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Peter Rindt - Graduation Project Princeton

Graduation Project in Princeton, USA
Report by Peter Rindt. Powered by FuseNet

For my graduation I went to the USA to do a project at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). In the report below, I give you a small compilation of what was most important to me in this great trip!

     1. Preparation and financial matters

One thing is clear when you are visiting the US for the first time: Start your preparation in time! I started roughly six months in advance, which was more than enough. Why would you need all this time?

1) Visa application: this can be quite messy. A good starting point is your host institution. Their international office usually starts the application procedure, and helps you on the way. Despite their help though, some detective work will still be needed, and also waiting time can stretch out the procedure.

2) Funding: apply in time! Time to process funding request can take even more time than applying for a visa. Especially Fulbright, a US based commission, requires you to apply very far in advance, close to a year. Otherwise of course I was able to get a good amount of funding from FuseNet, which helped a lot!

     2. Accommodation

Princeton will not provide for housing for exchange students that do not pay tuition to the university. There is however a very good website.  Through this website I was able to find a good room in no time. Do expect much higher prices than in the Netherlands though. $750-1000 is not uncommon at all.

When searching through Craigslist, be very much aware of frauds. Always skype, or have someone you known in Princeton check the house, before making large deposits.

     3. Language and Culture

As you can imagine most people speak English here. However, also a lot of people speak Spanish in Princeton, especially some locals. Following a Spanish course might be both fun and useful.

Also typically American: restaurants are not scarce in Princeton, if you don’t want to cook you can always get some takeout for a reasonable price, ~$10. Hunan (Asian/Vietnamese food) is the best place for $5 lunch specials. There is one supermarket in town. A Princeton bus goes to a larger mall every Saturday. But in case you are staying for longer than half a year, it might be very useful to get a car.

     4. Free time and Traveling

A car is also useful for traveling. Only New York is really accessible through public transport.  A bus leaves from the town center (Palmer Square), and also a train leaves from the campus. If you don’t have any money for a car, plenty of students do have a car! Make some friends and you can go on fun road trips together! Also this will lead you to some fun places that you will never see otherwise! Such as the Asian/Cuban place hidden somewhere in NY.

     5. Contents of my project

My project was more of a development/design project than a research project. I carried it out in collaboration with the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). They took excellent care of facilities (desk, etc), and also provided excellent supervision. I would recommend anyone in this field to visit here if possible. What I liked most is that the project I did at PPPL was very real. I.e. the design I made will actually be used on the fusion reactor at the lab, and are not just an exercise for a student to do.

The topic of the project was to develop a new lithium divertor for the National Spherical Torus Experiment Upgrade (NSTX-U). I concluded with a conceptual design, which was successfully reviewed by the NSTX-U team. This was also a great preparation for my thesis defense.

     6. My best experience

My best experience was finding six new friends in the home that I stayed in. I highly recommend living in a house such as this, together with fellow students. Especially celebrating thanksgiving and the superbowl, and partying together are lots of fun!

Also it is fun to go to the D-bar together with friends! This is student bar for grad students. The beers here are a lot cheaper than in any pub, also special beers!

Of course there’s a lot more to be told here. However, those of you who will also visit Princeton can figure this out for themselves of course! Again many thanks to FuseNet for making this possible!