Take a deeeeep breath. Tucson is one of the cleanest cities in the U.S., as measured by year-round particle pollution. That should come in handy when we’re panting heavily on a bike, hike, or simple jog. Surrounded by mountain ranges, this year-round sunny city is the place for outdoor activity aficionados, especially cyclists. A program called “Bicycle Boulevards” helps turn city streets into safe pathways for bikers. And unlike some of the other cities on this list (cough New York cough), Tucson’s not a place where we’ll end up blowing our whole paycheck: The city’s been rated one of the most affordable places to rent an apartment. Spend some of that extra dough at the restaurants, bars, and boutiques in the historic Fourth Avenue district.
Why the University of Arizona?
Neuroscience at the University of Arizona offers the best of many worlds. I am very pleased with the training that I am receiving. The faculty members here are very involved with the students and the general happenings of the program. In addition to being involved with a very strong research program, I find Tucson to be a great place to live. There is a strong sense of community among the students here, which made my transition to a new state easy. Further, there are literally hundreds of amazing hikes in the local mountains and canyons within 30 minutes from the U of A campus. In Arizona, it is actually possible to do good science and maintain a life. I could not be any happier with my decision to come here.
- Sara Burke, alumna
Tucson living is very different from living in other regions of the country, including the east coast. As a former east coaster, I really relish my life out here for several reasons. Although Tucson is a large city, it has a small town feel to it due to the surrounding landscape and the design of the city in which businesses and residences are mainly one story so as to not obscure the view of the natural surroundings. The verdant desert is bordered by mountains and for many days of the year, we are in perpetual sunshine. I really appreciate the nice weather all year round because I can swim all year round and also do a variety of outdoor activities, including horseback riding in one of the state parks. One can also drive 45 minutes or a few hours north and be in a completely different environment (going from desert to grasslands to forest). So, if one does miss the snow and ice, you can easily drive to another area of the state and see it. I also appreciate the low cost of living out here which makes it very affordable for a graduate student on a $20,000 a year stipend to live alone and in a small house or nice apartment. In the east coast cities of Washington, New York, and Boston, this would not be possible (in my personal experience). I really feel that having this perpetual sunshine and lush landscape keeps me relaxed and easy going and the people I have met out here seem to also possess these attributes. People are not in a rush all the time and tend to be relaxed and warm. For these reasons, I really enjoy Tucson.
The UArizona Program in Neuroscience has been a good "home" for me these past few years for several reasons. As a first year graduate student, I was uncertain about the type of research that I wanted to pursue- vertebrate or invertebrate and so, I felt that there a diverse group of faculty and research areas to choose from here. Secondly, I have found that faculty are very approachable, enthusiastic about research, and enjoy teaching, whether it be one-on-one, in the classroom, or in the community. I can approach my committee members and even readily sit down and talk with other CN faculty for advice and/or technical help. I have continually felt that the Program places a strong value on soliciting student input during our education and respecting our "voice," allowing for student representation on various committees including admissions and recruitment, the executive committee, and academic program review.
- Julie Miller, alumna
I like living in Tucson because it is very easy to live in Tucson. It isn’t big and cosmopolitan like an east coast city, but I’ve never been bored here, either. A population of over 400,000 supports plenty of restaurants, concerts, bars, sports, and festivals, without many of the trappings that make big-city living such a headache. The cost of living is reasonable, and it is easy for a graduate student to afford nice housing close to campus. There’s really no reason to commute more than a couple of miles to the U of A, and if you want to live close enough to walk or bike, you can. The weather makes it easy to have a good time; outdoor recreation can be enjoyed year-round. The people here are much more laid-back and friendly than in most cities of this size.
Tucson, in addition to being a great place to live day-to-day, is an ideal homebase for exploring the southwest. The Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, and San Carlos, Mexico, are all within a day’s drive. You can be on either the beach in Rocky Point or the slopes at Sunrise in 4 hours.
In Tucson, you can enjoy simple pleasures that you might not find easily anywhere else: Sonoran hot dogs, spring training, swimming in February, summer monsoons, and snow-capped peaks viewed from a place where you can still wear sandals.
- Brian Hawkins, alumnus
The Program in Neuroscience has done for me exactly what it was meant to do: It has given me the tools to become a successful neuroscientist. In two months, I am starting post-doctoral work in spinal cord repair, an area in which I have no experience. I was able to obtain this position because of lessons learned here in Tucson, including manuscript writing, public presentation of my work, and experimental design (keep it SIMPLE!). In addition, my interest in the topic of spinal cord repair was first piqued by a lecture in Neuroscience 588, my very first year in the program. Finally, because it is so easy to become entrenched in one's own sub-sub-subfield of neuroscience, the opportunities for intellectual 'cross-training' in the Tucson neuroscience community are truly refreshing. I highly recommend the Data Blitzes for quick updates on other parts of the neuroscience world!
As for living in Tucson, I think that October through May more than make up for June through September. People coming from very cold climates tend to agree, I've noticed, but you'll have to decide for yourself!
- Ephron Rosenzweig, alumnus
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