Benjamin Stahl

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Days 58 & 59: UT Austin Open House

Posted by Benjamin Stahl on February 26, 2016 at 12:00 AM

I woke up early for my first official day at the open house for the Astronomy department at UT Austin. My grad student host picked me up and we went to campus for a breakfast with the department. Our meal was breakfast tacos, apparently an Austin classic. They were delicious, and we listened to the department chair speak while we ate. Afterwards I was off to meetings with faculty members, where I got to learn more about their research. The whole group reconvened for a pizza lunch, and then split up again for more individual meetings with faculty. Later in the afternoon I attended a colloquiem and then joined many grad students and prospective students for happy hour at a nearby restaurant. Then I was off to dinner with a few other students and a faculty member; it was nice to be in a smaller group and eat some really delicious food. After dinner we went downtown to check out a few bars and Dar joined us and got to meet some of the people I had been meeting during the day. We had a blast out with the other students and didn't get back to our hotel till late.

I went in a little earlier the second day to meet with a specific professor, and then joined the rest of the prospective students for coffee and pastries during a presentation from several members of the department. Next, we all went on a tour of the campus with a stop at the 3D visualization lab. There, one of the astronomers showed us visualizaitons of some of his simulations; it was very cool. Afterwards we all went out ot lunch at a burger place in town; it was nice to able to meet and chat with some students that i hadn't yet spoken with. Upon getting back to campus I went to a few more meetings with faculty. After finishing up with the meetings I went with two grad students and another prospective student to the Texas Capitol building for a tour. It was quite the building and I learned some interesting things about Texas during the tour.After the tour, the four of us went to a place called the Hope Outdoor Gallery. I think the pictures will be self explanatory.After the Hope Gallery, my grad student host and I went and picked up Dar and then drove to a party for all of the prospective students at a faculty members house in the Austin suburbs. We had a great time there meeting more of the faculty and grad students, and eating and drinking a bunch. When the party was ending we went downtown with some of the grad and prospective students; it was a lot of fun and we got to check out a few bars in a part of town that we hadn't seen yet. Eventually we decided to go back to the hotel and said our goodbyes to all of the people that we had met. We got back late and relaxed a bit before going to bed.

All in all, my experience at the recruitment event was very positive; a good mix of seriousness and fun. I learned a lot about what's going in the department and what the faculty are all about, and I liked it a lot. The grad students seem happy, and to have a good relationship with their superiors. We'll see what my perspective is of the other schools after I visit them, but Austin is certainly an exciting prospect for me.

Categories: 2016 Road Trip

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