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GEARE Students Abroad in 2022 - Part 2

As the world begins to return to some semblance of normalcy following the pandemic, we are thrilled to have our GEARE students abroad this semester all around the world. On a weekly basis throughout the semester, I will be sharing some of the experiences of the students abroad. The goal of these posts is to highlight the accomplishments and endeavors of our wonderful cohort of students abroad in 2022. In this week’s post, Gabby Schalm and Dan English have shared some of their experiences being abroad.

Gabby is a mechanical engineering student, currently studying abroad in Paris, France at the engineering school ESTACA. While there, she has “been doing a lot of engaging lab work at school and really enjoyed meeting other international and French students.” She has “made friends from all around the world, and has loved exploring Paris and experiencing a completely different lifestyle.” The courses that she is taking “are much more project-based compared to Purdue, but [she has] really enjoyed the difference and is already learning a lot of valuable skills!”

Later in the semester, she is looking forward to “traveling around other European countries, and has already made plans to visit Madrid, and hopefully Italy!” Over the summer, [she] will be returning to the US for a summer internship with an electric vehicle company in California, which [she is] really looking forward to.”

One piece of advice that Gabby has for current students is to “embrace the unexpected and don't miss out on experiences because you're afraid of going outside your comfort zone. Adjusting to a different lifestyle can definitely be intimidating (especially if you are encountering a language barrier) but try not to let this get in the way of you trying new things. Accept the fact that you'll probably mess a lot of things up, and don't let fear of making mistakes (language, navigation, etc) prevent you from making the most of your study or work abroad experience! Also, do things the way the ‘locals’ do them, even if it might seem bizarre at first - there's a good chance you'll be pleasantly surprised!”

Dan English is an electrical engineering student, currently working at the Ruhr University of Bochum in Germany. So far, he has “been working on a research project involving cryptography on an FPGA device. A lot of it involves designing the code structure, drawing diagrams, and running tests on hardware.” His best experience so far was “a lunch with [his] research professor and a few grad students. [He] was able to hear their engineering and college stories in Europe and their career dreams and goals.”

The summer semester starts at Ruhr University in April. Then, Dan plans on “taking a few classes while continuing to research part-time. In March, [his] girlfriend is flying over, and [they] are planning a trip to Amsterdam and Paris.” Later in the summer, “some of [his] family will visit and are planning to either travel to the UK or Spain.” For now though, while on his own, he “wants to explore Germany, both the big tourist cities and the smaller towns.”

One piece of advice that Dan has for current students is to “make it a point to meet people right away or as soon as possible, even if it's just a professor or administrative faculty. Talking to local people really helps with dealing with expectations and makes figuring things out much less stressful. While abroad, there will be a lot of new and unfamiliar stuff you will have to do (buy groceries, register in the city, sign up for a debit card, etc.). By knowing people that live there, you can take a lot of the guesswork out of figuring out how to do these new things.”

After the pandemic made global travel impossible in 2021, it is great to have GEARE students back studying and working around the world in 2022! I hope to continue to share student experiences like these throughout the rest of the semester, highlighting two new students every week.

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