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Broadening Horizons

Last quarter, 39 undergraduates from bioengineering, civil, environmental and sustainable engineering, computer science and engineering, and mechanical engineering fulfilled their dreams and expanded their horizons through Study Abroad. Here, two of our students share their experiences.

Broadening a student’s worldview is what Jesuit education is all about, and study abroad at Santa Clara University is thriving! With more than 500 SCU students vying for 330 posts, it is a highly competitive field for the would-be global travelers. And while some might think an engineering course load is too demanding to allow for international study while also achieving that diploma within four years, our Broncos are bucking that misconception. Last quarter, alone, 39 undergraduates from bioengineering, civil, environmental and sustainable engineering, computer science and engineering, and mechanical engineering fulfilled their dreams and expanded their horizons through study abroad. Here, two of our students share their experiences.

Ashton Politz '19 loving the fog at the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Ashton Politz '19 loving the fog at the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

 

Ashton Politz ’19
Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering Major
University College Cork, Ireland – Fall 2017

How did you prepare for Study Abroad and how did you choose your program?

I talked with older civil engineering students who studied abroad in Cork, Ireland, to learn about both their academic and cultural experience. They all had a really good experience. I knew I wanted to go to an English-speaking country and had never been to Ireland, so University College in Cork was a good choice for me.

 

Where did you stay, and how was the experience?

I stayed at a student accommodation called the Spires about 8 minutes from campus. My roommate was another Santa Clara student, which was really nice especially when we were adjusting to the Irish culture. Also, there were three other students in our apartment who were from other parts of the United States. They, too, were great to live with and learn from.

 

What courses did you take and how did they differ from your courses at SCU?

I took three civil engineering courses—Traffic and Highways, Mechanics of Soils, and Civil Engineering Systems; 2 core classes—Greek Mythology and Nineteenth-Century American Literature; and one study abroad requirement class—Introduction to Modern Irish History for Visiting Students. There was very minimal homework and there were no midterms.

 

Did you do much travelling or participate in other activities?

I travelled to Munich, Paris, London, Madrid, Galway, Northern Ireland, and various counties in Ireland. And I actually joined the archery club at University College Cork. I went to practices once a week and it was great to meet Irish students while also shooting a bow and arrow, something I rarely, if ever, get to do in the United States.

 

How have you changed as a result of your experience?

I feel like I have a better appreciation for the cultures in other countries. Also, I also got to see some incredible engineering feats in other countries that expanded my horizons as to what I can accomplish as a civil engineer. For starters, the Eiffel Tower in Paris is absolutely incredible. Notre Dame cathedral in Paris with its vaulted ceilings and beautiful stained-glass windows was breathtaking. Also, in Amsterdam the canals running through the city that are used as a means of transportation were unique. Seeing them made me think about how flooding is controlled or, the opposite, how do they prevent water levels from getting too low? Also, what are the benefits of having canals throughout the city for transportation purposes? Why do we not have them here in the United States? I guess what they taught me about my craft is that there is so much left for me to learn. These experiences inspired me to want to learn more about how the structures were built and how they have been able to last this long. And, in today's day and age, how can we take these structures and make them more sustainable? 

 

Would you recommend Study Abroad to others?

I absolutely would! My experience abroad was a life-changing experience for me. I thought as an engineer I would not have the opportunity to study abroad, and when I found out I could, I was not only was thrilled, but it made me appreciate just a little more my experience.

 

Ariana Haddad '20 in Lund, Sweden

Ariana Haddad '20 in Lund, Sweden

Ariana Haddad ’20 
Bioengineering Major
Lund University, Sweden – Fall 2018

How did you prepare for Study Abroad and how did you choose your program?

Studying abroad was always a dream of mine, so I started preparing very early. I researched the school and the programs it offered, as well as the country and its culture. It was a simple choice for me actually, I needed a program that my scholarship would cover and that would fulfill my engineering requirements. Lund University is a top engineering school in the world and I wouldn’t need to worry about tuition.

 

Where did you stay, and how was the experience?

I stayed in a six-person corridor room, meaning we each had our own rooms, but shared a common area. It was really special to be in this type of housing because we were able to become extremely close with each other. Everyone in my corridor room was from a different country around the world—Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, China, and Cyprus. We would get together every Sunday night and cook. We called it “family dinner” because we became each other’s families away from home. Each week we would cook traditional food from one of the countries we were from. We made everything from scratch, including dumplings, chicken tikka masala, naan, moussaka, Brazilian fish stew, Taiwanese street food, Boba tea, and of course for American night we made hamburgers and French fries! My experience abroad would not have been the same without my roommates and these family dinners.

What courses did you take and how did they differ from your courses at SCU?

I took Biomechanics, Introduction to Microfluidics and Lab on a Chip Systems, and Religion in Politics. The biggest difference was that I had so much more free time at LU than I normally do at SCU. In my technical classes at home, I would have lab once a week for three hours. At LU, I had three labs total for each technical class and most of the time they were not for a grade. I also only had class for maybe 2 or 4 hours a day, which is a sharp contrast to my class schedule back home. In Sweden, they focus heavily on group work. In every class, they have some sort of project or assignment that requires working in groups of two or more. The Swedish professors expect the students to study outside of class mainly and don’t hold regular office hours like professors do in the United States. In addition, the grade of the class was based only on the grade of the final exam.

 

Did you do much travelling or participate in other activities?

I travelled to England, Scotland, Turkey, Denmark and many, many cities in Sweden. I also had the chance to do some research in microfluidics and develop PDMS chips—Polydimethylsiloxane, a polymer used for fabricating and prototyping microfluidic chips]. I had classes with local students, so I studied with them most of the time. I also participated in FemiLund which is a feminist club on campus and worked in the engineering café.

 

How have you changed as a result of your experience?

This will definitely change the way I approach engineering. It has given me a more holistic worldview that I will be able to carry into my future projects and endeavors. It has also taught me to be patient when it comes to solving problems and working with others.

 

Would you recommend Study Abroad to others?

Yes, absolutely!! If you want to experience something new and be immersed in a new country and culture, I highly recommend it!

Engineering, Global, Undergraduate

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