Week 4: Life outside of lab
To go home, or not to go home, that is the question. Well, at least for me it was a question. When you are in college, summers are a great time to explore new places and gather new experiences. My freshman advisor told me that if I wanted to do any meaningful research, i needed to find a lab in Cambridge to work at this summer and every summer thereafter. As a rising sophomore, at Harvard, I wasn’t quite ready to accept his advice. Much to his probable dismay, I decided (after a tough first year at college) that, I wanted to do research in my hometown of San Diego, California. I am incredibly happy with my decision.
San Diego is a big, bustling city that has a wide variety of components – beach communities, multiple "downtown"-like areas, university campuses, etc. Moreover, LA and Hollywood are just an hour and a half ride away (and yes that includes Disneyland).
different areas surround University of California San Diego (UCSD), where I work. For example, La Jolla is a ritzy neighborhood filled with well-dressed millionaires, while fifteen minutes down the road is Mission Beach, where bikinis and tattoos abound along the beach. Lastly, Mexico merely an hour’s drive away from San Diego. The opportunities, both professional and just for fun, are never-ending.
Whenever you plan on spending concentrated amounts of time in an area while working in a lab, it is always smart to think about where you are doing that research. If you are someone who is easily distracted from work (as in, if there is anything to do in a 50 mile radius, you will never be in the lab), perhaps you should work in a “boring” city so as to concentrate on your work. However, if you, like me, see summer research as an adventure, take the time to go somewhere, old or new, where you can explore new things and have a life outside of the lab! One of my fellow students is brilliant in the lab, but she also plays pick up soccer games after work and attends hip-hop dance classes. Balance in life is definitely a good thing.
The West Coast is such a different atmosphere than the East Coast – everyone used to tell me that before I went to college, but I never believed them until I actually went to the East Coast. For me, California is much more relaxed, containing an air of comfortability . Meanwhile, Boston is more frantic, with buzzing business and no nonsense attitudes. Each has its benefits for a summer research internship, but for me, California was the right choice. It wasn’t an easy choice, but it was the right one.