Tomorrow, I am going to begin a four-day-long road trip so that I can make the visits to two of the schools I am applying to. Of course, due to the logistics of the trip, I am visiting Dartmouth first, since Hanover, NH, is closer to home than Philadelphia is.
In addition, my parents are vacationing as well, and they wanted either to go to the beach or to visit some tourist attractions in Philadelphia (for some reason my parents always want to see, and shop, at a Chinatown whenever there is one available on the trip, hence why they insisted on the fourth day in Toronto, which I would have dispensed with, were I to do this trip alone) like the Art Museum, just a couple of blocks away from UPenn, or the Liberty Bell. Plus my parents are almost totally clueless about Ivies in general; for them, Yale is some school 5-6 hours away from home whose greatest physical asset is experimental particle physics. And because my current first choice is UPenn, for particle cosmology, my parents have started to associate UPenn with particle cosmology, while no such association with Dartmouth exists in their minds.
You may ask why am I visiting Ivy League schools and not other schools on my list. It’s not because of some snobiness or some Ivy League obsession, even though I’m applying to two “lesser Ivies”. Tufts, the second-closest to home, would require me to make a greater detour than Dartmouth would, if I was to go to Philadelphia from there, vs. going straight to Philadelphia. In short, logistics.
Plus there are so many who are clueless about what the Ivy League actually is: when I mention Dartmouth and UPenn as Ivy League schools, the undergraduates in my lab think of both as schools outside the conference, and somehow assume MIT, Caltech and Stanford are Ivy League schools (while they actually belong to the NEWMAC, SCIAC and Pac-12 respectively). And that UPenn lacks the glamour of the other schools of the conference; at home, I could say UPenn is the least-known of the Ivies (except maybe in international business circles), behind Brown or Dartmouth.
So I decided not to carry anything along with me that pertains to Banks, Bender & Wu or what I currently do in the lab, because this is my chance to unwind from what happens in the lab (or should I say office, since the setup of the lab, as a theoretical particle physics lab, is made as such that a graduate student’s office space is effectively one’s lab station as well) for more than two days at a time. Bon voyage.