Thursday, February 18, 2010

Harvard update

I thought I'd give you guys a quick update about my trip to Harvard. First of all, my flight was...eventful. We were supposed to land in Boston at 4:20, but their airport was closed because of the snow. Instead we had to land in Providence, RI. It took over an hour to deplane since everyone was landing there and they were understaffed. I smartly grabbed a quick dinner, and then we reboarded at 7:20. ...We didn't take off until 10:20 because a plane was stalled on Boston's runway and no one could land. Yep, I got to sit on a plane for three hours. Fun stuff. Everyone was getting so cranky that they started giving us free alcohol, but at that point I just kind of went to sleep.

Other than that, Harvard was wonderful. The campus was absolutely beautiful. All of the winding old streets were a bit insane - how did it take so long for people to build cities on grids? The department was housed in the same building as the natural history museum, which was equally amazing from the short peak I got. Exhibits on global warming and evolution, shiny rocks and skeletons and every taxidermy animal you can think of!

More importantly, the people were great. I met with faculty and current grad students from 10 until 6. Everyone was intelligent (obviously) and super nice - they totally defied the stuffy Harvard stereotype. I learned all about the department, life as a grad student, living in Boston. Don't want to say anything more than that before I visit my other potential schools, though. Sorry! (Though as a fun side note, I met the professor who did the study that was in Nature recently on how running barefoot actually causes less stress and injuries - you may have seen it around the internet. He was wonderful!)

My potential advisor and her husband (another professor in the department) took me out to a very nice restaurant for dinner. Our conversation was everything you shouldn't talk about at dinner - sex, politics, and religion. They were really interested in what it was like being an evolutionary biologist and an atheist in Indiana (I included the Society in my resume, and they gave me major kudos for it). Long story short: I think I will be much more comfortable living in the east coast. Perk: No longer have to totally freak out about the professor finding my blog, since she'd probably agree with what I'm saying. Downside: What the heck will I blog about if I'm living in Liberal Land?

The flight back was kind of uneventful, except for Random Talkative Older Guy who talked to me the whole first flight (only 45 minutes, thankfully). Usually I don't mind chatting with strangers, but I was just so exhausted that morning. He was nice though, and surprisingly very pro science and evolution. He was joking about how he'd keep an eye on me for when I'm presenting my awesome research on tv - maybe one day!

(Oh, and since people were asking, yes, I'm pretty much in. Just going to come down to me saying yes or no!)


  1. Good on you, Jen! But … no Oxford? Or even Stanford? D=

    (Just kidding!)

  2. Stanford is still a major choice. That would be what happened if I said "no" to Harvard, like I said =P

  3. The cool thing about Stanford is that it is in super awesome Nor-Cal. It was 70 degrees today. (Coming from a total stranger...) I'm proud of you. You have a great blog, you are an atheist activist and you are a brainiac. Jen, good luck to you and don't forget, once you go Nor-Cal you don't go back.


  4. You haven't gotten out to Stanford yet....

    Magnolias are blooming, daffodils are out, you can pick oranges off the trees. People are friendly.

  5. Wouldn't it have been more practical to put everyone on a bus from PVD to Boston? It's only about 60 miles.

  6. Congrats! Harvard is the big time. I wish you luck in everything.

  7. "What the heck will I blog about if I'm living in Liberal Land?"


  8. All of the winding old streets were a bit insane - how did it take so long for people to build cities on grids?

    Ancient Greek cities were built with a spaghetti-like tangle of streets because it made them easier to defend -- natives who had lived in a city all their lives would know the layout, while an invading army would get confused.

    Fear of attack (French or Indian) might still have been an issue when New England's first cities were founded, or maybe building cities that way was a tradition that persisted after the practical reason for it had disappeared.