Xuan Ye, Materials
The Imperial-MIT UROP (undergraduate research opportunity programme) summer exchange programme was an absolutely awesome experience for me. I enjoyed both the social and academic life during my stay at MIT, Boston.
I was assigned to the Department of Nuclear Engineering at MIT. My supervisor helped with all the problems including check-in and finding my lab group before and after my arrival. The International Office was also very helpful in that they gave me an extra personal orientation and walked me through the final steps of registration at MIT. There were 4 people in the research group, 3 students from UROP and an experienced machinist who was our supervisor. After desktop based research the group formulated a plan for the experiment. Our samples were delayed but while we were waiting my colleagues and I familiarised ourselves with the measuring equipment and data processing procedures.
The stay at MIT was really nice. The accommodation is close to most of the labs we are working in and its right next to the student centre where you can buy food and groceries. The accommodation provided by MIT is very nice. The building is near the Charles River and I happened to have a room with river view which is stunning. During term time the building hosts some of the first year students but in the summer it is specially designated to welcome students who are involved in all sorts of international research or language programmes. So living in such an environment was a great opportunity to meet people from various cultural backgrounds. Even casual chats in the corridor with random people became an enjoyable/valuable experience. Academics are really friendly there and they are willing to offer all kinds of help. Getting around Boston is quite easy with the underground and there are plenty of attractions to see in Boston and almost all of them are within walking distance from each other. So living experience wise, a summer at MIT is awesome.
It was the United States of America so the culture shock wasn’t very big, but there was definitely some differences between environments there and in London and I do think that experiencing such differences is one of the major benefits of attending an international programme. My first impression was the people in Boston are really friendly and talkative, probably owing to the fact that I arrived the day before 4th of July. The entire Imperial/Oxford-MIT exchange group gathered together to explore Boston during the stay and we’ve had some great memories together.
Overall the Imperial-MIT UROP summer exchange programme is a rewarding experience. It is highly recommended that people take this oppertunity to experience research life and gain international vision.