Wednesday, April 16, 2008

USA Readers Digest installment numero uno...

I would like to start off this post with a very enthusiastic proclamation of my love for the United States of America. I am sure this warm fuzzy feeling for the homeland will eventually wear off, but at the moment I am relishing it. It is good to be back, even if only for a few days.

So two quick observations about traveling:

1. I really don’t like having to remove my laptop to go through security. I’m not going to lie… usually my carry-on is precariously packed and frankly after taking out my computer sometimes I fear it’s not going to fit back in :)

2. At the Paris airport and the San Francisco airport they have this thing called visual paging now. So instead of announcing flights and other information over the airwaves you have to look at the TV monitors all over the place. This seems like a great idea except if you didn’t realize that the system was new and since you were waiting to hear your flight announced you almost missed it because you didn’t look at the right screen!

So in response to various conversations I have had with people I am going to give a Readers Digest version of my week for those of you avid readers with limited time and then a more detailed accounting of my every move just for the sake of posterity… who knows.

Boston to San Francisco

My flight landed on Friday and I headed to the MIT open house for prospective students. Friday night I stayed with Tamar and Kelly two grad students currently in the program.

On Saturday I grabbed brunch with an perspective student named Lisa and then had an awesome afternoon shopping. I got a SIM card for my phone (a great story in itself) and then basically a new wardrobe by scouring two really great thrift stores in Cambridge. Saturday afternoon I went for a run with Tamar along the Charles and then met up with Robbie and had dinner at John Harvards Pub followed by some great tea infused hot chocolate. We originally had planned on Margaritas but Sara, not remembering that there is actually a drinking age in the US, didn’t bring her ID…so hence the hot chocolate. I think I liked it better anyway ;)

Sunday I met up with friend Sandy for breakfast and then a lovely service at Trinity Church in Boston. After church I walked through Boston commons and decided to pay for the guided tour of the freedom trail. A well spent $10 is you ask me :) BUT man was it cold! I froze… Sunday night I chilled out back at Tamar and Kelly’s place. Kelly made great omelets for dinner.

Monday morning I got up early and went running with Robbie. I ran up to Harvard and then we ran down to MIT along the Charles, again a very nice run. Almost too long though, by the end I was so done. After running and grabbing an excellent bagel for breakfast I headed back to MIT and went to meet with some professors. The meetings lasted like all afternoon and by the time I was done I was exhausted. However, I made plans to stay at a friends place on Monday night so it would be easier to get on the subway in the morning. I had dinner and baked cookies with Margaret and Devan, two of my crew teammates. Devan cooked and it was amazing. I stayed at her house that night :)

Tuesday morning started super early. I got on the subway to get to the train station to get to Providence to take a bus to the airport. Surprisingly the trip went off without a hitch. It took three hours, but I left in enough time that I wasn’t stressed out. The cross country flight was great. I was able to sleep the whole time. I slept really well from Chicago to San Francisco when I was able to lay out across three seats and really crash. In SF, I took a shuttle to Sarah Moore’s apartment, showered and then met Professor Davis and two graduate students for dinner at this great Thai restaurant. By this time I was still pretty awake from all the excitement of a new place, ect. So I went to a lecture on water that Stanford was sponsoring. I stayed for a little over an hour and then headed home and passed out on Sarah’s futon…

Wednesday I had a lovely breakfast with Sarah and then went to start the day of meetings and such that I was scheduled for at Stanford. It was great. I really enjoyed talking with the different professors and I sat in on a class. For lunch I got to eat with a student in the program who shares many of my same interests. We had a great lunch conversation and he has connections in Paris I may be able to tap into when I head there on the 15th. The other big deal is I found out on Wednesday I was selected to interview at Oxford for the Weidenfeld Scholarship. I could not have been happier! Talk about overflowing blessings. In an ideal world, I would get the Oxford scholarship, go there for a year then head out to Stanford. But first I have to go to Oxford at the end of April to interview! Wish me luck :) I really hope this one comes through, it would mean a lot for my future… Wednesday afternoon I spent in the Stanford library taking care of email and other things. It was so nice to be back in a library like that ;) I met my friend Mike for dinner. We oddly enough went to an undergraduate dining hall, but I didn’t mind. I actually welcomed the buffet style eating for one meal.

Thursday morning I went for a run with Sarah before she left for the airport. Sarah was leaving but was totally cool with me still crashing at her place :) After the run I had more meetings and I sat in on Professor Davis’s course. Professor Davis would be my advisor and I really like her style so that is great! I had lunch with another student. We went to a “lunch club” in the environmental engineering building. Each week someone takes turn cooking. It was pretty awesome. In the afternoon I had a great final meeting with Professor Davis, I really look forward to working with her. Then I went and met up with Professor Young who was thesis advisor at Princeton who is at Stanford on sabbatical for a year! It was prefect because we were able to go over the article together we are trying to publish. After my day of meetings I walked around campus and took pictures. I ended up at the art museum which pretty much sealed the deal for me. Talk about amazing! I headed back to Sarah’s from art museum, but unfortunately took the wrong bus and had to switch and wait a while. Anyway, even though I could have walked from the art museum back to Sarah’s about 3 time in the time it took me to get lost on the bus and find my way back, it was quite an adventure and now I know how NOT to use the bus system ;) I had a great talk with Annie when I got back and packed up all my stuff, off to a new destination in the morning!

Friday morning I got up very early, 6:30! and went for a 4 mile run around the campus drive loop encircling the Stanford campus. It was great! I grabbed some breakfast, showered, and met up with another Sara, one of the girls in the program I would work with, who offered to drive me to the airport. It was SO nice of her and made my morning so much less stressful :) Everything about my visit to Stanford was wonderful. I think I would be very happy there. It is quite an inspiring place. Now I may have to wait a year while I pursue my dream of studying at Oxford, but eventually I will be in Stanford…

Well, it is time for me to board my flight. This was, believe it or not, the Reader Digest version. I may or may not give you more details. I depends on how I feel… but at least you have an idea of how my American journeys have progressed.

Much Love,