750 Words: The Final Stretch

Wow, it’s really been a while since my last post. I’m guessing I talked about quitting my job at New York & Company in the vlog (I’m not going to bother with listening to myself talk lol). Well, I wasn’t jobless for very long — I started working at Talbots later in April as their keyholder and it has been great. They’re more organized, they actually have enough people to cover a shift, and most importantly, people periodically bring food for everyone to snack on (especially during new floor sets). Other than that, I went to A-Kon again this summer. There were a few highlights — cosplay contest, a few panels, artist’s alley — but overall it didn’t feel all that special to me. Comparatively, I still prefer SGC to A-Kon; this year’s A-Kon had a similarly laid-back feel to it, but there wasn’t much that piqued my interest in way of panels. To be fair, I haven’t watched or kept up with anime in years. Maybe one day I’ll go to a comic con. It feels like it’ll probably be more appealing, since it’s not focused around one specific genre.

North Mall

The construction of the north mall has finally been finished! During my entire undergrad, that area with the fountain and the grass on either side of it was blocked off. The whole park atmosphere that they’ve added is really refreshing — it makes me kinda regret having classes on campus only one day a week.

In other news, I started working at a lab this summer, as part of my research internship requirements. This lab (Kennedy Lab of Aging and Cognition) focuses on cognitive aging, and they actually do a fairly wide variety of things for a lab. My project/focus is on white matter hyperintensities, and so far most of what I’ve been doing in lab is figuring out how to use MATLAB and playing with this Lesion Segmentation Tool, which makes WMH probability maps of participants’ scans.

I could go into more depth about lab stuff, but that’s not really my focus for this post. It has come to my attention that this is really going to be my last semester here at UTD. While I don’t have the usual “school pride” that students have at other schools — particularly large ones like UT Austin or Texas A&M (maybe it’s a football-related thing?) — I’ve grown very fond of UTD. Living in an apartment from freshman year was great, playing online video games with my friends in the computer labs at night was awesome, and I always enjoyed watching people play pool and ping-pong while I ate at the student union on the upper floor.

While I guess only the first point is something that was unique to UTD — not anymore though, since they finished the residence halls after my freshman year — something about the size and location of it has always struck me as quaint and homely. Like, in the absence of a football team to bring us together, the student body fully embraced all the habits and behaviors of being nerdy and prided itself on it. Fliers of LAN parties could be found all over the campus, one would occasionally find little printouts of Pokemon stuck in random places from a Pokemon scavenger hunt, the computer lab pretty much always has at least one person playing a MOBA game, and I can always count on getting streetpasses on my 3DS while walking around on campus. We have cheerleaders for our chess team, which is apparently phenomenally good. I often feel out-of-place, like I don’t belong or really fit in with the people I’m with, but being a student at UTD is probably the closest I’ve come to feeling “at home” with a general population.

I found some amazing friends here at UTD, pretty much from the first day — even if the circumstances that brought us together were a bit odd. I doubt I would’ve found such amazing friends as quickly if I had gone to another school. Admittedly, and somewhat regrettably, I’ve gotten pretty distant from the culture at UTD since I and my friends finished undrgrad and two of them moved away. Now that I live ~45 minutes away from campus, I doubt I’ll be able to remedy that in this last semester of my masters program. Nevertheless, I’ll always think of UTD fondly; for all the ups and downs I encountered during my 6 years there, the time I’ve spent on that campus has been the best time of my (short 23-year) life. I don’t think I have ever regretted choosing to come to UTD, and consider myself unbelievably lucky for choosing a college where I met my best friends and discovered my true dream career — a life of research in neuroscience. I can only hope that I will be anywhere near as fortunate in my search for the school where I’ll get my PhD.

Realizing how little time left I have at this school has also really made me realize how little time left I have to apply to PhD schools. I have to choose which schools I want to apply to, plus study, take, and do well on my GRE, ask professors to write letters of recommendations, write my statement of purposes, and figure out application processes — all on top of my courses for the semester and a part-time job. I guess that’s one thing that being pre-med had over going into academia; they had a dedicated program and multiple pre-med student associations to inform and coach you through the application and admissions process.

Ah well. I guess all I can say is this: WISH ME LUCK!

  • bekah

    I haven’t been to your blog in a while! I just randomly remembered it. I have a lot of reading to catch up on, but congrats on your last semester. Bittersweet!

    • http://thewatchglass.com/ Praxling

      Haha thanks! It’s been a simultaneously long and short 2.5 years of grad school.

      Have you gotten back into blogging recently? I always enjoyed your posts.

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