PSU Stats Recruitment Day

Five years into a statistics program and I’m still shocked at my decision to go down this path. Switching fields going into my PhD was daunting and I’ve spoken before about how was convinced to turn Full Stats Stud during my visit to the programs recruitment day. Since then I’ve helped out with each batch of prospective students as they too are welcomed to Happy Valley and introduced to what earning a PhD in Statistics here could mean for them. I want to share these experiences and a little bit of what’s going on behind the curtain for our readers. If you are be going through a similar process, here’s one look at what a recruitment day looks like and what to expect. We’d also love to hear from others about their experiences as this process varies GREATLY between departments and universities!

In PSU Statistics, we invite domestic students that already have offers to our PhD program to come to campus for a day of information and fun. These students already have been accepted and we hope to convince them that they’ll find a great environment for spending the next 4-6+ years. Not all recruitment events happen after offers go out, and that could make for a more stressful visit. Even visiting a department you do have an offer for can be extremely intimidating. I know I am STILL intimidated sometimes! But one of the most important tips I have is to remember that you have worked hard and earned a spot! They should be working hard to impress you and be showcasing what their program has to offer.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Pokémon Collection in National Parks

Pokémon Go, made available for download in America on July 6, 2016 (and adding new countries every day!) enables collection, training, and battling of the first 150 Pokémon. Individual Pokémon collection and observation is now possible, and Pokémon trainers will be venturing into their communities and the wilds that surround them in record numbers as they strive to catch ‘em all. By virtue of collecting and learning about (albeit augmented, virtual) animals, people will also rediscover their attraction to the natural world. Through Pokémon Go, trainers will develop a keen eye for their surroundings, patience for tracking, quick thinking in anticipation of Pokémon behaviors.  And what better place for young and old alike to hone their PokéSkills but the expansive wilderness of America’s greatest natural treasure, the National Park system.

The iconic U.S. National Parks have provided access to both nature and natural sciences to visitors for 100 years. Combined annual attendance to these natural wonders registers at a whopping 305 million people each year, attracting visitors from all over the world. Our National Parks span the landscape of the United States and her territories, ranging from the remote reaches of Alaska to the bustling east coast parks, like Shenandoah-a quick drive from several major cities-and hop entire oceans to appear in far pacific lands like Hawaii, American Samoa, and Guam. Sometimes, these parks pack a hefty admission fee, up to $30 in some of the most famous parks. The fees go toward necessary maintenance and upkeep of the most pristine natural environments in the country, preserving the experience for the next generation of visitors. Don’t be scared by the entry fees; reasonably priced annual passes and special free events can make access extremely affordable!  In fact, I planned a trip to Shenandoah National Park this past weekend for both my sister and me as a respite from the rigors of academia. However, once we got the news dropped of the long-awaited Pokemon Go release, our plans quickly adapted to incorporate some Pokemon collecting into our adventure.

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A quick entrance photo at the North Entrance Gate PokéGym.

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I Say Edinburgh, You Say…

I have not posted in quite some time now and I know exactly the moments to blame. I’ve decided that the best way to explain this event is via a comparison to Mario Kart, everyone’s favorite Nintendo themed racing game. Periodically during the race your character (in my case, Peach or Daisy) will encounter boost strips in a certain area of the path. If you can manage to get your kart over to pass overtop the strip, you’ll get a short boost of speed, so hopefully you can pass up your siblings for the win. I somehow managed to navigate myself to a fabulous CouchSurfing festival in Edinburgh and was given a giant burst of speed and excitement! Edinburgh Rocks 7 opened my eyes to a whole new side of the CS experience!

 I have already written about how I enjoy staying both in hostels and with couchsurfers, but even when I’m in a hostel, I like to check the community page for the area where I’m staying. Here, any member can post localized messages or events. I usually check to see if there’s a weekly meet-up or interesting event, but imagine my surprise when I found not one cool event, but a whole weekend of planned festivities! There was even a discussion thread devoted to hosts for festival goers and I was immediately offered a place to stay for the duration!  
The festival was very well planned,with plenty of time for chatting up and getting to know everyone involved (pub meet-ups, speed friending, BBQ, Scottish breakfast) amid the more intricate events (ceilidh, Highland games, scavenger hunt, talent show, free hugs, movie night). My excitement began with a night of ceilidh (apparently pronounced “kay-lee” – hhhmm). What is ceilidh, you ask? I wondered the same. As far as I could tell when the night was over it’s a Scottish Gaelic word for ‘intense evening of crazy folk dancing during which you will sweat, laugh, fear for your life, be stepped on, and enjoy every bit’. I was hooked and attended every single event during the festival. Between competing on Clan Highlanders and winning the scavenger hunt with Team LIFIA in an epic talent show tie breaker, I developed several friendships and learned about people from all over. And those new relationships are what propelled my adventures into overdrive. 
I received several offers of couches to visit during my journey.  Another American traveller and I followed two fellow Rockers (and Clansmen!) to Newcastle where we continued the fun times. From there I met back up with another new Edinburgh friend in Manchester and we spent four wild days backpacking and mountain hiking in Snowdonia national park. Then back to Newcastle for a killer electro pop show featuring Static Soul, my host’s flatmate’s band. A night of wild dancing with some of the loveliest Gordies before early morning buses to Glastonbury festival where another friend (this time from home) had procured production and stage passes for me for the last day. Somehow my most relaxing day in nearly three weeks was spent backstage watching Vampire Weekend and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds rock the main stage before enjoying some whiskey and Mumford & Sons from the dressing room area with several lovely characters. 
Are you exhausted from just reading that last bit? I’m tired from just reliving it all as I typed! I still can not believe how just one weekend can shape so much of my trip. Even now, weeks later, I am heading to Amsterdam to join back up with the same traveller that came too to Newcastle and later I hope to meet up with another in Budapest. So many thanks are due to so many people for their hard work, generosity, and friendship. This is only one of many CS camps, festivals, and other major events that are hosted through the summers. I will be on the constant look out for others and hope to return again eventually for another Edinburgh Rocks! 
Question of the Day:
What has been your most pleasant surprise event while traveling?