This year I have had the most fun I have ever had in a single period of time. A year’s worth of adventure, science and meeting new people. I had so many stand-out experiences that changed my perspective, not just of America but of the world and how I want to fit into it.
Enriching my placement through the people I shared it with
I had the opportunity to travel all over the East Coast, not just as a tourist but also as a local due to my amazing lab colleagues that invited me into their homes. Not only did I get to travel with them but also learn from them. They were more than willing to share their knowledge and experience. This just made my placement even richer.
Going on placement in another country is a strange circumstance and as a result if gives you a lot of opportunities to understand yourself. I realised that making friends is easier than you think it is and being on your own is not a bad thing.
I spent a lot of time visiting touristy spots on my own before I made a close group of friends and I genuinely enjoyed it. I got to experience things at my own pace and visit the local sights.
Finding my passion
Being here and doing research helped me realise that this is exactly what I want to do in the future and fundamentally that I am passionate about doing science of any kind.
Advice for future placement students
If you are waiting to hear about your placement: be patient. It took 2 months before I heard about my placement, but it was worth the wait. Be patient, be persistent and be prepared to realise that you might enjoy aspects of the placement that surprise you.
If you don’t get your first choice don’t be disheartened, keep applying! I didn’t fully know what I was going to be doing whilst in North Carolina and I was happily surprised at what I have managed to be involved in and what I have learned.
Most importantly I have realised that I was my only obstacle; this time abroad has made me feel empowered.