grad school

February 23rd, 2009 by Jeff Leave a reply »

I think I’ve almost settled into grad school. I really enjoy tossing ideas back and forth with my fellow students, though at times I feel out of place: about half are from India, half from China, and there a handful of white guys like me hanging in there. I still feel ahead of the curve, but only slightly. My friend Monica says I should have gone to Berkeley, where coincidentally much of the current ECE research is being done, and perhaps she’s right. But I’m not sure if I’d be able to keep up there. Maybe for a PhD, someday, when I can think up clever things to write papers about. I need to prove myself first, prove that I really do belong. But school certainly makes a lot more sense now than it ever did as an undergrad. I needed those years in Japan to get my motivation straight, to allow me to really extract the most from my university experience. It’s like an idea bakery here, all the smells of genius and burnt failure mingling together in an inseparable melange. But when it all comes to a head in a couple years, spending the rest of my life locked away in industry is still no more appealing than it was five years ago.

Most days I feel as if I’m in the right place, but every once in awhile, like today, I’ll look back at things and it seems as if my soul is in a thousand pieces, scattered to the four winds. I took a swig of liquid courage and made a phone call back to the board of education to take care of some paperwork, and chatting with native speakers brought me right back to that point in my life… minus a few forgotten words here and there. I didn’t stutter too much. But days like this make me wonder if there are two people fighting inside my skull for control of my life. One wants to follow the logical path of my strengths as an engineer, while the other says I should give that up and go do something, anything in Japan. I’m in my element here, I’m in my element there. The real world says I have to pick one or the other. Maybe I need a door number three.


  1. Michelle says:

    So you like grad school so far? Why didn’t you go to Berkeley? I just found out today that I got rejected from them… lol.. anyway.. i like your blog. it’s really awesome… and doing a fantastic job of distracting me from studying for my Ch3 Japanese test tomorrow.

  2. Mom says:

    Would door number three be an engineering position that has travel in Japan as part of the job?

  3. Lin says:

    Hey man, you are one of the most thoughtful guys I have ever met. Believe in yourself~
    (I really enjoy discussing over your experiences in Japan~lol)

  4. gretchen says:

    If doors one and two are each one side of a set of french doors, I think you have your answer! Too bad most of the time our doors come out of something more resembling the Winchester Mystery House than a nice, orderly architectural drawing.

    Have you decided on what you’ll be focusing your research on in grad school?

  5. Aileen says:

    Funny, I considered UC Berkeley (not for ECE, of course) and came to the same conclusions you did.

    I am nervous about grad school, so it’s very encouraging to hear your positive experiences. The negative feelings are informative, too.

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