Monday, March 7, 2011

The Graduate School Interview Experience & Future Plans

Today marks the end of my interview circuit for graduate school. In case you haven’t been kept up to date, which is likely since I am pretty secretive, I’ll tell you my plans for the future. Sounds glorious, right?
I’ve interviewed at and been accepted to the following graduate schools for doctoral programs in neuroscience:
University of Pittsburgh – Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh
University of Chicago – Biological Sciences Division: Committee on Neurobiology
University of Miami - Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine
Tulane University (Louisiana Board of Regents Fellowship finalist)
University of Iowa – Carver College of Medicine
University of Minnesota - Graduate Program in Neuroscience

I’m thrilled to have been accepted at so many fantastic programs. I have until April 15th to decide where to attend.
The interview process has been a pretty interesting life style (January-March 2011), so I want to tell you of my experiences. Interviewing has been…well, I now understand what it means to be “wined and dined.”Though interviewing can be stressful, and only attending my own school three or four days per week is insane, it is glamorous getting flown all over the country, put up in really nice hotels, and having all expenses covered.
Here some of the fun features of my travels:
1. Picnicked on the Atlantic Coast in February at Key Biscayne, Florida – Palm trees!
2. Seen the Mississippi River – New Orleans into the gulf, and Minneapolis/St. Paul near the headwaters.
3. Attended the beginning of Mardi Gras in New Orleans
4. Dined at Emeril’s Delmonico in New Orleans and ate Gumbo (Emeril from the food network)
5. Toured Pittsburgh on Molly’s Trolleys and rode an incline up a mountain
6. Viewed Marc Chagall’s America Windows at the Art Institute of Chicago
7. Sun bathed and swam in Miami’s sunny February weather (82F)
8. Ate at the Cheesecake Factory in Coconut Grove with Marissa
9. Observed the jazz funeral of Poppa Neutrino on the banks of the Mississippi River
10. Chomped on the best pizza ever – obviously deep dish at Lou Malnati’s in Chicago
11. Flown on a nearly private express jet to Cedar Rapids (6 passengers)
12. Watched the sun rise over Navy Pier
13. Racked up some serious frequent flier miles

I’ve realized that other than walking, flying is my most common form of transportation – biweekly. I’ve grown accustomed to hanging out at airports (mostly Boston Logan Intl.), and living in fancy hotels for half of each week. I don’t actually unpack my suitcase between interviews. I just hang up the interview clothes to avoid wrinkles and toss in some clean socks. There’s a stack of old boarding passes on my desk.
As my interview season comes to a close, I’ve reflected on a few things.I’m really glad I chose to apply to graduate school instead of medical school. Besides being the right path in life for me, med students have to pay for their own interviews/flights/hotels/food. Sucks for them, right? But seriously, I’ve enjoyed visiting several excellent neuroscience programs and appreciate their welcoming, friendly hospitality.

I have applied for two different things: doctoral programs in neuroscience and a one-year job through Boston University in Madrid.
So…I got the job in Madrid! I’m going to live in MADRID until July 2012, and I’m incredibly excited. I’m going back! You’re welcome to visit me.

So here’s THE FINALIZED PLAN: Defer graduate school for one year, work that year in Madrid, then return to the US and go to school and get a Ph.D. in neuroscience.
Everything is working out as I intended. I’ve worked hard over the past years, and I’m happy that everything is coming together. My life is pretty freaking awesome. I’m feelin' good and very satisfied with how my life is going. I have a ton of great options and I’m half-heartedly fighting off senioritis. Don’t judge – half heartedly means I haven’t completely succumbed yet.
Next year: Look for exciting blog updates about my travels. I’m considering Sevilla, Vienna, Athens, Marrakesh, London, Istanbul, Dublin, Stockholm, Brussels, etc. If you chose to give me a graduation gift, (You don’t have to!) I would love some help financing these exciting trips.

Check out my photos from the interview weekends in my album on facebook:


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Okay, so apparently the "clock" on this is off, because it says I posted March 8 at 7:07 a.m., when it is actually March 8 at 12:07 a.m. - so the computer is 7 hours "fast". Meaning you posted at 9:09 p.m. on Monday, right?

  3. Thanks so much! I probably posted this at 9 pm, but considering that I don't sleep very much, it's possible that it was 4 am. Unlikely, but definitely possible. :)

  4. It might have been 4 am in Spain. The blog was originally intended for my semester abroad in Madrid last year, so that might be how the clock is set.