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University of Maryland Department of Physics 1117 John S. Toll Physics Building College Park , MD 20742



xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxMarch 2006 - Issue 45


Last Month's Blog- Young Soo Yoon

Willie Merrell:10 Months of Traveling

I have always hoped to enjoy, what I saw as one of the great rewards in physics, which is to travel. Over the past ten or so months I got my wish and it has been quite an experience.

It started last April when I spent three months at Princeton University in New Jersey . I got a lot of work done, learned a lot of things and I got to see graduate student life in a different environment. Princeton is the only place I've seen, so far, where the graduate student housing complex has a full bar in its basement. Study hard and party harder. Sometimes that bar was the social hot spot for the town.

Then I spent the fall semester at the Kavli Institute for theoretical physics at the University of California Santa Barbara. This place was a real eye opener. I saw professionals from all over the country come together to talk physics, play soccer, and eat. If anyone thinks that studying physics is a non social endeavor, they should go to the Kavli institute. I think that the most important thing that I learned there was that even the people who seem really smart and independent learn a lot of what they know by asking a lot of questions (sometimes, they'd even ask some not so smart questions). Added to being right next to the beach, I'd say overall it was a great place.

Then in January I went to the University of Michigan to continue a collaboration that I started at UCSB. Once again, I entered a unique environment. This place was ridiculously cold, as I expected, but it shared to the same personality types and desire for excellence in physics, that I experienced in my previous trips and that I recognize here at Maryland . To top it off, Michigan has really big cookies.

One really does get to see very different things when one travels. It's good to see that grad student issues don't change very much. Jackson is Jackson no matter what school you're in. And quals are hard. There are many different people one has to work with, some nice, some not so nice. Research is exciting and exasperating all at the same time. Yes, I had a great time traveling. Jet lag sucks though.




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