Any thoughts on my schools?

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aristotle
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Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby aristotle » Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:48 pm

So, at this point, it's looking like I'm choosing between UCLA, Wisconsin-Madison, and Maryland-College Park. I'm looking between CME and Experimental Plasma, leaning towards plasma.

UCLA seems to have good programs, but I'm not sure I want to live in LA. Also, I'm not sure if living in LA would be affordable on TA salaries. I'll be visiting in a couple of weeks.

Wisconsin seems like a great place, I really enjoyed Madison when I visited, and the program seems strong. They also have a high graduation rate, not much weeding out. On the down side, the winters sound like hell.

Right now, I'm leaning towards Maryland. I know College Park has a reputation for being a poor city, but UMD seems to be the most prestigious, I like the DC area and climate, and I have family in the area. I'll be visiting Maryland this week.

Overall, I'm just curious, do people have thoughts about these three schools? I know I can't see everything from short visits and online searching. If you've got thoughts/suggestions, I'd appreciate it!
Last edited by aristotle on Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mhazelm
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby mhazelm » Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:59 pm

Well, I'm moving to Wisconsin unless a spot magically opened at Penn. I'm pretty excited. The winters are bad, but unless your coming from a place like AZ I can't see why it would be that bad. And even in Madison you're not too far from Lake Michigan and some pretty nice scenery, plus a good graduation rate is important. And also, I know a lot of professors who got their PhDs there. It seems that they have a good job placement rate for their new PhDs. But Maryland is good too... I would've considered it if I hadn't been rejected there... but just think - better cheese in Wisconsin! now that's hard to beat.

Imperate
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby Imperate » Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:27 pm

Unrelated to your question, but just out of curiosity why do you dislike the idea of living in LA? I'm international and maybe moving there without knowing much about the place itself, but I keep getting mixed responses, most americans seem to hate the idea of living in LA, most english people seem to love the idea (but of course they have mostly never been there either)

aristotle
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby aristotle » Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:38 pm

Imperate wrote:Unrelated to your question, but just out of curiosity why do you dislike the idea of living in LA? I'm international and maybe moving there without knowing much about the place itself, but I keep getting mixed responses, most americans seem to hate the idea of living in LA, most english people seem to love the idea (but of course they have mostly never been there either)


I've spent a couple summers in the LA area. It's not awful, but I've just got a few issues. There are a lot of people, and it's very sprawled, which means a lot of car pollution/smog. The cost of living is really high, especially in the areas surrounding UCLA. Plus, just as a personal preference, Southern California is a desert, which means there isn't much plant life.

cato88
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby cato88 » Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:40 pm

Imperate wrote:Unrelated to your question, but just out of curiosity why do you dislike the idea of living in LA? I'm international and maybe moving there without knowing much about the place itself, but I keep getting mixed responses, most americans seem to hate the idea of living in LA, most english people seem to love the idea (but of course they have mostly never been there either)

Ask an american why he hates the idea of living in Los Angeles and youll see it not based on any real reason but just some vogue idea of the city he might have heard from other Americans who might have lived in the city for a year or two.

Examples
http://www.associatedcontent.com/articl ... tml?cat=16
1) Also true for NYC maybe not as much but what is wrong with not being fat?
2) It is a big city in America. This is has a greater amount of truth in NYC.
3) It is a big city in America. This is has a greater amount of truth in NYC.
But those rent rates are not representative of the average in Los Angeles.
4) It is a big city in America. If you know where to buy food you could find it for cheap.
5) Ticket prices are high across the nation.


There is also traffic but big cities have traffic but maybe this is the only thing that
has more truth in Los Angeles.


aristotle wrote:I've spent a couple summers in the LA area. It's not awful, but I've just got a few issues. There are a lot of people, and it's very sprawled, which means a lot of car pollution/smog. The cost of living is really high, especially in the areas surrounding UCLA. Plus, just as a personal preference, Southern California is a desert, which means there isn't much plant life.

You could say that about any big city. I just dont understand why people are surprised that big cities have people and the side effects of a lot of people.

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Helio
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby Helio » Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:49 pm

Most Americans have not been to LA either... they just drive through it... which is the WORST way to get sense of the city. LA can be really nice if you have a car and a lot of patients in driving. LA is very different from the big city because it basically was planned as multiple small towns, not this thing that it is now

In all honesty if you want to do Plasma go to Madison. They have a large program and have a better program than UCLA. UCLA might be in a city per se, but LA is just a sprawl and it expensive anyway... if you get cheaper rent you need a car, to not need a car you need to pay higher rent.

There is plant life... palms... and there is the santa monica mountains which are a great forest to hike etc.

dsperka
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby dsperka » Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:54 pm

Consider this: global warming will make LA weather worse, Madison weather better.

cato88
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby cato88 » Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:03 pm

Helio wrote:Most Americans have not been to LA either... they just drive through it... which is the WORST way to get sense of the city.

I cant believe how true this is and how adamant people can be based on their notions of the city based on just driving through. I guess the biggest change from before where it wasnt in vogue to hate LA and now is that people attention spans have shortened drastically and people forgot that it takes a while to get a sense of a city. That is why cities with everything in a few square miles are favored now because it appeases our ADD. I cant believe how many people go to NYC for a day or two to visit and believe they know all about what the city is like but cities like NYC with everything really in a few square miles have an advantage in drive by impressions.

fastones3
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby fastones3 » Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:13 pm

I don't know... I lived in Pasadena (~ 30 minutes north of downtown LA) for a while and I did not like it. It's way too phony, the pollution really is disgusting, and it takes forever to get around anywhere. The public transportation system is terrible! There are some nice spots, like Santa Monica for example, but overall it's not that great of a place. UCLA is right next to Beverly Hills, kind of in a traffic congested area. I imagine it's possible to find a way to live around there, but things are kind of pricey.

