Farväl till Sverige

(Hint: Use a Swedish > English translator ;-)

Okay, so to everybody I left in the dark over the past few weeks, I'm sorry about that. A lot has come up, and it's just taken a while to sort through it. Now that I've gotten it all figured out (and posted on FB about it :-P), I figure I should give an explanation, so here it goes.

Back in the fall, I applied to the Electrical Engineering international master's program at The Royal Institute in Sweden (KTH for short) on the advice of a prof who works with Cal Poly's CPE department. Now, my rough 2-year plan currently was to work for two years, then go back to grad school in the fall of 2011, wherever that may be. Well, Dr. Smith persuaded me to apply, since A) tuition is free, at least for 2010-2011 (yay socialism!) B) you can always reapply if you reject and probably get in again and C) come on, it's Sweden, that's awesome! I did all the paper work and then mailed (yea, not too advanced) the forms to Sweden and waited for-EVER (like 6 months) for a response.

Well two weeks ago, I checked my iPod one morning before I went to the dentist. To my amazement (it wasn't May yet, which was when I was expecting a response), I had a note from the head of the admissions department for one of the two programs I applied to at KTH. It went as follows:

Dear Matthew,
You are one of the top candidates for our Masters programme System on Chip Design and I have just forwarded the result of 52 (the highest score) into the database.
I hope you will be able to attend the programme in the coming fall. The admission e-mail will be sent out in the beginning of May.

As I sat there eating my cereal and watching CNN, in my mind all I could think of was two words: "Holy shit!" TOP of the group? Man, I'd be an idiot NOT to go. Of course I gabbed all about it to the dentist (kinda hard with a tube stuck in your mouth) and she of course thought it was awesome. But then I stopped myself, and I thought, "Better take it easy Matt, gotta think this through logically..."

Around the same time, I got a great response to my Craigslist ad about a place for rent. I threw up an ad waaaay early (my lease isn't up til July) just to see what people were looking for. I've determined based on my results that 90% of people don't read the ad at ALL, which was very specific, but whatever, it was an experience. I was just about to pull it and redo the description so that I could post it later in June, when Tara sent me an email about a great house she had that was in need of a 5th roomie. After visiting on Friday, a day after my KTH letter, I was convinced that it was the place for me.

Yes I know, it's strange how it parallels my college housing situ, but that's just how it turns out. I'd be living with three girls (one of whom is Nickie, just like my old roomie Nikki, who is surely reading this right now) and one guy. I'd be in a huge master bedroom, which is good, since I've allotted a ton of stuff since moving into my own place. I wanted to move in with people because I found living on my own was just not as great as it used to be. I guess I've become quite a bit more social since my Freshman year at Poly ;-) Everyone seemed real down-to-earth, and none of them were engineers, which is how I like it. I don't want to about tech stuff 24-7, although I'm sure some people think I'm like that. It's also nice to have a larger group of people to live with, since you can guarantee someone usually will want to go out or just chill on the weekends, so you always have either option.


Well, armed with all this great news in two days, I had to make a decision. Luckily, I'm pretty good at that, although this one was going to be a little tougher. Tara wanted to know in about two weeks whether I was in, and unfortunately I still hadn't gotten my official letters from KTH. Even so, I was already leaning towards staying here in the Bay, but before I said anything aloud, I spent the whole weekend drawing up Pro/Con charts trying to figure it all out (yea I know, I'm a J, deal with it) And the result? Not doing Sweden.

The main things going for KTH were that it was free (for one year) and it's a chance for me to finally have that lifetime adventure that I feel everyone always needs to have. Then again, I'm going to Europe this fall anyways for a month-long adventure, plus I felt like getting lots of new roomies could be like a "mini adventure" right here. That and of course all the logistics, selling and moving my life there, saving up enough money to go, yada yada, although none of these were the real reason that swayed me.

See, ever since I've graduated, I haven't been sure what I've wanted to do for grad school. Being smart, I'm good at a lot of things within my major, so it's been hard picking one thing I like. However, I'm determined to find something I'm passionate about, something that I obsessive over in my field, and research that. Up until my trip to SLO, I still wasn't quite sure what that was. All my grad school essays were kind of vague and I never really knew of any professors at colleges who had "research interests" that matched mine.

Well, after talking to my buddy Ryan down in SLO (thanks again man), I got my idea: sustainability. Of course, I've been into the green movement ever since Braun introduced it to me in my ICs class junior year. But I've realized that since then, I've made "being green" a real integral part of my life, recycling all the time, turning off my AC in the car, biking to/from work whenever I can, reusing bags, etc etc... Seems like a passion right? That, and I could see myself studying green-related topics and actually having fun in class. Now, I've written stuff about this in my essays, but again it's mainly been a hodgepodge of buzzwords with no real direction. For Ryan, who's an EE going into power, he has the whole renewable energy field to work with. I want to get my master's in EE, but even so, I like my CPE background too much to go into power, so I'm hoping to find something sustainability-oriented dealing with computer hardware. (Hopefully chips since I really liked Braun's class too)

That's my new goal: research colleges and professors who are doing sustainable research and find one that interests me and apply. I feel much better now knowing I have a goal that I can strive for. I don't want to do college apps for a third time, but I'll deal with it.

Back to the question of Sweden, my decision mainly hung on what the research the program had available. I mean, this isn't just a semester abroad, this is my whole graduate career! I checked the ratings of the school and, sure, it's middle-of-the-road as far as engineering schools, but there are a lot more US schools (many I've gotten into before) that are way above. And if they weren't doing research in an area that I wanted to move my career towards, then I wasn't going to have any of that.

In the end, I couldn't find any good info on their site about sustainability research, so I assumed that it wasn't a major topic there. Eventually, I emailed the director of the program over at KTH and got a response quite a bit later (I was so sure of the answer, I went ahead and signed a lease with Tara and the gang) and sure enough, she just pointed me to some vague sites about other degrees they have. Too bad. It sounded pretty cool, but in the end I let it go.

In the meantime, like I said above, I signed up to live in the house, and I'm excited for July! I think it will be fun having roomies again. Then who knows, in a year, I may be going to school in the Bay or somewhere else in the US. We'll just have to wait and see how it goes. Oh yea, and it's the beginning of May and I still don't have any "official" admissions letters yet from Sweden. What's up guys?

That's my marathon two weeks. Feel free to tell me "You're crazy!" for not going to Sweden, but my mind is made up. Plan on having me around Cali for another year.

Alright, laters guys, I'll try and post a little more often...gotta bunch of other random news to share, but that's for another time.



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