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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


New insight after travels

Studying in Germany changed a student’s views on research.

Molecular and cellular biology senior Cameron Lee was there for three months as part of a research and study abroad program.

Biomedical Research Abroad: Vistas Open, known as BRAVO, funded his trip to do research at the University of Tübingen, in the city of the same name.

He was still making sense out of his experience and the new lifestyle he grew accustomed to, having been interviewed 10 hours after his return.

“”It’s made me more focused as a researcher. They didn’t have time to do anything else during the day but research … They would work really hard, for nine or 10 hours a day, every single day, and they would not come in on the weekends. Whereas here, from the research friends I know, we all come in all the time. We’re always working.””

As his first time traveling abroad, he was overwhelmed with the language barrier, which was one of the hardest aspects of the experience.

Lee traveled with practically no knowledge of the German language. Science work is done in English, he said. In the diverse lab he worked at, with French, Austrian, German, American and South African colleagues, everyone spoke English. “”As soon as we left the lab to go to lunch or coffee they’d switch it,”” he said.

BRAVO requires students to work on a project abroad similar to the one they’ve done at the UA. Lee has been working since freshman year at a university lab with Frans Tax,an associate professor at the UA studying plant embryogenesis. In Germany, he focused more on biochemistry. Witnessing a different mindset applied to the same science was eye-opening for him.

“”They seem to be more community-minded towards making agents or chemicals for groups to use. Whereas here, in the States, it’s more like you make what you need for yourself,”” he said.

At the UA, projects emphasize the learning process, focusing on a particular enigma. From now on, his work approach has changed, Lee said.

“”There’s gonna be more attention to detail and focusing on the overall goals of the research, which is eventually publishing a paper and completing a project,”” he said.

All expenses were paid by the program, including food and transportation. “”Why (BRAVO) is so amazing is they completely fund you,”” Lee said.

Before he left for Germany, he had a plan of finishing college and starting his graduate degree right away as a researcher in biology.

The major differences between societies left an impression. Priorities are different in the two countries. Now, after being immersed in a culture that is not as work-oriented, he said he’ll take his time.

“”Personally, I’ve learned to enjoy your life a little bit more,”” he said.

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