David's current position (2011): Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, University of Michigan Health System
Reason you chose this program: To expand my horizons. I grew up in Indiana and wanted to experience different cultures and educational systems. I spoke a little bit of French but did not feel that I could learn science in French. My English language skills were (and remain) relatively strong! I spoke with returned students from the University of Kent and they really enjoyed their time overseas. I also knew the microbiology program there was solid.
Best memory: Playing in a student rock band with British students. We got to perform often. It helped me gain confidence and build lasting friendships.
Greatest challenges: Adapting to taking the long written examinations that were given to the UK students, since I had previously mastered the multiple choice test in the U.S.
Biggest Surprise: How much I matured emotionally and intellectually while studying abroad.
How did your study abroad program affect your college experience? It was the single best decision I made at IU. It allowed me the freedom away from my comfortable surroundings to take academic risks and think for myself. In the days before cell phones and Internet communication I really felt alone overseas, until I made new friends. That untethered experience forced me to develop confidence and opened me to new relationships. I felt very grown up when I returned home.
What, if any, cultural practices have you retained from your time abroad? I always eat with both a knife and fork. That 2-handed approach to dining seemed more European to me at the time. Growing up in Indiana I don’t think I every used a knife except to cut steak. I also developed a life-long fondness for tea and British beer (yes I was 21 in the UK!).
Explain how you continue to emphasize the importance of study abroad: I encourage every undergraduate I meet to study abroad. I am a huge proponent for this experience. The world is getting smaller through the help of the Internet and the airlines. Make the most of it.
What do you feel are the long-term benefits of study abroad? Maturity, a broader appreciation for other cultures, a stronger sense of self.
Complete this sentence: If I could do it over I would...not change a thing.
What advice would you have for a student considering study abroad? Leave yesterday!