1 semester down, 1 to go

After what seemed like a short stint at home, I’m back in Ithaca. Not going to lie, I was really bummed about coming back here.  I had a great holiday spending time at home and traveling all over Massachusetts.  Highlights included Fire & Ice birthday parties, a bridal shower, cookie swap, gingerbread house baking, some networking, and of course–Ugg moccasins and Sperry Topsiders (I have a thing for shoes at Christmas).  Although, after I stepped foot back in the apartment and caught up again with my structural peers I settled right back in to how my life ran as clockwork last semester.

Actual classes don’t start till next Monday.  So why did I arrive a couple weeks early?  Our Masters of Engineering project is due sometime mid-April; and because of the smart students we are, the Structures kids decided to come back early to work 10-hr days solely on our project before being tied down with numerous difficult classes.  It’s been great getting work done.  And it will feel awesome to have a substantial amount worked on before the semester starts; however, going from complete lack of work (known as winter break) to constant 10- hr days with no weekends has seemed to take it’s toll on me already.  Guess it’s just getting me used to my future as a consultant right? 🙂

Well, as an aside, the roommate and I were able to find a bit of time yesterday morning to get away from work. (Chenny has been back early working in the lab for his PhD work constantly as well).  Because our typical brunch place is closed for the long break, we had to substitute in Statler Brunch.  The Statler is Cornell’s renowned 5-star hotel.   Although I can’t afford a room in the hotel, I can manage to somewhat afford their great buffet Sunday brunch at least until the Carriage House reopens.

Dessert at the Statler Hotel's Brunch

Here’s to a next semester full of “learning points” (as our adviser likes to call them), friends, enjoying the last collegiate classes of my life, friends, and enjoying the Finger Lake Region.

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Grad School Lesson #2 – Domestication

With 450 swine flu cases reported on campus, I decided to take my mind of the “scary” epidemic and think about the good old days of cooking, sewing, and cleaning.

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OK…so that was a mild joke, I DO actually wear that dress with pearls and heals; however, I typically vacuum in a t-shirt, or rather, don’t really vacuum at all.  But in all seriousness, relating this back to grad school–it’s amazing how much psyche changes from senior year of college to being “old” and “that kid that graduated last May.”  Let’s compare:

Food:

Undergrad – ate whatever I could scrounge, typically at a club meeting where it was free, or triscuts/cheese/pasta

Grad – still scrounging for free food, but when I’m not doing that I’m homecooking mushroom bison burgers, bruschetta, steak tips, eggplant parm, or some other concoction with my roommate.

Purchases:

Undergrad – if you want something, you spontaneously buy it

Grad – you research and then search for the best prices EVERYWHERE, or in my case–you want a really pretty laptop case but they cost $50, so you sew one for $15

Weekends:

Undergrad – go intensely searching for the place to see and be seen.  Chenny, Lauren, and I walked around collegetown last Saturday night and it was the most amazing view being from the other “graduate side” of things.  I was asked 4 times by random strangers “what’s happening tonight?”, and I never knew. But at least in the end, I looked like someone who would know…I guess?

Grad – you know you’re too good to hang out with those “ruffian” undergrads; therefore, you plan a classy wine & cheese party in your flat or go to a classy bar instead, and when you want cheap food & drink, you just go to the ones provided to you by your school.  In my case, “TGIF” (Tell Grad’s It’s Friday) serves great $1 beer and no undergrads are allowed, they do all the work for you! none of the ruffians to be around.

So am I different now?  I don’t feel very different, but I can’t help thinking that even the seniors in college look young to me and don’t even get started on the freshman!  I do like this sense of cooking awesome homemade food; however, I’m still able to go plow out solid mechanics and finite element equations when the time calls for it.  And that doesn’t seem very domestic, just rather nerdy.

First Free Tee

Today marks the glorious day where I have been accepted into the “I have a free T-Shirt from my present college” society.  Yes, the society is full of pretty much every college student out there, but bear with me people. 

Cornell and the alma mater are different in many ways, but the factor I notice the most is that Cornell has a lot more hidden fees–gym membership, transportation, certain dinner events, etc–these all tend to have a fee associated with them.  Therefore, I was thrilled when I saw a “free t-shirt” sign put up by the Engineering Career Services.  I quickly set up my career net account, walked to the office to set up a time to get the resume critiqued, and was delighted to remember that this all deserved me a free Cornell t-shirt! :

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Yes! it was an extra large, and yes! it’s fairly plain…but it was free and that’s all that really matters in the life of a poor grad student.

 I wrote a blog entry some time ago about the ridiculous amount of free t-shirts I’ve collected from WPI (shown below) within 4 years.  I don’t think I’ll be collecting this many from grad school, but one is certainly a start!

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Ithaca is Gorges

To intro a bit, I am not just living in limbo between graduating and finding some sort of career (though it may feel like that at sometimes), nor did I choose grad school as “the way out”–I had to choose between an engineering job offer and a graduate education.  I chose the latter…I will regret this as I see my old classmates earning their paychecks while I’m still investing in school, but in the long run I’ll be happy with the decision.  I wrote a past undergrad blog which was picked up by my Alma Mater and pasted on their website here.  But now I’m starting with a clean slate to record the newer stage of my life.

This all brings me to packing up my life in central Massachusetts and moving

6 hours

(5hours if you don’t include all the stops for Subway and Dunkins) to a

2 person apartment in Ithaca to study for

1 year in Structural Science within the Civil Engineering department @ Cornell University.

How I ended up here in Ithaca, I really don’t know.  I guess it was a conglomeration of a lot of things.  I was excited to be accepted by Cornell, and then my excitement rapidly decreased as I was accepted to 4 other grad schools.  Decisions become a very methodical process for me that can take some time and a large pro-con list.  I won’t go into detail on that, but the important thing is that I’m now here and living with Chenny –another WPI alum and future Chemical Engineering PhD…I’m not cool enough to be a PhD student 🙂  That, or the fact that I really can’t wait to get out into the work world and away from academia.

Throughout the next year I will be recording ramblings, situations, life as a blonde engineering student (yes, I have my moments) while keeping myself and any other readers entertained.