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UPenn BMB and Philadelphia vs. Hopkins BCMB and Baltimore


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Any advice would be greatly appreciated! 

I'm deciding between the biochemistry/molecular biophysics program at UPenn and the biochemistry (BCMB) program at Johns Hopkins. My issue is this: I feel as though I like the Hopkins program better (more researchers I'm immediately interested in from the faculty page [10 or so here vs. 3ish at Penn], more students, more professional development opportunities), though that isn't to say that I don't love the BMB program at Penn (I do like that there's a little more biophysics in this program). However, when it comes to cities, I really love Philadelphia and I'm less keen on Baltimore, although I think it would be fun to try to live in for a bit. People (grad students and faculty) at both programs seem very down to earth, happy to be there, nice, and encouraging, and both programs have a great community of structural biologists. 

Based on this, how much should I prioritize the city I'm living in vs. the program itself, or vice versa? Thanks in advance!

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I'm currently a student in Hopkins BCMB and I have nothing but positive things to say about the program. Living in Baltimore has been an incredible experience for me because it is very different from the area I grew up. I feel it gives me a better perspective on the world. Also, the food, arts, and music scenes in Baltimore are amazing, and very cheap. Do you live on the east coast? I would recommend visiting both places again to get a better feel. You can definitely email the admissions directors for each program and say you want to visit again. They can usually set you up with current students to show you around the city for a weekend and even arrange for you to meet with additional faculty if you can go on a weekday. 


I also had kind of an unusual situation, where my PI moved from Hopkins to U Penn in the middle of my PhD. I liked Hopkins and my program so much though that I actually stayed in Baltimore. I thought a lot about this, and my final decision came down to the fact that I thought the research environment at Hopkins was more stimulating for my interests and the network of people was so supportive that I would be taken care of no matter what struggles came from being in a "long distance relationship" with my PI. I'd be happy to talk more if you want to message me, but I also recommend you get in contact with the deans of admission and potentially arrange another visit. 

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