Shaira Bhanji at the Taj Mahal during her I-SURF Internship.
By Leah Gaffney, '15
Studying abroad can provide not only an immersive cultural experience, but also the chance to explore your passions in a world outside of Harvard. It can be challenging to find the perfect opportunity, especially as a science concentrator. This article compiles a number of opportunities and suggestions and reports on several students’ experiences.
Firstly, the Harvard Summer School offers six science programs in Japan, China, the Dominican Republic, England, and Italy. These programs are run by Harvard professors and have Harvard course numbers good for Harvard credit.
Students have reported these experiences to be incredibly worthwhile.
Annie Garofalo ‘15, a psychology concentrator in Currier House, went to Trento, Italy last summer with Harvard’s Mind, Brain, and Behavior program.
She liked how it made her feel more connected to her concentration at Harvard. “It was pretty specific to neurobiology. I got to meet a ton of people with similar interests, and as a sophomore I met a few juniors who gave me some great advice.”
Christopher White ‘15, a biomedical engineering concentrator in Quincy House, participated in professor Rob Lue’s life sciences program in Shanghai.
Chris made lasting relationships with Harvard faculty and Harvard and foreign students. “It was beneficial because I connected with Harvard professors who continue to influence my studies. I also learned a lot from the local students who had different perspectives on learning. It was a unique classroom environment that I would never have experienced here at Harvard.”
There are a few other popular programs including Andrew Berry’s evolutionary biology courses at Oxford University.
But suppose the Harvard Summer School offerings don’t cover your chosen science? Some departments and schools at Harvard offer separate abroad opportunities to undergraduates.
The Harvard Global Health Institute runs the International Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program (I-SURF). They offer global health internships in a number of African, Asian, and South American countries. Shaira Bhanji, ’14 discovered India last summer while conducting maternal and child health research for eight weeks. “The experience was one I’ll never forget. The research was meaningful, the people were wonderful, and the travel experience was extraordinary.”
The Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) is also working on providing more abroad opportunities. Beginning this summer, SEAS is co-administering “Medical Innovations for Low-resource Global Markets” with the Harvard South Asia Institute. This international experience in India focuses on developing new medical technologies.
Harvard offers great opportunities that have made meaningful summers for many students. However, there aren’t programs to exactly match everyone’s unique interests. Some students look outside of Harvard for abroad opportunities.
Harvard students are planning to attend the University of Cantabria (UC) this summer for their new summer programs in research in biotechnology and ocean & coastal engineering. Cornell University has an established abroad experience with UC, and the university is well known for its research. The summer programs offer coursework and involvement in a research project with university faculty.
There are seemingly unlimited opportunities abroad. Finding your own program outside of Harvard takes a little extra work, but could be worth it to find the perfect summer experience. Prepared programs are not necessarily tailored to your individual experience, and opportunities are not limited to those that are formed into comprehensive programs.
Tasha Evanoff ‘15, neurobiology concentrator of Dunster House, is creating her own experience this summer. She’s going to be studying muscular skeletal disorder and obesity with researchers in Paris. She’s excited for her unconventional summer: “It might be more challenging that going with a program, but that’s what makes it especially rewarding. IT’s the ultimate independence.”
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