Visiting Minnesota, part 2

Oh, of course, after having eaten a half-chicken at The Commons, combined with key lime pie, I felt a little heavy and I had to go to sleep soon afterward. But the next day, I learned more about the program as well as the research directions Minnesota seemed to be taking. And so, we had to sit through at least a half-dozen research presentations, one for each subfield, including physics education. We had breakfast, as well as a speech by both directors of graduate studies (Kapusta for physics and Jones for astronomy) beforehand.

Figure 1: The first slide by Kapusta

Figure 1: The first slide by Kapusta

Then, for both Days 2 and 3, we had to sign up for lunch at restaurants in Stadium Village. I chose to eat at some Japanese restaurant but didn’t like sushi much so I ate pork yaki soba instead, before we met with the professors we were interested in. It was upon questioning the graduate students there that I learned how much did Minnesota like to waive coursework and to give advanced standing: I then re-evaluated what coursework I did and what I could get waived. They really were “No, don’t retake [some course]” in which case I would have 31 credits to take rather than 40. Plus I would get quantum mech 1 waived since the material was more like my first quantum mechanics course back home than the second one. But graduate quantum mech 2 was more iffy.

Since I signed up for only two group meetings with faculty, I had some time left to meet with other professors and current students. The recommender that had a connection at Minnesota asked me to meet with Vainshtein when I have the chance to do so, but it turned out that Vainshtein, while his working style was rather similar to how I work, did not take additional students. And that he was honest in telling me that he is a bad advisor, in the sense that, while you could talk about particle physics and that he will still understand what you say, he is not very good at making the graduate students follow the steps.

Figure 2: FTPI, on the 4th floor at Tate

Figure 2: FTPI, on the 4th floor at Tate

Oh, of course, food! On the second night, I ate risotto at Kafe 421, which was a Mediterranean restaurant in Dinkytown, but the question of how easy/hard Minnesota have it with respect to recruiting in Canada was not asked then. No more than on the breakfast of the third day. That breakfast, though, we had a team-based quiz game and many questions were on things pertaining to Minnesota (the state; most of the time, I refer to Minnesota as the university I will definitely attend by now) and I supplied 3 of the 15 winning answers by myself.

Figure 3: The winning quiz team

Figure 3: The winning quiz team

And, after a tour of the labs the students were interested in, we ended up eating in the Stadium Village restaurants again. I only signed up for the supercomputer tour because I knew what I wanted coming in, and I signed up for the supercomputer tour only because I thought that my future project may contain a computational component, and so I spent the rest of the time allotted to lab tours in PAN 110. Once this Chinese meal is over with, I signed up for a tour of the city, where we realized that, even in town, there were lakes, and that Minnesota was called the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” for a reason. Plus the implications of off-campus housing; it was financially preferable to live off-campus with roommates (Marcy-Holmes is a favorite of graduate students and one could have an apartment there with roommates in such a way that one could pay $300/month towards rent) and that Minneapolis is mostly a city for theater or music-hall fans if one was not outdoors-inclined.

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