For Wendy Wang, signing up for the Science Abroad program was one of the best decisions she could make for her education and future career path. As a third-year student majoring in immunology and global health, it is important for her to be challenged outside of her boundaries, to be able to think outside the box and to learn about how different parts of the world handle research in medicine.
Wang signed up for the Chemistry in Hungary program in her first year because she wanted to learn if she would be passionate about research.
“This trip certainly helped me realize that passion. But more than my passion for research, this trip showed me how I am capable of really pushing my boundaries and working collaboratively across various cultures and linguistic environments.”
The Chemistry in Hungary program lasts for seven weeks, from May 13 to July 1, hosted by the Drug Discovery Research Center at the University of Miskolc, one of the most prestigious research facilities overseas. The program consists of students from all over North America and Europe. The students attend lectures led by international researchers, participate in labs and learn skills that they use in individual projects. At the end, they travel to an international research symposium, where they present their research. Through such a unique experiential learning process, students get the chance to relate their academic studies to real-world lab situations, while also earning a course credit that will count toward their degree requirements.
Wang’s research during the program was in computational chemistry, investigating various contributors to the binding affinity of epinephrine derivatives to ß2 adrenergic receptors in search of potential new drug molecules. She says that choosing to do this program gave her valuable research experience in the field, challenged her to develop her data analysis skills and helped prepare her for presenting at conferences.
“For me, information given in lecture halls comes in a one-way flow,” says Wang. “This program offered me the chance to not only learn in-depth about my chosen subject, but also allowed me to share what my research has found.”
Besides achieving great academic goals, Wang also looks back on her program fondly for giving her so much international experience and exposure to other cultures.
“Unlike a regular travel experience, taking a course abroad, especially a research course, forces you to adapt to a variety of professional environments,” she says.
Her experience in Hungary even encouraged her to pursue more research opportunities abroad; last summer, she sought out an independent project in Glasgow, Scotland.
Wang knows that completing the program will be valuable to future employers and admissions committees.
“Now I can attest to my capacity to interact diplomatically with a diverse range of researchers and academics, and the ability to work independently as well, and that’s really important,” she says.
Learn more about the program at uoft.me/scienceabroad
Written by Jessica Lewis