The last months have been quite hectic here. As many of you know, I have finally decided to go for a PhD degree from a prestigious university once my contract at ESA is over. I don't really consider the idea of continuing in the Netherlands at ESTEC for the moment. I think 2 years will be a nice experience and will open many possibilities to come back in the future. However, I still feel I could continue studying a bit more and get a PhD in some place where it is really well considered. This allows only two possibilities: US and Japan.
Both possibilities are attractive. The Japanese case is the most interesting from a personal point of view and the American case would be challenging and kind of a dream. In the last half a year I have been getting contacts and getting information. In the case of Japan, last Xmas, I visited the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in concrete, Prof Ando's antenna laboratory. They are doing very interesting stuff and I would be really motivated for the projects he presented to me. I will start the application next fall, for an eventual starting date of September 2008.
The American case is a bit more complex. To apply for a scholarship to go study in the US, it is necessary to start in spring the previous year. For that, I applied for the Fulbright Scholarship in Spain last March. I took the TOEFL exam and I scored 115 out of 120 in TOEFL iBT. Thanks to a good application and this good result in TOEFL, I was contacted in early May by the people from the Fulbright Commision in Madrid to urge me on applying for an international scholarship. This one is more serious and it is given directly by the US government. This year, there will be 25 scholarships for people all over the world and they mean full funding of the PhD up to 5 years and the warranty of studying in one of the most prestigious universities. To apply for this scholarship, I had to take some medical check-ups and the GRE test. Actually, I took the GRE yesterday morning in Amsterdam! And now I am really happy! This test is composed of 3 parts: analytical writing, verbal ability and quantitative analysis. The first one consists of analyzing one topic giving your opinion on it and trying to make your essay logically sound and later, you are provided with a logical reasoning and you have to analyze if it makes sense and detect all the possible flaws. The verbal part consists of a test of 40 questions in 30 minutes such as anthonyms, relations between pairs of words, filling in the gaps and text analysis. This section is specially famous amongst foreigners for being particularly difficult: it is an English test for English speakers! It is said not to be really considered by universities in the selection process. Anyway, I scored 640 out of 800 in this part, which is actually quite nice! The last part, the quantitative section is mathematics and there i did really well! 800 out of 800! That's why I am happy. Now I have to wait for the essay grades and the application is over.
My idea is I will try to go to the best universities in Microwave Engineering and Electromagnetics: California Institute of Technology, Ohio State University, University of California- Los Angeles or MIT. If I cannot enter one of those, I will go to Japan.
Well, those are my plans for the long or middle term. For these next weeks it is simpler. Day after tomorrow, I will go to Assen, to the Cathedral of motorcycling, to see the MotoGP races. I hope Pedrosa can finally win for the first time this year!! And next week, I will go to the US to make a 12-day tour in the East Coast together with Naoko. We will visit New York, Chicago and Washington, and if possible, some friends from ISU (Gayle and Zack). I can't wait!!!