Philipp Natho (Department of Chemistry), MIT Summer 2016
This summer I was given the opportunity to undertake a research project at the chemistry department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Together with an international and diverse group of students from Imperial and Oxford, I did not only develop academically over 8 weeks but also thoroughly explored Boston and surrounding areas.
I particularly enjoyed the academic nature of this exchange program, but had a lot of fun in my free-time as well. MIT has a very large campus, right at the river bank of the Charles River and together with the famous main building it is a fantastic sight walking to work every morning. The weather did its part too – with most days being sunny and with temperatures far above 30 °C. We used this chance and went sailing on the river. Furthermore we were allowed to use all facilities for free throughout the summer – a very well-equipped gym, a 50-m pool and all basketball and football courts.
My evenings and weekends I was able to spend with the exchange group. Boston and surrounding area are quite popular for lobster so obviously we tried that. We also had steak one evening, and since it is America we found a good chocolate themed restaurant in the centre of Boston which we went to quite a few times. Sightseeing did not come short either – we hiked for 20 km for a whole day around a lake and went to the aquarium in Boston. We visited the Harbour Islands by ferry which are just outside Boston and had an amazing view on the skyline, went to pubs, learnt about America's history on the freedom trail, visited Harvard and went to a concert. We also did not miss out on watching a Red Sox match (including 5 home-runs) either. On the 4th of July we watched the Independence Day fireworks by the Charles River – 20 minutes of fireworks were a great sight to see.
All in all I would say that this is an amazing opportunity for everyone who is passionate about their subject and wants to spend a summer abroad. I really enjoyed this experience, not only to grow academically, but also to learn about different cultures and spend time with an amazing group of people. Even if you decide not to undertake a PhD in the end it is still a great opportunity to get a strong reference from a world-class researcher, if you are willing to work hard and put in the effort and discipline during summer.
"I really enjoyed this experience, not only to grow academically, but also to learn about different cultures and spend time with an amazing group of people"