So, I think I'm going to turn down the University of Pennsylvania.
Don't get me wrong, I think Atlanta is a pretty lame city. But I'm going to be saying word up to the 404 because Emory is just a better place for me. Due to the proximity to the Center for Disease Control, the department at Emory is largely geared towards disease work. Instead of a plant biologists squinting at me and asking "what is it you want to do again?" the people I met at Emory are all about dead and dying things. This department has an entire class devoted to zoonotic diseases (in fact, I got to sit in on Tuesday) and in case that wasn't enough to destroy every last shred of resistance, the chair is offering me grant money to do work on the epidemiology of Ebola in Gabon.
My life is so hard. But enough about two excellent universities fighting over the privilege of my attendance.
Here is a pair of really ugly shoes I spotted on a lay over in Denver. It's also interesting to note that the woman who was wearing these shoes was sitting right next to a man who looks Milton Waddams.
Then, I caught my flight on Frontier Airlines, leaving this hideous excuse for footwear far behind. And I flew over a lot of flat, empty land that I hope never to live on. Like Arkansas.
Until finally it was snack time. And Frontier Airlines, in all its discount airline wisdom, decided that bread sticks and marinara sauce is the ideal in flight snack. And I have to say, it was probably the least inedible plane snack I've ever had in my life. Unfortunately, I wasn't keen enough to snap a photo of said snack.
Then we flew over some more places I wouldn't want to live in and finally landed in Atlanta. A city that as a lot of trees, kudos for that I guess. And kudos for Emory, for actually sending someone to the airport to pick me up.
I was whisked straight from the airport to dinner, at a Greek restaurant. It was very different than the pre-interview dinner at UPenn, in part because this wasn't the official interview weekend so it was only three recruits and a table full of current graduate students. And also, because the graduate students seemed happy and pleased to be there.
A graduate student who has similar research interests was kind enough to host me at her house. She introduced me to her two roommates and then left to meet a group of pushy Armenians. I went to bed.
The next morning, the chair of the department had great fun intimidating we three recruits by demanding that we ask him questions. I fiddled nervously with my blueberry muffin and asked about the course content for one of four required classes. The chair was pleased by the question, and he slapped me jovially on the back after answering. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Then interview, interview, interview until lunch. By the time I sat down with my piece of pizza, I had collected two New York Time articles and two journal articles from different faculty members.
And then campus tour, class, and more interviews. And in the down time between the official schedule ending and dinner with graduate students, one of the students gave us three recruits a tour of Atlanta. We passed about five streets named Peachtree, the CNN building, the Coca-Cola building, Margaret Mitchell's house, and a creepy planned mall community. As I despaired that this car ride would ever end, I thought about the Futurama episode were the lost city of Atlanta is found. Trying to convince myself that ancient Atlanta was more than just a Delta hub.
Finally, we drove to the restaurant we were going to have dinner at. In what I assume was an effort to sell us on Atlanta, we had Real Southern Cooking at Mary Mac's Tea Room. We started with something called a yeast roll. I admit, I was suspicious at first, yeast is pretty gross. But it turned out to be a little slice of heaven with butter on top. Also in the basket with the yeast rolls was the saltiest cornbread I have ever had the displeasure of tasting. And, this:
While I have nothing against cinnamon rolls, I find the idea of eating them before dinner gag-worthy. I guess that's just my liberal coast snobbishness talking. Since the sentiment seemed to be largely shared at the table, my hostess sequestered them away in her bag. The next morning, these cinnamon rolls were sent off with me on my 9:40 am flight.
After the starter carbohydrates, we were served a table full of what I assume passes for comfort food in some bizarre alternate universe. Because I'm sorry, there is nothing comforting about pear and mayonnaise salad. The pecan pie was pretty awesome though.
The rest of my trip consisted mainly of going to bed and an uneventful flight. And now I'm back in the bay area with like, an actual plan for the next five years of my life. Which kind of freaks me out, in a good way.