Elves from Princeton, Hobbits to Mordor

Following snippets are from the PhD campus visit I recently had in an awesome university:

# I reached the university 10 hours later than my scheduled time due to all kinds of snowstorms which cancelled/delayed possible flights and left me to rely on reluctant bus drivers who at one point actually controlled my fate single-handedly. Hungry, tired and with messed up hair, my series of interviews with various professors began 5 minutes shortly after I reached their campus. I was most interested in the following professor because he was not an engineer but a scientist:

"So Ms. Singhal, you're clearly at a disadvantage here. You missed all the morning sessions where the faculty gave their research overviews, so you've no clue what we do-"

I cut him and told what I knew. And I offered if he's interested in seeing some of my papers that I had brought along.

"Ah I see. So you've done your homework."


# Another professor that I liked went into more of a philosophical questioning.

"So Ms. Singhal your research is interesting. Do you think you can apply these concepts to the real world? How long do you think we may have before these technologies are available for the public welfare?"

I guessed 10 years and she laughed.

"Well, things change rather slowly in the US, Ms. Singhal. 10 years is too optimistic anyway. So, tell me, do you think you can change the world?"

"Yes."


# Once the interviews ended, I was quite happy and sort of imagined that I had bagged it and all. Little did I know then that the competition was incredibly fierce with candidates from Ivy leagues and such brand names that I didn't even feel like telling people that I was from Jaali University. We had a lot of free food and lot of socializing events, campus tours, lab tours etc which I enjoyed but hour by hour in those three days I kept on meeting stronger and stronger candidates. Prospective graduate students were from Georgia Tech, Berkeley, Texas Austin, Stanford, Penn State, MIT, etc and even Princeton for god's sake. And the only reason those guys were interested in this university was because they had lived 20 years in their hometown and now wanted a goddamn change. Secondly this university which we were visiting is supposedly ranked good in my tiny specialization but overall the university is not that much of a tagname as Caltech, Ann Arbor etc.

Once I saw the people, their profiles, and their high IF publications, I turned quite depressed and tried my best to passively convey that this university isn't really as good as the others they have applied to. I tried this hard on the Princeton elf, this smart, hunk of a dude with a royal breeding who was looking down upon everything anyway. I sometimes wonder how god can make people so intelligent and so hot at the same time. And why I ain't blessed with a single quality? I hope he goes to Harvard or something. But why would anyone leave Princeton anyway.

So well, near the final hours of my stay at the cursed campus I was quite upset and began to hate everything. I hated my own incapability, own lame existence. I just had or have no chance. Profs were being nice to everyone apparently and will let us know in 2-3 weeks. I know what they gonna let us know. . .

And then I felt like a lonely, weak hobbit stranded in the dark land of Mordor. And I felt, I felt, Elves may be strong and capable but they don't care about the battle. They are just too good to participate or fight. They have nothing to fight for, no desperation they have in their soul. And most of all, they and all the other creatures of this middle earth lack one thing, with which this poor hobbit is blessed in a surplus quantity. And it is due to that one thing, this hobbit was able to match her shoulders with tall elves for a couple of days on sacred grounds. That one thing which I cherish beyond all, my friends, is courage.


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Current Book: "Selected Stories" by Edgar Allan Poe
Current Music: "Badal pe paun hain.." by Chak De India
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5 comments:

RAHUL MIGLANI said...

that one thing which I cherish beyond all, my friends, is courage.""
Sums its all.
I like the way you write !! Nice post ! Keep sharing !

Tanya said...

Thanks Rahul!!

Neeraj Kumar said...

And who said that you are not brilliant?

Anyways,through your posts you give us a chance to make the journey of an academic world that is very very aloof and impossible for many of us.

And your courage will make you proud in the coming weeks, i am sure of it.

Kirklops said...

To be honest, as far as a PhD program is concerned the reputation the university and the prof has in a given specialization is worth more than the "brand name" of the university. But you already know that, so does the Princeton elf and so does all the profs you are applying to. A courageous hobbit could indeed make it big. Good luck.

Tanya said...

Neeraj & Kirklops, your few words make a difference. Every time.

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