Studying abroad is rare in the STEM fields, probably because of the rigorous coursework and strict timeline necessary for graduation. I decided early on as an undergraduate, though, that I would fit this experience into my full chemical engineering curriculum. The summer after my junior year I traveled to South Korea to do atmospheric chemistry research at the Gwangju Insitute of Science and Technology. My research mentor and I took a spectrometer out to a subdistrict to measure the amount of nitrogen dioxide in polluted air masses. Along with my scientific work, I took introductory Korean, traveled to a beach city for an annual mud festival, and tried all sorts of wild new foods. At the end of 11 weeks, I flew back to the U.S. for 10 days to pick up a visa, unpack, and repack. Then I flew back out to France for a semester at the Ecole Polytechnique outside Paris. I did research there as well, modeling oceanic currents and their stability. I already spoke French and communicating about science in another language was a powerful experience. It taught me to distill ideas down to only the most essential parts. I took courses in climate dynamics and resource use as well and got to explore Paris on the weekends. Now I live in Atlanta and am in a doctoral program in chemical engineering with application to climate science. I am hoping to travel to Germany this fall to work with a research group there. As communication and technology become faster, international collaboration in science will become more and more important. I hope to keep a global element central in my career to come.
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