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About astroyogi

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    Espresso Shot

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    2014 Fall
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  1. UPDATE: I tried another batch of cold brew, this time brewed longer and stronger with the darkest roast beans I could find. It tasted much better to me, but still not the same as regular old hot brewed coffee -- I have deemed cold brew coffee "gentle-milk."
  2. Top US hep-th programs are notoriously difficult to get into, and most people will say you need a perfect or near perfect PGRE to be considered as an international applicant. This is mainly because there are so many people applying to the top ranked hep-th departments, that the department generally has its pick of top scoring applicants, and it's generally more difficult to be accepted as an international in the first place. I can't tell you if it's "worth it" to apply, and I also can't gauge your admission chances based on your "stats" alone -- a lot of this stuff depends on personality and research fit, which varies dramatically from department to department. It also matters a lot if you have some sort of connection to the institution you're applying to, such as a previous student from your advisor doing well there, or professors reviewing your application that are collaborators with your current group. My only advice is, look at profiles in the physics gre forum, and if it's not clear that you wouldn't have a shot in hell, and you can afford it, apply away. Consider your applications as sort of lottery tickets, and you never know what will happen. I also recommend applying to a variety of programs -- a range of rankings, a range of research interests, anything that broadens your application's chances of getting reviewed by someone who might really want to work with you.
  3. Very excited to say that after two crazy months of searching for the right car, I finally found it! A new 2014 Kia Rio 5-door manual! When I was looking for cars I wanted: - Hatchback - Manual - Under 13k - Under 50k miles I never expected to get a new car and was looking for used cars exclusively, but it fell into my lap and was way too good of a deal to pass up on. The funny thing is, it's such an entry level, base model new car that it doesn't have power locks or windows -- the good old fashioned roll up windows make everyone laugh when they first see them. One less thing to break, I say! I really had wanted a Golf, but the Rio is really fun to drive too if you want a sporty hatchback with lots of cargo room. I really recommend checking them out.
  4. LOVE the Italian coffee maker. I have one and use it when I want some really strong coffee, but in order for me to use it every day I would need a two-cup size for my SO and I. This might change when I'm actually at grad school, long distance with the SO and can be greedy with my morning joe.
  5. It could be that I didn't make it strong enough, but I didn't dilute it at all when I first tasted it -- I'm not talking caffeine content, just that coffee taste punch -- the dark, stormy, bitter, sweet, smokey coffee that I like (even from blonder roasts) -- is missing with the cold brew. I'm thinking it's not my technique, since I've tried Chameleon Cold Brew, and cold brew from the best cafe in my area, and my own cold brew, and they all taste similar to me -- mild, sweet, and well... gentle. They certainly pack a caffeine punch, but I guess I'm less concerned about caffeine content and more about taste.
  6. I really needed to hear this right now, thank you
  7. Same situation here! It's so hard leaving behind a home. It feels like settling down, and uprooting it for what feels like, for me at least, "no reason" -- there's no reason in the relationship to leave. Very torn.
  8. I've done the cold brew thing before, and it's yummy, but it lacks that coffee "punch" for me -- maybe I like the bitter notes? Cold brew is good for iced coffee, but put any milk in it and to me it tastes like melted coffee flavored ice cream. But it is better for the tummy.
  9. Haha, ungracious eh? I want to drink coffee with you! The mention of the sediment, plus how unwieldy it is to clean sometimes, is what's keeping me from the french press idea. I would definitely be interested in getting a hand grinder in the lab if not just for snarky comment purposes. On an unrelated note, I wondered how many coffee fanatics considered putting some beans on the dash of their car on hot summer days to make sort of a car-ppuccino scent. I will need to check this out.
  10. I think it is plenty to say that you have been inspired by your coursework/research enough in your undergraduate career that you do not want to stop learning more about your field, and thus want to pursue graduate studies. A few of my friends applied with this approach and did well, without wanting to remain in academia forever. Knowing what you might want to do after your PhD is great, no matter if it's an industry career! If you have passion to pursue a career which can be helped with a PhD, you have reason enough to apply. I would actually offer some advice that is against bsharpe269's, which is to be careful taking time off between your undergrad and PhD -- if you don't want to try for the PhD yet, try to find an MS that you can afford -- I only say this because you're at a once-in-a-lifetime position in your career, and there's no harm (besides the stress and cost, of course) in applying to PhD programs now. If you take time to go work, you might enjoy it enough or lose momentum enough to not go for the PhD. I'm going for a PhD in a month, and even while researching full time this summer I feel like my course material is falling out of my head. It can be hard to stay motivated when you're not in the rushing currents of academia. That being said, certainly do whatever you believe to be the best decision for you.