Also, another thing that I annoyed the hell out of me was that local newscasters would give reports of celebrity sightings around the city. ("Britney Spears was sighted today at X Restaurant with her dog"). The local news. The people who should be reporting on more pertinent issues. Who the hell cares where Lindsay Lohan or Tom Cruise ate lunch. It shows the level of phoniness running around the area and can get tiring really quickly to those who aren't used to it.

With that said, some people really do love the LA area. My best advice would be to spend a week there to see if you like it. I don't know why other people on this thread are questioning why people don't like it...

cato88
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby cato88 » Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:23 pm

fastones3 wrote:I don't know why other people on this thread are questioning why people don't like it...

Because what you hear is expected and common for big cities, What do you expect out of a big city? No crowding? No side effects caused by so many people living there?

As a scientist this should help put it in perspective

http://www.worldatlas.com/citypops.htm
What percentage of the big top 20 cities are known for their clean air?
The only city in the US which you can compare to LA is NYC everything else is unfair comparison.

sterculus
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby sterculus » Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:31 pm

I've lived in the area for a few years and spent a summer at UCLA, so I'll defend it on the whole "LA" situation. First of all, the "five reasons to hate LA" are all bullshit. Some real issues:

Pollution: This is *far* worse inland (i.e. Pasadena/the "Inland Empire"). UCLA is not bad at all, since it is west of the city and only a few miles from the beach.

Car culture: Everyone knows this reputation, and it is correct. IMO there is really no comparison with any other city in the US - NY is orders of magnitude more centralized, which allows for good mass public transit. There is some decent rail (Metrolink) to get from the city to outlying areas, but this is mostly for commuters. From UCLA there is a decent bus network to get to the beach/downtown/Hollywood. If you go anywhere by car there is traffic but it really isn't bad if you avoid rush hour.

Weather: It is summer here all year. If that's what you want you'll love it. I myself miss winter a little.

Rent: Plenty of students attend UCLA so they clearly make it work. There are some cheaper areas if you're willing to branch out and commute to school.

There is so much to do in the LA area that you really can't go wrong. You're only an hour or so away from mountain ranges for outdoors activities, and a bit further gets you to Sequoia/Yosemite which are amazing. There are of course tons of urban things to do as well. The beach is close to UCLA. etc, etc. Sure there are phonies, but there are phonies in other major cities too. You could also say that in NY if you aren't a millionaire on Wall St people look down on you or whatever but I don't think that's fair, and likewise it isn't fair to say that everybody in LA is obsessed with looks or whatever.

If you have any more LA questions (or questions about plasma research at UCLA, since that's what I worked on there) shoot me a PM.

cato88
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby cato88 » Mon Mar 23, 2009 6:53 pm

I think the phony charge is hilarious. Every big city I have been to is full of phonies just different types. If you dont realize this youre probably a phony of a different type.

Boston/SF phony-Intellectual phony. Type who thinks they are gods intellectual gift to man because of an obvious wordplay pun they come up with. I believe alot of these people eventually move elsewhere to work for various news outlets and is the reason for those annoying puns on local news.

NYC phony - Believes he has become the most creative interesting person just because he lives in "the city" and everyone knows "cultcha" and talent are gained by osmosis. Believes NYC is the best city in the world ever, period.

Miami phony- Similar to LA,less clothes.

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dlenmn
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby dlenmn » Mon Mar 23, 2009 9:45 pm

Wisconsin FTW!

The winter isn't so bad. Just grow a beard or drink some Optimator and you'll be fine.

aristotle
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby aristotle » Tue Mar 24, 2009 2:25 am

dlenmn wrote:Wisconsin FTW!

The winter isn't so bad. Just grow a beard or drink some Optimator and you'll be fine.


I don't have the genetics to grow a beard...even my 55 year old father can't get a full beard ;). But yes, Spaten is wonderful. And I'm from Idaho, the cold wouldn't be that big of a deal. Just not sure if I want to put myself in that position again. ;)

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Helio
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby Helio » Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:17 am

aristotle wrote:
dlenmn wrote:Wisconsin FTW!

The winter isn't so bad. Just grow a beard or drink some Optimator and you'll be fine.


I don't have the genetics to grow a beard...even my 55 year old father can't get a full beard ;). But yes, Spaten is wonderful. And I'm from Idaho, the cold wouldn't be that big of a deal. Just not sure if I want to put myself in that position again. ;)


i dunno spaten might just be one of the lower quality beers out of munich but that is just my opinion... augustiner FTW

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dlenmn
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby dlenmn » Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:35 pm

No disagreement about the relative quality of Optimator, but the thing which helps against the cold isn't the taste...

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Helio
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby Helio » Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:41 am

dlenmn wrote:No disagreement about the relative quality of Optimator, but the thing which helps against the cold isn't the taste...


how about you try some whiskey instead? :shock:

Anyway will you around during the weekend? I am going up and over for the visiting weekend.

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dlenmn
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby dlenmn » Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:25 pm

That'll work too, but I think the jugs of pure ethanol sitting in many labs (for use as a solvent) would provide the real winner in that category.

I'm going to be around for the weekend and will take part in several of the activities. See you then.

isobelojalvo
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Re: Any thoughts on my schools?

Postby isobelojalvo » Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:45 pm

Okay, does anyone have any thoughts on my options: UCSC, U Wisconsin Madison or U Minnesota TC? I went to the UCSC weekend and one of the graduate students there basically assumed I'd pick Uwisc over UCSC. This is what's important to me when I make a decision:
1. Quality of education
2. Quality of research in HEP or LEP (high/low energy particle physics)
3. Town, weather, opportunities for fun in the free time.

I'll be visiting Wisconsin this weekend and then MN the weekend after.




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