Liz (stellae) wrote,

The Great Grad School Debate Comes to a Close


I have decided to go to UC Berkeley. Which means that in a startlingly short time, I will live 2500 miles from what I currently consider home, and what feels in many ways, the place at which I have been most myself and most at home all my life. That feels sort of bittersweet and surreal. But I know that I am making the right choice for my career and my future, and I will meet new people and make new friends and come back often to see the old that I miss. Or at least, I am optimistic that this is what will happen.

Perhaps my attachment to NYC comes from the way I moved out here knowing no one, and found a whole group of friends and emotional family. Perhaps it stems from this being the place where I made that oh-so-important transition from childhood to adulthood. Here is where I learned to truly take care of myself, including when to ask other people for help in taking care of me. I have gotten used to short vacations and time spent away from home. I don't expect to see my parents often, and I don't see them often. I don't think of their house as my house anymore -- home is my dorm, and home is in desperate need of cleaning. (That's tomorrow's project).

So: Reasons I Chose Berkeley:

1) It's a Vision Science Program with people who do great work in my areas of interest.
2) They really want me in their program.
3) I get to learn tons and tons about how we see -- and there are lots of perception people. Which is amazingly wonderful because how sight and sight perception work is this amazing thing for me that I am incredibly excited to learn more about.
4) They really want me in their program.
5) The campus is beautiful and is all of 20 minutes from downtown San Francisco. I am still a city girl at heart.
6) Berkeley itself has a nice village-y feel.
7) There is an actual campus. And a football team. So I can wear college paraphenelia and cheer for the Cal Golden Bears and all of that happiness that I missed as an undergrad.
8) Tahoe is 3 hours away.
9) Wine Country is 2 hours away.
10) See reason 9.
12) The grad students have lives in addition to science. And while I love being a lab rat, a work hard, play hard kind of place is cool with me.
13) I may be able to stay and do an O.D. (Doctor of Optometry) after I finish my PhD.
14) They hosted a beer tasting. Like a wine tasting, but with beer... complete with mini-lecture on how beer is made and whatnot. While I'm still not crazy about the beverage, at least I have a better understanding of it.
15) Botanical Garden/pretty park ON CAMPUS.
16) It really is the best program for my interests. I'm interested in all levels of neuroscience... as it relates to vision. Fear conditioning, though I can learn and comprehend it, just doesn't do anything for me in terms of sparking my interest.

So, now I have 4.5 months to make peace with moving away... and to figure out all of the mechanics of moving across the country.

But first, there is thesis and graduation and being a senior tying up all sorts of odds and ends. Which will keep me incredibly overcommitted and busy for the next ... not quite two months. One month: thesis. Two months: Graduation. EEK!
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