I’ve been MIA. Its already April and I’m still playing catch- up on work from February. After spending last semester at research full-time, I was super eager to come back for classes on campus. But instead of spending Sundays in the Reading Room, I’ve spent the past 2 months traveling.
This past fall I spent a significant portion of my time applying to neuroscience PhD programs. The next step in the application process was to visit all of the schools for an in-person interview. Since it can take from 5 to 8 years to finish your PhD, each program wants to make sure that you will be happy in the program and living in the area for such a long period of time.
The night before my very first interview I couldn’t sleep at all. I had spent days researching the neuroscience faculty and reading their papers, terrified they would ask me detailed questions about glial biology that I wouldn’t be able to answer. My trip to Mount Sinai in NYC was nothing like I expected. The first day I was there I did have 5 hour-long interviews, but they were nothing like I expected. I spent the day having interesting conversations about neuroscience instead of being questioned about my knowledge in a formal interview setting. Afterwards, the group of 20 applicants was taken out for a three-course dinner with endless wine. I explored central park, saw Swan Lake at the Lincoln Center, and even competed against other biomedical sciences phd applicants in Escape the Room in midtown.
After my first interview at Mount Sinai in NYC, I had interviews in Seattle, Chicago (multiple times), Los Angeles, and back to NYC again. In Chicago I got to see the Second City improv group perform and visit the Bean in 5 degree temperatures. In LA I spent the afternoon at the Getty, one of the most beautiful art museums I’ve ever been to. In Seattle I visited a “bean to bar” chocolate factory and viewed Mount Rainier from the University of Washington Campus. Although being wined and dined in cities all over the country was an amazing experience, after two months of straight travel I wanted to be back at Hopkins. I missed my friends and the routine of going to class everyday.
Although the University of Chicago may have a library that looks like its straight from Hogwarts and UCLA’s weather can’t be beat, I missed the community at Hopkins. One of my very last interviews was right here in Baltimore. As I was interviewing at Johns Hopkins, I realized I had a tough choice to make. I love this city. I love my lab. I love the academic community that makes Johns Hopkins neuroscience so strong. I feel so lucky that I have the opportunity to stay. At the same time, I think its time for me to explore a new city and force myself to go out and make new connections.
As I’m finally coming to a final decision about which graduate school to attend, the reality of leaving Hopkins is setting in. I’m trying my hardest to slow time down and appreciate the little things I love about this campus.