My Study Abroad Experience in Mainz, Germany.
My study abroad experience all began in early November 2015, when my friend Austin told me about a chemistry based study abroad program that upcoming spring semester. He was a pre-med student and I am a chemical engineering student so at first I thought it sounded interesting but it wasn't exactly for me. