Thursday, February 10, 2011

Decisions.. decisions..

Now that I have finally gotten into a graduate program, the next order of business is to find labs to rotate in.. Easier said then done.. First of all, my university allows only two rotations as opposed to three at other universities and I have already been assigned the lab in which I'll be doing my second rotation since the department is short of funds and this PI has offered to pay for my RAship in the summer.. There are two other labs that I'm interested in but although I am allowed a third rotation if I am unable to decide at the end of two, I don't think I will be supported with assistantships during the third one. All three labs deal with structural biology but one of them uses purely computational methods. The ideal thing to do would be to rotate in the lab which uses only computational techniques for one rota and choose one of the other two for the second.. But here lies the problem. The people that I have spoken to so far keep telling me not to be obligated to join the lab of the PI who's paying my stipend just because the PI is doing so and I feel like they are trying to give me a hint about something but how do I find out better what they are trying to tell me? The obvious answer is- ask the people working in that lab but the primitive department website does not provide the e-mail IDs of any of the students and it's really hard to actually find people and talk to them since everyone is usually busy in their labs. A mixer had been planned by the graduate student society here last week, which would have been a great way to get to know people but it was cancelled because of bad weather and hasn't been re- scheduled yet as far as I know..

In all, it seems like my department and university have gone out of their to make it hard for graduate students to communicate with each other.. A situation that could easily be remedied simply by giving students each other's e-mail IDs..

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Too much has happened.. the one week that I've been in the US. Yes, it's been that long and no, I can't believe it either.. The first couple of days were spent in running around, getting all the bureaucratic stuff done.. Registration, trips to the International student office, to HR etc.. Then, the bone chilling cold set in and I was paralyzed.. The blizzard that swept the whole of mid west brought the temperatures down in this town to the 40s.. But the sun did come out today and I've had a nice day.. Since so much has happened and it would be tough for me to get into details and document it all, let me just list some of the new experiences I've had and some new things I've learnt.. Because at the end of evreything, it's what you have learnt that counts..

1. On the 1st day, it took me half an hour to get to my building. I've now discovered short cuts and it takes me five minutes.
2. I've learnt the routes of the uni shuttle but I don't really need them 'cos of 1.
3. I've become acquainted with people who are willing to take me grocery shopping when I need to, which is very important since I don't have a car and have to rely on people who do.
4. I've learnt how to credit money to my student ID card and don't have to carry cash around and be afraid of being mugged anymore.
5. I've learnt to buy food at stores and to operate vending machines.
6. I've learnt how to do my laundry.

So, basically, I have learnt how to survive, how to be independent and for the first time in my life, to exist without having someone take care of me all the time. It is a heady and scary feeling all at the same time. I know I will make mistakes and fall but I also know I shall pick myself up and dust myself off.. because I have to and because there will be no one to pick me up. I do wish I wasn't all alone and my beloved was here with me but I'll have to wait another three months before I know if he'll be joining me. In all, it's going to be one hell of an adventure and no matter what happens, I'll always have the satisfaction of being a pioneer.. The first in my family to do a PhD and the first to study abroad.. Well, here's to good beginnings and better continuations..

Image from here.