A New Year, A New “State” of Mind

Gophers A Go-Go

This past weekend I was in Minneapolis, Minnesota for a Doctorate interview. I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from my applications, which is nice, because it gives me a renewed sense of pride in myself (and in humanity, for that matter). I went in to the weekend expecting it would be fun, and nerve-wracking, and got a bit of both, but I actually came back surprised at how much I enjoyed my trip.

I arrived on Thursday. I was picked up with a group of other recruits at the airport (which after transferring at LaGuardia, was a beautiful and spacious sight to behold) by a current Ph.D. student. In typical Brian fashion, I was the first to arrive and therefore was nervously chatting with the student about her experiences in Minneapolis and the University for that matter, and if she had ever been to Montreal.

Of course, the answer to that question for most mid-westerners is no. I was taken aback by how few the amount of people was that had been to Canada, but at the same time this was also refreshing; a chance to meet a whole new group of people with completely different, but similar, backgrounds. We proceeded from the airport to the hotel and then to “Sally’s” where we met a group of professors and current students for the first dinner. I initally bonded with a girl studying in Rochester, NY and a guy studying in San Diego, CA. The food was great, and although the waiter seemed confused when I asked to have my food “boxed up,” I had a thoroughly enjoyable time. I hear their shellfish is delicious, but alas, for those with allergies in the family it’s a risk I did not want to take on an interview weekend.

The next day was the gauntlet. Each recruit had six interviews, half an hour each, with a poster session in between. The morning interviews, for me, were in St. Paul, and despite the weather it seemed to be a beautiful place to be. Gradually, however, the interviews took their toll and my mind wore thin. By the last interview, I must have seemed so dazed, but I was still engaged and interested in the strong research being done at the U.

That evening was a “formal” dinner at the Alumni center (with a student body of 56,000+ students on the campus, they have an entire building dedicated to Alumni), and I fell in love with two people from Wisconsin. Who would have thought, a guy from small town Canada meshing so well with Wisconsinites. The remainder of the stay we went to breakfast at Chatterbox Café, on a brewery tour of Summit Breweries, bowling, to dinner at Rudolph’s and finally drinks at The Local in downtown Minneapolis. All of these places I highly recommend to any traveler, and had a blast the whole time.

And then, I had to leave. On my way home, I was thinking about my experience. I was blown away by the relaxed attitude of the students and professors, the hospitable nature of the program, and by the caliber of my fellow recruits. I actually said to myself leaving, “if these people end up in this program, I am going to have to go too,” which I suppose is a good sign (plus the tears shed over leaving such a wonderful city and such amazing people).

Moral is, if any of you are ever in Minnesota, pop by Minneapolis. You’re sure to eat some great food and encounter some welcoming people.

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