’n’ Things

A seemingly random compilation of web bits

University Impressions: Davis 25.4.06

On the 22nd, I visited UC Davis. This entry’s a little late, but I needed a few days to recover (can you say long-ass drive?).

First, the city of Davis: it’s in the middle of nowhere, but that doesn’t bother me (guess where I live? – right, middle of nowhere). It’s an interesting city in that about half of its residents are from the campus, and it’s psycho-liberal-enviro-whatever. They are so big on keeping out large retail chains and what not that they even voted down a Trader Joe’s, which is the darling child of enviro people. Weird. Oh, and, bikes – this is the bike capital of the U.S., having an average of two bicycles per person (hrm), being the place where bike lanes were invented, and now being the place where bicycle signals are in use. If you’re a cyclophobe, don’t come here.

The 22nd was Picnic Day, which is a sort of city-wide celebration of all things quirky about Davis and the campus. Too many things happened that day for me to put into one post, but it was a very fun and interesting day, filled with such oddities as really really old tractors, a marching band from UCSD, a chemistry magic show, and a wiener dog race.

The campus is beautiful – the best-looking UC campus I’ve seen. Ironically, the city is rather dismal-looking, because of small, old, crowded houses, uncontrolled shrubbery, and too much moisture in the air which makes all the wooden stuff have that nasty soaked look. The campus, on the other hand, is mostly gorgeous modern design, and is laid out with wide-open spaces and lots of nice trees, and there’s a beautiful arboretum that rivals the best parks one can find.

I was rather disappointed when I say the biological systems engineering exhibit though – they had things like various packaging for tomatoes and demonstrations of agriculture equipment. I talked to two professors there, noting that I wanted to work in biotech, and the way they described things didn’t sit too well with me. They talked about packaging things and making greenhouses and that kind of stuff – I want to work with E. coli and restriction enzymes and mitochondrial DNA and all that good stuff, not mess with cardboard packaging. I’ve looked on their website, and their course list closely matches San Diego’s, but somehow it seems like they still have a very different emphasis, which is not surprising, since Davis is an agricultural area.

I have less than a week to choose which school to go to, and while Davis is a great school, it doesn’t seem to have quite what I want academically, and the city has a kind of fascist attitude to it that I don’t think I’ll be able to handle. It’s too bad I can’t take the campus of UC Davis and pick it up and move it over to UC San Diego.

San Diego, here I come?