Bean Town

Trip Start Dec 28, 2006
Trip End Mar 01, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Saturday, February 17, 2007

It came time to leave Pete behind again in Seattle as I flew to
interview at another grad school, Northeastern University in Boston,
MA.  The airline ticket was more than $600, but luckily, like U of I,
Northeastern would reimburse me for travel, hotel, and food.  I flew
into Boston on Thursday night, spent all day Friday interviewing with
professors, Saturday I walked around and visited modern and historic
landmarks, and I meandered the streets looking for a few last things to
do on Sunday before returning to Seattle.

Once I arrived at the Midtown Hotel on Huntington Street Thursday night I threw my bags into the room and went off looking for supper.  My wandering brought me to
The Globe restaurant and bar in Copley Square, which, unknown to me at
the time, is home to the Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library. 
A group of middle school English students was also staying at the
Midtown Hotel; their heavy accents made Boston seem like London, and
for a moment it felt like I hadn't been booted from the UK.  The Midtown is straight across the street from the Christian Science Mother Church; the view from my room included its giant golden dome and plaza as well as the Prudential Center, an upscale shopping mall in downtown Boston.  I spent the remainder of the night Thursday ironing my interview clothes and watching t.v. as I worried about what I would say the next day.

The interviewing process at Northeastern, to my surprise, was even more laid back than Illinois.  Though I did meet and interview with many professors, there was no admissions committee sitting across the table, no "why should we pick you" questions, and no people competing for the same spot in the lab.  My interest in Antarctic fish biology is what brought me to apply to both Illinois and Northeastern.  I am interested in the research of Dr. H. William Detrich III, who studies the evolution and biochemistry of erythropoeisis (red blood cell formation) in Antarctic fishes.  Jon and Joyce, his grad students from New York City, currently investigate the molecular pathways of globin formation, an essential process in the creation of red blood cells.  I also spoke with Frederick Davis, the head of the biology department, Jacqueline Piret, the graduate student advisor, and professors Phyllis Straus, Wendy Smith, and Rebeca Rosengaus about their research.  The attitude and intelligence of everyone at NEU was what I have come to love about academia; it is sure to be a difficult decision where I will decide to obtain a graduate degree. 

Northeastern University is situated in downtown Boston, just a short train ride or walk from several famous places.  Saturday I had the entire day free to explore on my own; I visited the New England Aquarium, Boston Common, Government Center, Faneuil Hall, the Boston Massacre site, Fenway Park, the North End, and everything in between.  The Aquarium had the greatest jellyfish exhibit I've ever seen, a gigantic three story cylindrical tank in the center, and artificial penguin colonies surrounding the tank.  Someone dropped a piece of paper in the water and, finding it suitable building material, a penguin brought it to a rock and tore it apart to make a nest.  In the center tank was an assortment of ocean life: reef sharks, loggerhead sea turtles, fish of all sorts, swimming around a massive chunk of living coral reef.  Included in the admission was an IMAX movie, Deep Sea 3D.  It was without a doubt the largest screen, the highest production value, and the most fascinating documentary these eyes have seen. 

Once I had my fill of marine animals and U.S. history I decided to take myself on a date, dinner and a movie.  Adrian Gilbert, the financial advisor for the Biology Dept. at NEU, had suggested a few places to visit while I wandered the city.  The Italian restaurants in the North End (it doesn't matter which one) are a must for eating out in Boston.  I rode the green line to the North End and found dozens of them, entering one at random (and lucky me, one with a hot hostess) I sat down and ordered a mouthwatering chicken artichoke dish and a glass of house chianti.  For dessert, chocolate cheesecake.  After dessert, more wandering, this time a random stop on the subway.  Fenway Park sounded nice, and a little walking around brought me to an AMC theater.  What's dinner without a movie?  I saw Children Of Men starring Clive Owen, about a future where women can no longer have children and the world is sent into chaos.  An interesting plot, great directing and acting, but it's not how I would have written it. 

Sunday I checked out of Midtown and started walking, with no destination in mind.  I figured wherever I ended up when it came time to get to the airport I could just hail a cab.  Copley Square was calling my name.  When I visited Thursday night Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library were shrouded in darkness; now it was bright and clear.  Wandering the streets tends to make a person hungry, and when a hungry person happens upon an awesome little pizzeria, well, that person tends to order a delicious homemade mushroom pepperoni pizza and eat the whole thing.  That person, having been re-energized by pizza sauce and melty gooey mozzerela, would then be inclined to wander more streets, looking for more interesting places to visit.  This is my observation, and I think it is what keeps the pizza industry alive.  The Boston Public Library looks inside like I pictured Boston all my life: elaborate carved stone and wood, cavernous intricately detailed colonial rooms and the smell of history.  Boston is home to 42+ colleges and, as I learned, more American history than any other city I've seen.
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