Iulia-Oxana Andriuc (Department of Chemistry), MIT Summer 2017
Looking back at the almost two months I spent in the US as part of the MIT summer exchange programme I remember how excited, yet nervous I was before starting, not knowing what to expect from working on a research project in one of the top universities in the world, in a country I had never visited before. Little did I know at that time that participating in the IROP scheme would turn out to be one of the most memorable experiences of my undergraduate life. In addition to expanding my scientific and technical knowledge, this project has been invaluable in deciding what path to take after graduating, as well as an opportunity to experience a new culture and travel to places I could only dream to visit before.
Carrying out research at MIT has been rewarding and enjoyable. Throughout the 8 weeks I was fortunate to receive a very balanced level of supervision: enough support that I would not feel lost, yet enough independence to keep the project challenging and push me to develop my confidence when it comes to research. While at the beginning I would shy away from taking initiative in the project, by the end I started to feel more confident in my approach to research, which is a skill that I consider to be extremely important in research.
In addition to the technical and scientific knowledge I gained during the programme, working at MIT and being in contact with academic staff gave me an insight into the US higher education system. Based on my own experience and the conversations I had with other group members and students, I started thinking about applying for graduate school in the US, something I most likely would not have even considered had it not been for my participation in the IROP scheme. Receiving advice and guidance regarding my future while consolidating my decision to continue my studies in the field is therefore another reason this experience has proved so beneficial.
Complementary to the academic aspect of the programme, the memories I have made during my stay in the US made the IROP a truly well-rounded experience. From hiking in the White Mountains to strolling down Wall Street, the weekend trips I went on gave me a glimpse into American culture, giving me an opportunity to experience a variety of settings: from rocky mountain roads to quiet beaches, from quaint small towns to bustling cities. With conversations around the campfire, watching serene sunsets on the beach and marvelling at world famous landmarks, this summer has definitely been one to remember.
Overall, participating in the MIT IROP has been an experience I thoroughly enjoyed and one that I would not hesitate to recommend. It gave me the opportunity to conduct research in a field I am passionate about at a world leading institution. Throughout the summer I received invaluable guidance both in terms of science and deciding on my future, opening new doors for me and giving me the confidence to pursue my chosen path. And last but not least, I was able to make long lasting memories while experiencing a new culture and visiting places I had been familiar with only through media.
"In addition to expanding my scientific and technical knowledge, this project has been invaluable in deciding what path to take after graduating, as well as an opportunity to experience a new culture and travel to places I could only dream to visit before"