until Graduation? I do, because that's about when I added the countdown. Shane kept asking me the days until the end of Sophomore year and until graduation, so the countdown was born. Now it's 30.

Today I signed up for my Senior Design final presentation. E-Days starts tomorrow. There's too much stuff that needs to get done, all within 30 days, most way less than that. My goal is to not die.

Excitement level: minimal. I'm trying to minimize the objective function that is my emotions right now. Bleh.

17/Apr/2015 | 21 Days left
This week was definitely the most stressful week of the semester. So many things piling on...
One bright spot was our annual Department Banquet on Thursday. Having attended Banquet the past four years (since I was a sophomore), it felt surreal to be one of the Seniors giving gifts to the professors.

But the adventure started after the Banquet.

The banquet was held on top of Lookout and I was helping out Austin, SSG prez, with stuff. The roads were fine going up. The snow had picked up a lot during the banquet. We were the last to leave, naturally. We were going to follow a car with Dawn and Dave and go down the I-70 way.  But on the first turn, Austin's Jeep gets stuck in the snow

Dawn and Dave don't see us lag behind and keep driving onwards, leaving us for dead! So Austin is like, ok, I'll back up until I can find a less steep gradient/get traction (he has rear wheel drive). He slides onto the incoming traffic lane until we are dangerously close to the left edge of the road--there is no guardrail and our death (well, not quite our death) would meet us mere inches away.

His phone is dead. I'm at 9%. Service is spotty. 

I call the Treasurer. No answer.

I call the VP. No answer.

Then I call Rosie because I know she has all-wheel-drive. In the meantime, we use my remaining phone battery to call AAA. They say they'll send a tow truck within the hour.

While waiting for Rosie, three cars drive by and ignore us. A plow asks how we are. Thanks, plow guy. 

Anyway Rosie and Stefan take me down the mountain, and so I charge my phone. Rosie gave her charger cord to Austin, so I could call him. The tow truck company calls and says he's about to head up Lookout, so should be there soon. I say great, and call Austin and say it'll be about 30min. About 35 min later, Austin callls me.

"Uhh, so I know I keep saying this, but there's been an interesting development. A car just stopped by and said that they saw a tow truck that had just slid and crashed off the side of the road."

He calls AAA again, and sure enough, that was supposed to be the truck to pick him up. At this point, I'm extremely tired but laughing because this is too ridiculous. So Austin calls for a ride and gets off the mountain at like 1AM finally. What a crazy night. And of course, it was stuck in the snow when we went up the mountain to get it the next day. So we had to dig it out before some people came and helped push the car out of the snow. 

All this plus a normal week's workload of insanity.

24/Apr/2015 | 14 Days left
Lying on the floor, I didn't know what to do. My slice of greasy pizza lay next to me face-down, making the ground slippery for the next person to fall down the stairs, and my phone got thrown across the stairwell. Should I cry?

Almost anything had seemed to make me cry this past month, my stressed emotions like a stressed fault, ready to slip. But I didn't feel like crying now, oddly enough. So I moaned instead, and writhed on the floor for a little while because the cold tile felt good on my swelling ankle.

A sophomore walked into the stairwell.

"Are you okay?"

"Um...I don't know. Sorry, let me get my pizza out of the way for you."

"Uh, should I call for help?"

"Some ice would be nice."

My poor pizza. I had only taken a couple bites out of it. I was late to lab because I had to stand in line for it. At least it was free.

Someone who knew first aid came and helped me get to lab. She asked how many stairs I fell down. I didn't know. Two, maybe? How did this happen? I don't know.

She got me ice and the sophomore threw my pizza away, since it was ruined.
That's the real tragedy here.

I hobbled to Higher Grounds a few hours later to drown my pain in coffee and conversation. While I told this story to Antonia, the poetry teacher sympathizes with me and my tragic day.

"You should write a poem about it."

This story will have to do.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How to Find a Grad School #2: What to do before applying

Juniors and underclassmen keep asking me, "When should I apply to grad school?" The short answer is that the deadlines for grad school are around December of senior year. But the real answer is that the process could start at the end of Junior year. So assuming you want to apply to grad school in 9 months, here's my advice for you.

  1. Figure out where you don't want to go / live, as I wrote in #1. 
  2. This might be point 0, but figure out what sort of field you want to go into...kinda important. 
  3. Make a huge list of places from point 2. 
  4. Sign up to take the GRE in the summer (you really don't want to take this during school).
  5. Download the practice test software from ETS to study for the GRE. Study...a little bit. Focus on quant, and especially not running out of time on quant.  Worst case scenario, if you fail the GRE, you could still apply to schools outside the US (you won't fail though, right?). Uh, but take the GRE seriously. It's too expensive to retake, let's be honest. 
  6. As the summer goes on, look at the departments and the research being done. Once settled on a subfield of research, read the prof's websites and look at the papers to see what kind of research they do. Can you imagine doing that sort of research? Good. 
  7. Add potential supervisors to a list. This should be a sort of short list (less than 10?)
  8. Update your CV. 
  9. Begin drafting and sending the Inquiry Email to these professors that you would like to work with. This is a very important part of the whole process! This should ideally happen late August to early October. In November, profs get a lot of these emails because students realize the deadline to apply is in Dec and they need to find a supervisor! (Some schools work differently, but for the most part, it's good to reach out to show interest, inquire about funding, and find out about the research opportunities).
    Here is a good resource on how to do this:
    Post 1
    Post 2
    Make sure your email seems like you are a focused individual. Avoid typos (don't be me). You can attach your CV. Or if that makes you feel weird, you can wait until they reply back and ask for your CV. So it's good that you have that ready. 
  10. Ask people for letters of rec in advance -- give them a heads-up and tell them when the deadline is, because some of them like to procrastinate like us. 
  11. Continue inquiry emails and the stuff that goes along with them. There are a few outcomes. Either they:
    -won't reply (*crickets*...don't feel bad though)
    -will reply saying that they can't take another student
    -will reply saying they might/will be taking a new student
    -will reply asking if you're available to talk on the phone or Skype. You're available, of course.
    There are a few variations, of course...sometimes students are the ones to initiate a Skype meeting, which is cool if the prof is not busy.   
  12. If you get a Skype meeting set up, treat it like an interview: but that you're interviewing them, too. Come prepared to talk about your experiences and prepared with a list of questions you have about research, the school, or application process. Don't ask all your questions during your Skype meeting though. It's good to save a question or two to send a month or so later to show that you're still intersted. Send a follow-up email a day after the meeting. 
  13. If you are still interested, get ready to actually apply to the school. Whoa. 
  14. But not without seeing how many windows per capita the department building has. 
There was only slight sarcasm in this post. It is mostly serious. Actually, all of it was serious except point 14.