Suzuki (left), me (middle), and my roommate Maritza (right)
Cookie hour happens once a week. All the undergraduate computer science researchers are piled in a room with cookies and left there. After the initial awkward five minutes (which are spent in silence while everyone stares at their hands) we usually talk about books or movies, and occassionally about specifics of each other's research.
Across the hall
Suzuki and Sharlita (pictured below) work in the office across the hall
from me. They are here for summmer research programs also. Sharlita
and I go to lunch together almost every day. Suzuki goes downstairs with
me to the coffee lounge every morning.
A&M has a huge recreation center. I mostly go to use the aerobics
machines, but the rec center also has indoor rock climbing, racketball
courts, and an indoor and outdoor pool. The outdoor pool has an
artificial current that travels around its perimeter, so you can lie on
one of the rafts they provide and float in circles. The students at A&M say that sometimes the former president, George Bush Sr., visits the recreation center when he comes to town to spend time at the George Bush Library. I keep watching for someone surrounded by men in black sweatsuits with little radios in their ears, but I haven't seen him yet.
We all took a practice GRE test to help us prepare for the real one. The verbal part was harder than I expected. There were words on the test that I've never seen in my life. Mawkish? What the heck is Mawkish? A&M has also been kind enough to pay for us to go to some GRE classes, where experts give us hints and describe useful techniques. I found the workshop on reading comprehension especially useful. I learned that the reading comprehension questions on the GRE focus more on the author of the passage than on the facts within the passage. In other words, it's not what the author says that is important, but how he/she says it.
Ge Xia, my graduate student mentor, took my roommate and me to a restaurant about 20 minutes from College Station called Czech Tex. The food was very good and the steaks were enormous. The menu didn't specify the steak sizes by ounces - instead, you picked from small, medium, or large, and they cut the steaks in the back. I think in this case, "small" really meant large and "large" really meant "way too big for one person to eat." Since the restaurant had a Czechoslovakian theme, there were some unusual menu items like fried pickles, sausage with sauerkraut, and schnitzel. I would definitely like to go back there before this program is over.
George Bush Library
My roommate and I went to see the George Bush Library, located near campus. I was expecting to see books and other library-type things, but the public was only allowed to go into the museum area. It was a little startling to be stopped by a small army of security people as we entered , and we had to pass through a metal detector. Residents of College Station say the security is not always so strict going in, but that sometimes George Bush and other important people visit the library. Maybe someone was in the private part of the library that day, who knows. We viewed the exhibit on Barbara Bush and watched a short film about the life of the President and his family. It was pretty neat to see them all when they were younger.