Monday, February 21, 2005

... but it's a DRY heat!

Yeah, that was the pseudo-running joke in Tucson. Well, I'm back and here's the final rundown. I didn't get a chance to keep blogging because, well, they kept me REALLY busy while I was there. After my last post, I went to this BBQ with the grad students where I met a bunch of people and generally just tried to stay awake. We had hamburgers, cheeseburgers, salad, and brauts. This will be the running theme for the rest of the trip. The next day, my kind hosts drove me to the recruitment event which was basically two and a half hours of powerpoint slides detailing the research in the department. I didn't fall asleep (I think that would've been a BAD impression to make) but it was a little touch-and-go for awhile there. There were twelve recruits all weekend, btw, and only two were men. After the presentation, went for lunch at a little Thai place. Not bad but doesn't compare to Taste of Thai. Also, this would be a good time to point out that the weather in Tucson was STILL gorgeous. Then it was my first round of interviews -- exhausting scheduling where I had twenty five minutes of interviews with professors on the recruiting committee or those in the department who picked to talk to me from my application, followed by a five minute sprint to the next office. The UofA physiology building(s) are confusing as hell. They're all interconnected but because of PETA, you can't get directly from one building to another. For example, going to see one prof, I was very very late. I circled the building, finding no actual entrances to it. I was told I had to go into an adjacent building, go up to the fourth floor and walk over into the building I was trying to get to. Did that, and went down a floor to get to the room I was supposed to go to, only to discover that the stairwell locks from the outside, so I was trapped in the stairwell, and forced to go back down to the ground floor, exit the stairwell, go back into the adjacent building, go back into the building through the hallways, and then actually take the elevator down a floor. All of that because the PETA people get mad that they do experiments on monkeys on that floor. Not even lethal experiments; experiments where they show monkeys flowers and see what happens to their emotional reactions. I'm an animal lover, but come on, trashing a building and forcing ridiculous security because the monkeys are being shown pretty pictures? Anyways, most of the profs I met with were very nice and we had lots to talk about. Only three in the whole weekend were awkward and weird, or asked me somewhat tough questions. Still, I feel a little antsy -- I don't want to jinx the whole thing by saying it all went well when I really don't know if it did. After the crazy seven straight interviews (so, I did have a short break scheduled between two interviews, but I spent that time walking back to one of the buildings, so I didn't get a chance to really rest, and yes, that's four hours, people) we managed to go home for just long enough for me to get on the computer for some drama, get changed, and go to a bar-type place called Fox and the Hound. This was a fun time to be had, but I was a little drained from the afternoon that I wasn't really into the schmoozing with the physiology students and recruits (no faculty at this event). However, I DID have the BEST Buffalo wings I have EVER tasted. They were crunchy on the outside, brushed with a wonderful honey-flavoured sauce, just a little tangy and spicy and overall delectable. Damn, I'm getting hungry just thinking about them. So I got home and crashed. In the middle of the night, AB from YW called and we talked for a bit on the phone. First time we had phone-chatted but it was cool -- I was just too sleepy to be really coherent. Following day, went to this huge poster session for all the Life Sciences. I really wanted to swing through the Entomology section to talk to some people for Bryan, but didn't get a chance to. Overall, it was a disorganized event with great potential. We walked back to the physiology department area where again the weather was GORGEOUS (that breezy temperature where the sun's out and you need a light jacket?) We had pizza -- and it turns out that Tucson Papa John's is just as good as Ithaca Papa John's and some brilliant mind happened to order my favourite combination, pepperoni and mushroom. Then, it was time for my next round of interviews -- five scheduled throughout the afternoon. (By comparison, most of the other people had three). I did those, and only one of the interviews was awkward (I hate people asking about my GPA). After that, I was picked up and taken home where I got a chance to nap for a few minutes (even though I didn't fall asleep, it really helped that I could close my eyes). Then, got ready for El Parador, this semi-nice Tex-Mex place. This event called for schmoozing with faculty, but I parked myself at a table and chatted with a few nice profs and students throughout the night -- actually didn't end up moving from that one spot though my conversation partners kept rotating. It was funny. I met two profs who remember a prof at Cornell who taught BIOAP319 with Dr. Lorr -- Dr. Klaus Beyenbach. Turns out Dr. Beyenbach, who is a sweet semi-old professor in the physiology department and who specializes on epithelial transport, did his post-doc at the UofA. Despite the fact that he's now your tweed-wearing, bow-tie sporting academic type, he was, apparently, back in the day something of a rowdy youth, making beer with a guy I interviewed with and apparently coming to the US because he 'failed' out of the German academic system. After drinking a few weak margueritas at el Parador, some of the students went to a karoake bar called Yuki's. This was not your Japanese karaoke bar, but the white frat variety. No private rooms, it's basically a cheap-ish Japanese restuarant with a karaoke machine and lots of extremely-drunk white chauvinistic pigs hitting on even-more-drunk white sluts. There were very few if any people of colour to be seen. Which is alright, because I learned to do a sake bomb. Four sake bombs and a large bottle of Asahi beer later, I was slightly wasted, but I hope I was for the most part coherent. It didn't matter though because I wasn't being graded on anything anymore, and there weren't faculty there. Speaking of which, the way the recruitment weekend works, all the members of the department including faculty, staff and students have the ability to write to the admissions committee detailing their impressions on a recruit. So anyone I talked to had the ability to affect my admissions. But, I felt that it didn't make sense to fixate on that and try to constantly make a good impression -- at some point they have to let you in for who you are. And after all the interviews were done, I really just let my hair down and had a good time with the free food and alcohol. I didn't sing any karaoke, but just enjoying the buzz. Bought my host a drink to thank her for hosting me; which reminds me -- why would a recruit NOT thank their host? My host told me that recruits rarely if ever express appreciation for hosting, and that it was unusual for me to buy her a drink. I was like ... wtf? This person just let me into her apartment for three nights not knowing me from Jane, and I'm just supposed to think it's all par for the course? Future reference, future prospective grad students, THANK YOUR HOSTS. After I got home (somehow... don't fully remember the ride back), I passed out in bed. The next morning was packing and Sabino Canyon which is basically a big canyon in the mountains an hour outside of Tucson. It had cacti and stuff and was great. We had the leftover hamburgers, cheeseburgers, brauts, and salad from the BBQ. The weather, again, was gorgeous even though it rained. Back to the airport where I bought electroman some souvenirs -- a bag full of semi-precious rocks (he was into geology as a kid) and a small cactus plant. :) Now I'm back. Saw Constantine yesterday, baked a cake for a lab b-day party, and generally wishing I could sleep for a million and one years.


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