Lived in NM for many years. I liked the climate, the food is fantastic, and the atmosphere is relaxed. Well over 300 days of sun per year, and endless beautiful scenery. Lots of cheap housing near UNM, and not nearly as ghetto as it used to be. The downtown area is still pretty small compared to real cities, but has come a long way in terms of nightlife, dining and atmosphere. Decent skiing nearby in Taos or Pajarito (or less decent skiing at Sandia, Santa Fe or Sipapu). In the spring/summer, go rafting on the Rio Grande, and backpacking/hiking up in the mountains. Also tons of mountain biking and rock climbing to be had, as well as backcountry skiing; definitely plan to take up at least one outdoor activity, or you will miss out. Parking at the airport is cheap, and you save on low-octane gas due to the altitude. Even cheaper gas (and tobacco and gambling) can be had from the myriad Indian reservations in the area. Impress your female relations with visits to Santa Fe and Taos to look at art galleries. Check out the burning of Zozobra at least once. Camp out in Chaco canyon, and tour the Acoma Sky City and Carlsbad Caverns, and rid a sled down a dune at White Sands. Visit Four Corners and stand in 4 states at the same time. Get up early and see the annual Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (world's largest!). Try to develop some Native friends in the hope of getting an invitation to a tribal dance ceremony/feast. Buy turquoise jewelry from the Indians in Santa Fe Plaza. Also, go on the Farolito walk on Christmas Eve on Canyon road in Santa Fe. If you're Catholic, go on the Easter Pilgramage to Chimayo.
NM is home to lots of people from other places, so just cultivate a love of green chile, a smattering of Spanglish, a complex about how nobody can even find NM on a map, and a disdain for Texan tourists and you'll be fit right in.
Albuquerque is a nice city with pretty good weather year round. It is sunny and in the 60s right now. There are plenty of things to do outdoors: biking, hiking, golf, during most of the year, and during the winter months it is easy to go to many of the mountain ranges (most within a few hours) for some good skiing and snowboarding. Albuquerque sits next to the Sandia Mountains (part of the Rockies), and the altitude in the city is pretty high (5000 feet I think). Water conservation is a big issue, and you will notice that most places have little grass (xeriscaping is common). However, the campus is still pretty nice.
If I recall correctly, the physics department is kind of in the middle of nowhere on one edge of campus (the north end I believe): they don't want the physics students interacting with the general population You might consider bringing a bike (which is a great way to commute for most of the year).
If you want to live without a car you will need to live near campus, or somewhat close by (or along Central Avenue). Albuquerque is a "western car town" and the public transportation is not that great (but it is getting better, and UNM students can ride for free).
I am not a physics student so I don't know a whole lot about the physics department, but I have lived in Albuquerque most of my life (but I will soon be leaving ) I sent you a pm, e-mail me if you have any questions.
Thank you quadraphonics. So far that is the most information anyone has had for me. I didn't get a chance to visit as I work full time and did a double major in math and physics. I applied based on what the program had and on the likelihood I would get in. New Mexico is looking like my best bet.
Hope you are now at UNiversity on New Mexico. I'm also going to apply University of New Nexico and university of University of Nebraska. my research interest are material physics and biophysics.
"quadraphonics" information is realy good. thanks for that.
Currently Im doing my graduate studies at Arizona State University. my wife also try to get admission from ASU several times but she couldnt do that. thats why Im planning to move.
I will looking forward your ideas about those universities.