30 March 2010

Siracusan foray

Well, now that I've had some time to catch my breath after my couch-surfing excursion to Syracuse this past weekend (which was the welcome weekend for prospective grads at the Maxwell School) I can start writing a bit about it. It was a fairly long trip, by train there and by bus back (the train having been delayed six hours). When I got into Syracuse, I was picked up by my host student, Andrea, and her significant-other Karsten, and immediately taken to a party which uncannily resembled an undergraduate party (complete with drinking games and mixed drinks of dubious origin and composition). I quickly found, though, that the students were a congenial and welcoming group on the whole - not just at the party, but afterward as well (when we finally got back to Andrea's flat, which she shared with three other students).

Friday I spent up on the main campus, at the Maxwell complex (second photo down). I admit to being impressed with the school - it was set a bit apart from the rest of Syracuse, but they had some cool old buildings (and newer ones which looked like bunkers, in the brutalist 1960's reinforced concrete - but I'm used to those, since I did go to Classical High School for a year). The Maxwell staff in charge of the welcome weekend were very welcoming indeed; they fed us and then gave us a few lectures / forums / q-and-a sessions with staff and current students. I was a bit surprised, though, to find that the Washington schools were not held in very high repute there - though their Washington semester (which they do in concert with U Pitt-GSPIA and a couple of other schools) was very highly touted.

The campus felt very Midwestern in character (even though New York State is kind of a bridge between the Mid-Atlantic East Coast and the Midwest, and where Syracuse lies between those regions, loosely-defined, really depends on whom you ask). There was a lot of emphasis on the student community, which was readily apparent. The students were very helpful and eager to talk about their projects - though for much of the weekend we were just kind of goofing off together (which is fine too), they assured me that they did do a substantial amount of work. In all, I was strongly reminded of the Kalamazoo College student body. That might be an endorsement, but I keep hearing that master's programmes are not undergraduate programmes, and what I should look for should be, to some extent, much different. The Washington schools are still in the running for me, since they have the greatest opportunity for internships, building professional skills and finding job offers in my area - but they are also significantly more expensive.

Some photos I took of the campus:

The train station at Albany-Rensselaer, where I spent a good portion of my trip inland

The downhill view from the Maxwell Complex - not taken from the best time of day, I'm afraid

A side shot of the famous statue of Honest Abe in the Maxwell courtyard, with Tolley Hall's orange brick in the background

Evening shot of nearby Lyman Hall

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