What have you been up to lately?
I just finished my first year at the University of Chicago on a Questbridge Scholarship. So, I have been exploring UChicago and taking some introductory Biology and Chemistry courses. Recently, I also took a long weekend and went to Hong Kong for a reception with my school and spent the rest of the time sightseeing and just walking through the city.
Tell us about your internship in China.
Since finals finished in June, I have been in Shanghai completing an internship at a synthetic biology lab at ShanghaiTech University. I am watching the grad students’ experiments and doing a lot of their prep work. But I have also been completing my own project to express fluorescent proteins.
What made you want to work in China?
My main motivation for coming to ShanghaiTech was that I wanted to study abroad wherever possible while still doing something related to my major (which as of now is Biology) and my school has more study abroad opportunities in Asia than other continents. It worked out well because many of the internships in China are at schools or museums which gives me the chance for a substantial research opportunity, so I was very excited when I got accepted into the program.
What has China been like for you?
China has definitely had the most culture shock out of the places I have visited because I don’t know the language and I have been here for such an extended period of time. Overall, I can say that I have definitely been able to adapt to the adjustments and see a lot of really interesting parts of the city. From visiting street markets after work to historical temples on the weekend it’s all been really fun.
What is next for you?
My internship is almost done and then I am returning home for the rest of summer. Hopefully just catching up with friends and family and getting a part-time/ temporary job until school starts. Next year I will be taking more advanced classes as well as starting some Computer Science courses. I will also start looking into getting a research position.
Where do you hope to be 5 years from now?
I hope to be graduated from University of Chicago and on a gap year before attending graduate or medical school. I would probably use it to volunteer in another country either teaching English or working at a clinic.
Thinking back to the time of your Japan trip, what do you remember most?
I remember going out all day and getting back to the really nice hostile in Kyoto and getting some vending machine cocoa as people did laundry. We would journal together so we could make sure that everyone remembered to put everything in, like a funny sign we had seen that day, or what new food we got to try.
Can you share some stories from your Japan trip?
I remember that I especially loved the Fushimi-Inari Shrine because that was the day I was in charge of navigating. Even though I got on a local train instead of an express we still saw the deer at Nara park and the huge temple and made it back to the shrine in time to hike and hear the cicadas. I think that being in charge of navigating the public transit really helped me to feel comfortable and I remember thinking that I could probably do this on my own. I really enjoyed it and it gave me some confidence that helped me when I had to navigate to a hotel or something by myself now that I have traveled alone.
We also went to Fukushima to meet with other high school students. I didn’t know what to expect after the flood and nuclear disaster, but we had an amazing time talking to them and visiting the aquarium. It made me realize that travelling is more about seeing cool architecture and historical landmarks. You also get to meet people and learn about other people. So, I think that is a big part of why I love travelling now and going anywhere that I can.
How has your Japan Trip experience continued to impact you today?
The Japan trip had a huge impact on realizing that it was still possible to travel and find funding as long as you’re willing to look for it. Not only did it help me realize that I could travel, and that I enjoy travelling, but it also impacted the way I travel. I value researching and learning about a culture before I visit so that I make the most out of my experience anywhere. Japan class every week for a year was definitely a lot to manage at times but being able to go somewhere and have a respect for the history of it, and be able to have some conversations in Japanese, even if they were relatively short and beginner level helped me to connect to the where I was. I didn’t unfortunately get to learn a lot of Chinese except for greetings and numbers and stuff like that, but I did research a lot on what I wanted to see and the history behind it.
Do you have any advice for current Boston teens about the Japan program?
I think my advice would be not to overpack because you always want to get more souvenirs than you have space for. And to just use Wi-Fi on your phone, because you save a lot of money and it helps you to actually pay attention. Also, work with one another while you are exploring.
Is there a Japan trip alumni who you think we should do a highlight in the coming year?
I was encouraged to go on the trip by Mia Yee and Jun-Ang Ni who also participated in this program. I believe that Mia went to Japan again after the trip and Jun either returned or went elsewhere in Asia.
Thanks so much for taking the time to connect with us while you are living in China! We appreciate getting an update from you.
I am still extremely grateful for the trip and happy to help. I hope the alumni event goes well!
Yes, we are excited for the Alumni Summer Social on July 25. It’s the first time we have brought together alumni from all the different travel programs. I hope you can attend next year if you are back in Boston!
Yeah of course!