  11. Definitely, definitely, include anything and everything you can that makes you stand out from the crowd and contributes to the impression that you are an individual who can network and share with a wide variety of people. That being said, always tie it back to the "narrative" of your statement, like olorwen mentions above. In my statement, I spoke about my disability advocacy. I introduced the topic with the sentence "Reaching out and interfacing with a variety of people can make also ripples of powerful change for people with disabilities or health challenges" which followed a section on how I worked with people to make academic progress. I followed the sentence with an explanation about how disability advocacy affected my academic career and how I worked with that community, and ended the segment by stating that "[my school] has prepared me to become a capable researcher and productive member of the scientific and greater communities." Likewise, when talking about leadership opportunites I had that were not directly related to my field of study, I said "I have found my communication and leadership skills to be invaluable to the pursuit of my academic career," and proceeded to explain how.
  12. I would definitely recommend explaining this in some way in your application
  13. When you say GRE 315, how much of that is math/how much of that is english? I know for international students applying to US schools, a lot rides on the PGRE, so that might be a determining factor for you -- also, I don't mean to nitpick, but it's "SUNY" as in State University of New York, and spelled "stony brook" -- I've seen applicants land themselves in trouble when they start misspelling program names in correspondence with the school, so I would advise against getting into the habit even on casual forums like this one. While in some cases schools will "send your application on" to a different department if it looks like you might have a better shot there (as in, send it to applied physics or astronomy if they won't take you in physics), only a few schools I applied to stated this directly, and even of those I'm not sure how many actually do this. In most cases I've seen, you need to apply to both departments -- and in some cases, the school will only allow you to apply to one.
  14. Some general thoughts on what helped me the most, before I head off to start grad school and forget everything: - A strong focus in my application: I tried to make it clear how the coursework I chose, the research and teaching I did, and the extracurricular experiences I had all tied together to prepare me for and stimulate my interest in my chosen graduate field at the specific school I was applying to. I laid this foundation for myself a few years before applying to graduate school, by choosing activities and courses I knew I would enjoy while still being able to add them cohesively to my application/resume/cv. - Relationships with my letter writers: I had tried my best to foster good connections and make good impressions on the people writing letters for me, which included frequently stopping by their offices just to update them on how my work/undergrad life was going and ask any questions I might have about the application process, courses, or my field in general. I think making a good personal impression on top of your good academic impression helps the writer add more genuine content to your letters of recommendation. What this means for you, though, will absolutely differ based on the individual -- I know some peers who did not have a good gauge on these types of interactions and just bugged their letter writers to death, so I tried my best to avoid that. Note: never annoy letter writers to death. - Explaining gaps in my application: I had a serious illness during one year of my undergraduate education, and I made sure to make that very clear without sounding like I was making excuses for myself (a delicate balance, but I was told it very much helped my application by professors who had reviewed it before accepting me) -- explaining clearly how you overcame adversity to succeed academically can often be a bonus point on your app because it shows dedication, even if during the time of adversity your grades dropped or you under-performed on a admissions exam. The whole picture is often much more important than one single part of your application. - Showing my personality in my statements: I think this specifically helped the most for the NSF GRFP application, but I had one part of my application where I had this sentence that sounded a bit ridiculous -- it included the words "happy dance" next to something very scientific -- and I was told by my friends to take it out. I felt strongly about it (for whatever reason, I felt it was "me") -- so I left it in. I got the fellowship. I have no idea if "happy dance" was the thing that pushed me over the edge for getting the award, or if it was one straw away from breaking the camel's back on my application -- but it didn't keep me from getting it. I guess I would say, if you have something positive in your application that you think makes it stand out a bit (in a good way -- I knew others who tried to "stand out" by simply stating that "they weren't like all the other robots in the field"), stay true to yourself and keep it in.
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