This week, we are discussing how our first impression of the REU matches/clashes with our previous expectation. Here are my thoughts…
Living in Iowa, only 2.5 hours away from Menomonie, I admit I wasn’t very surprised to see the city and surrounding scenery. I mean, if you only cut the population down by about 95%, replaced the buildings with cornfields, the forests with cornfields, Lake Menomin with cornfields, and got rid of any remaining scenery, you’d basically have my hometown. Perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration (I’m sure we have a bean or hay field somewhere in Iowa as well)… On a more serious note, I am very happy to be studying in such a beautiful region. Despite being raised in the Midwest, I feel Wisconsin offers an entirely unique scenic experience.
Regarding the workload for this REU, I expected to be in over my head right away, despite previous email conversations that attempted to reassure me otherwise. I pictured arriving on the first day to hear other students discussing their hours of preliminary research they had prepared (and everyone had glasses and carried around a notepad). I calmed down after meeting everybody and realizing we were all normal undergraduate students, feeling the same mixture of excitement and uncertainty for what the future held.
It felt good when we got past the first day or two of program technicalities and finally got to work. My partner and I are doing ethnographic work, so this week felt a bit slow as we went around practicing our interviewing skills on the unsuspecting people of Menomonie (mooahaha). I’m sure it will speed up as we start scheduling real interviews. I still can’t clearly see the end product of my work this summer, but I am sure it will unfold itself as I go. (Insert cliché about the importance of the journey, not the destination).
That’s all for now. Until next week!