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on July 31, 2018 on 7/31/18 from ,

Vlog: Reflecting on Time in Scotland

Going in blind

Before my trip to Scotland, I didn’t know what to expect. Beyond a couple of articles I read about Scottish culture, popular attractions in Glasgow, and getting around the city, my knowledge of the country I was going to visit was minimal. In fact, I wanted to sit back and just enjoy the experience ahead of me instead of planning every detail like I usually do. But now that I’m back I have so much more to say.

Bridge at Kelvingrove Park.

People make Glasgow

Glasgow’s city brand jingle is “people make Glasgow” and that saying couldn’t be any truer. Never have I visited a city where locals will scoot in closer on the subway to ask where you’re going and what you’re up to for the day. Never have I visited a city where the elderly locals will walk up to you in the train station to ask for help buying tickets at the ticket machine. Never have I visited a city where people are so remarkably kind. Glaswegians are open, honest, practical, and friendly.

Looking out towards the loch at the Isle of Arran.

Arcadia Summer stem 2018 review

Going into my academic program, my only expectations were intensive research experience and plenty of time to explore Glasgow. Overall, Arcadia did a great job of matching professors to students’ research interests. Whenever I talked to my peers, the trend seemed to be that students studying biology at their home institutions, for example, were doing biology-based research projects. Additionally, Arcadia put on great excursions for students including Loch Lomond, the Petland Pony Trek, the Sunshine on Leith play, and Glasgow Escape Rooms.

However, if I were to recommend an improvement, I would say that many students wanted more detailed descriptions of their summer projects ahead of time. On the Arcadia website, students only had access to paragraph-length summaries of their projects. It would have been nice to know what we would actually be expected to do from 9-5 every week instead of going to the lab and finding out later.

Arcadia summer STEM students glowing after their presentations!

Skills I learned

While abroad, my computing skills definitely improved. I went in knowing very basic functions in Matlab that my lab back at home used daily, but my summer research project in cognitive psychology relied heavily on Matlab programming to proceed. I learned how to organize files and directories for ease of access, convert .mat files into .vmp (volume map) files, and run intersubject correlation analyses in Matlab. Additionally, I learned how to work BrainVoyager to visualize intersubject correlation analysis results and produce Talairach coordinates to find out more about social brain areas in autism.

Presenting my research project on social brain areas in autism.

Changing view on Studying abroad

I remember sitting in my flat and thinking about how much I was enjoying my time abroad. I was already having such a good time that just two weeks into my six-week trip that I was already researching other education abroad programs I could go on next summer. As of now, I’m not sure if I’ll go on another trip, but the desire is definitely there! When I get back to Ohio State in the fall, I plan to meet with some study abroad advisors to see if any other research-centered programs are available.

Looking back, I always knew I wanted to study abroad during my time in college, but in my head accomplishing that goal was more of a checklist item than anything else. However, actually going to Scotland and experiencing life there for six weeks changed my mindset. I realized that studying abroad isn’t something you just do because many college students do it too. Rather, studying abroad is something you do for yourself. Study abroad so that you can see another part of the world, learn a new language, or improve your technical and communications skills. Pursue an education abroad experience because you have a goal to reach. Here’s a link to my upon return video!

Lab members, professor, and Arcadia summer STEM students in front of the University of Glasgow.