Sunday, May 8, 2011

University of Wisconsin-Madison Visit!

Finally, the long awaited University of Wisconsin-Madison post!

My dad and I drove to Madison on Monday. On the way we stopped at a restaurant/shop (big sign that said "CHEESE" was visible from the highway... common theme for the rest of our visit) and Dad bought some mead. No idea why - I think he thought it was something else.

I noticed lots of sign for CHEESE and porn, which I thought was interesting. Cheese I get - Wisconsin and their happy cows. But porn? I guess Wisconsinians need something to do after they admire their cows and eat cheese. ;)

(Hey, no offense to my Wisconsin friends. I love you and I know you love me, which is why I make fun of you. Yeah.)

When we arrived at Madison, what became immediately apparent was (a) the large number of Mexican restaurants and (b) the capital. All streets lead to the capital! All hail the capital! It's pretty cute, actually. The capital is in the middle and surrounding it are restaurants and shops.

We stayed at the Hyatt Place, which I highly recommend. The rooms had an interesting set up. The sleeping area was slightly separated from the lounging/studying/eating area, which had a mini fridge. The closet was in an odd place, though. Tucked away and not very accessible. But the pool was nice! Nothing like a dip after a long car ride. I finally used my Kodak Playsport underwater and it worked very well. Only downside was that the microphone quality goes way down because of the water. But after it dries its works fine. Dad has trouble getting into the water, hence the antics which actually went on for a couple minutes but don't worry, I edited most of it out.

We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant. We both had spaghetti and meatballs. SO MUCH SPAGHETTI. By the time I felt full it looked like I barely ate anything. Of course, Dad ate it all and I was so stressed out. I thought he would pop.

Monday morning we had a complementary breakfast  and took a complementary shuttle to the campus. We sneaked into an earlier info session/tour. The guy leading the info session was nice. At first I thought it was odd that he should lead it, since he kept talking about all these great things (sports, clubs, etc) and then he said he never tried any of them. But maybe he was trying to get across that there are many different types of students at the school.

Then we went on the tour. Oh, the tour. It was nearly 2 hours and FREEZING COLD. I was not dressed properly. SO COLD. And wet. Our tour guide was very upbeat despite the weather and she managed to keep us indoors enough so that it was bearable. Guess what? They have a CHEESE museum on campus... oh the hilarity. I wish we could have visited.

The campus architecture is interesting, much more diverse and pleasing than the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. I like the campus itself. It's all in one place, while the U of M is spread out over three locations.

The classes for the first 1-2 years are big. 100-400 students, plus discussions led by TAs. I don't like big classes, so that's one main reason why I'm not going. In terms of academics, I think the school is fairly impressive. There is plenty of research going on and once you get into advanced courses, the class size goes way down.

I think the University of Wisconsin has a greater reputation on the East Coast than the University of Minnesota. I heard a history professor at the U of M explain that 60 or so years ago the U of W let in more Jews than the U of M and he thinks the connection/preference still lingers. There is a large Jewish population at the U of W (5000+ students).

After the freezing cold tour, our guide gave us coupons for their homemade ice cream shop (thanks but no thanks!). Dad and I left via the Badger Cab, which carries multiple passengers. We think our cab driver has rotting gums because every time he talked, our cab got stinkier and stinkier! It smelled so bad. Almost lost my appetite....  but not quite.

For lunch we went to the Old Fashioned. I ordered my first hamburger in over SEVEN YEARS! (I recently became un-vegetarian.) It was good. Overall the food in Madison is good, but as they say good is the enemy of great. Certainly nothing compared to Boston food... drool.

After eating lunch Dad and I headed home. I drove for the first 2-3 hours. It was so scary. The weather was awful. Snow, rain, sleet, ice, high speed winds, massive lightening bolts half a mile away. The road was very slippery and every time a truck rolled past it kicked up gobs of icy slush. But it was a good experience. I need to drive more.

Hope you enjoyed this summary of my visit to Madison. Please comment with any questions!


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