Study Abroad Reflections: Joséphine Groslambert

While St Andrews’ students are powering through revision and exams in these final weeks of the academic year, some of our partner universities are already done. One of these universities is UC Berkeley, which ends tomorrow on May 17th. Part of the University of California system, it is the only one on a semester system like ourselves, but they still manage to finish just a bit earlier than St Andrews.

All wrapped with her exams, Joséphine Groslambert has found the time to sum up her terrific experience in California. As someone from California, her blurb made me wistful for home, but I’m glad students from all over the world, especially those from St Andrews, have a chance to explore the massive state and all its wonders. Read more to find out just how much Joséphine has learned and discovered, both academically and socially. 

“When asked to describe what I have enjoyed about my study abroad year I don’t really know where to begin. This past year has been so fulfilling academically and socially.

One thing I will take back with me is the beauty of California, a place where vibrant cities compete with magnificent national parks. I tried to explore this beautiful state: I went camping in Yosemite, observed whales off the coast of Santa Cruz, wandered in San Francisco, hiked around the Bay Area and spent Thanksgiving in Lake Tahoe. I also joined the UC Berkeley climbing club, which enabled me to discover a new sport and meet a lot of people.

Academically, studying molecular biology at Berkeley has been a challenging but exceptionally stimulating experience.  I am being taught by professors who are leaders in their fields of research, attending seminars on hot topics in biology, not to mention sharing the same campus as eight Nobel laureates. This spring semester, I started working in an immunology laboratory, where I study a novel cellular defence mechanism against viral infection and tumour progressionBeing part of a research team that studies fascinating topics such as immunotherapy has been a highlight of my year and reinforced my will to pursue a career in biological research.

After a long day of studying and working in the laboratory, I go home to a house of sixty friends. Choosing to live in a coop was the best decision I made on my study abroad year. Being a coop resident at Berkeley is a unique experience, it made me fall into a community of accepting, inspiring and supportive friends. From cooking dinner for sixty people, to watching the sunset over San Francisco from our roof top, to organizing impromptu hiking trips and attending wine and cheese parties, my coop supplied me with lifelong memories and friendships.

My study abroad year is now coming to an end and a bittersweet feeling fills me as I write these words. The Californian sunshine, the views on San Francisco, and most importantly, the wonderful people I met will be truly missed.”  

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