Mile High Thoughts

30Sep06

I’m slowly trying to post some of my first impressions of the Marshall orientation and the UK. Below is something I scribbled on the flight from Dulles to Heathrow. I managed to squeeze it in between the multiplayer games of trivia on the in-flight entertainment network (I won once!).

19 September 2006
10:02 pm EST
Somewhere over the Atlantic, in the middle seat of the middle isle.

I just watched An Inconvenient Truth and played some games of trivia with the other Marshall shcolars over Virgin Atlantic’s multiplayer gaming system. It’s hard to feel like I’m actually heading to a new country, let along a new school. Part of my expects to move into a nice room in Lagunita Court, Stanford while freshmen scurry around during orientation.

I’ve had three months of lazy, meandering physics reading and leisure time. The last three days have been an amazing, whilrwhind chance to meet and talk to the other scholars. I’ve learned a tremendous amount just listening to my new friends. For the most part I’ve been content to be part of the audience at many of our events. My scientific slant is a bit out of place for many of the talks and topics we’ve heard. however, there is a lot I’ve taken from the questions and dialogues that the other scholars have asked and initiated. I’ve been impressed by their thoughts, exuberance, and mostly the tremendous respect we have for one another. It’s truly a group of remarkable people with whom I am honored to spend time with. I’m looking forward to future travels, close friendships, and even one or two future collaborators!

However, I’ve found my first dialectic. Many of us are hard working students with goals and passion for our subjects. However, all of the former Marshalls we talk to have been exhorting us to treat the fellowship as a chance to “get off the treadmill.” This is both because of the unique opportunity as well as our role as ambassadors (sometimes I wonder what I’m supposed to represent). On the other end of the dialectic are my brief communications with my friends from Stanford who are now across the US starting the first years of their PhD programs. They are reading papers, engaging professors, and thinking about research programs. By comparison, my summer’s most efficient weeks were mere vacation (perhaps this was a good thing). Now I’m facing a master’s-level program where I’ll learn and review lots of important things, but I’ll not be doing ‘real research.’

How do I balance “getting off the treadmill” with wanting to pedal even hard to keep up?



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