Sunday, March 31, 2013

Road to PhD: Looking and researching schools

It's been exactly one month, two weeks, and three days since I arrived here in the Philippines from South Korea. And the whole time, I was just staying here in the house. It's already a long vacation. Time is precious and I need a job now. I need to do something while planning for something big for my future. I am in dire need of a job but it seems like what I'm looking for is not interested in me. I already applied in six job openings in IRRI, the place where I used to work. I was interviewed in the first one but only up to that stage; didn't hear anything for the next three; found out that someone was already picked for the fifth; and still waiting up to now for the sixth. I even went there to personally talk to some scientists, the first said he could only offer me a temporary position and suggested to look for other regular positions first, the second one was like, "Nah, just give me your contact info and we'll just inform you if there's an opening." It was depressing and I feel like IRRI doesn't want to have me back anymore. And then suddenly, I realized I'm that type of person who goes/stays from one place to another and doesn't usually go back. That's kind of my "silent rule". If I work back in IRRI, it's like I'm breaking it. But I have no choice. All I need right now is to have a job, earn some money, and save for my future endeavor.

This afternoon, instead of finding jobs in the internet, I spent my time researching different graduate schools in the US - that, ladies and gentlemen, is my future endeavor. Of course, attending a university in the United States of America entails a lot of preparation. First and foremost, I need to secure good scores for GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Then the other requirements, such as transcript of records, diploma, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, personal statement, application form, etc. I am eyeing a place with---of course, safety is the number one priority; then climate, with mild winters and cool summers; an environment conducive for studying with a less stressful student life; and good funding for research. I would like to study stem cells and California is highly supporting stem cell research. Two universities in mind - Stanford and UC Berkeley. Stanford, no doubt, has good Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine PhD program with astounding faculty. UC Berkeley on the other hand, well I am actually targeting Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) program. I was reading and getting all information in their MCB program and I felt like it's more homey because I majored in cell and molecular biology during my undergraduate years. UC Berkeley's MCB tackles different aspects under cell and molecular biology but, at the same time, it also gives an opportunity to study stem cells (though not as specialized as Stanford's Stem Cell Program). Anyway, just browsing and reading the site, it's really making me happy and giving me hope. Here's a video of what graduate education's like at UC Berkeley.

Well, it's still a long way to go. A lot of preparation should be made. And I'm still looking at other programs and universities, you know, just to be sure, just to compare. I even tried looking at Harvard! Gosh! But as of now, I can say there's a lukso ng dugo (sense of connection) with UC Berkeley. Let's see what will happen.

Ooops, but before all that, I really need to get a job. Sixth job opening, please be kind to me... And I better start reviewing for GRE and TOEFL.

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