A few days back in the states

Trip Start Jan 07, 2013
Trip End Aug 01, 2013

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Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I knew I was back in the USA with the first street I tried to cross. In Colombia, red lights and signs can be considered more like... Suggestions. I had grown to appreciate the convenience of unrestricted j-walking, unlike the officer on the other side. Thankfully he let me go with a warning after hearing my semi valid excuse.

I took my first week off from the South American adventure to check out Berkeley. It was visit day for prospective phd and masters students, so i got to tour the campus and meet all of the lab professors that will employ me for the next 2-6 years. Although I was back in the states, I held true to my couch surfing and stayed with two
Phd students in the mechanical engineering department.

It was a really educational and eye-opening trip. Last week I only had the vaguest perception of what being a grad student entails. My host and countless others filled me in on everything from research funding to where to party. I was amazed and excited by the labs I saw and the projects I would have the opportunity to work on. I was also extremely relieved to learn that it is uncommon for a mech E here to go through school un-funded.

I spent virtually all of my free time walking around the town, getting a feel for the people, and trying to determine if it's a place I would live. When my first 30 minutes of wandering brought me to a used camping supply store, I had my answer. I love the great diversity of the people, food, and culture. Everyone was laid back, yet intellectually driven and sporty. Even the researchers of some of my preferred labs are climbers!

After Thursday and Fridays Berkeley events, I spent the rest of my time in San Francisco to visit some good friends. Small world, but I met fellow students from china, Thailand, and Germany in Berkeley. One was even completely unplanned!

Overall I can definitely see myself living in Berkeley for perhaps even longer than five years. It set the bar high for MIT and U Penn to live up to. the brief stint back in the states was a great way to recharge the batteries and get some needed high level English interaction. So the journey continues!
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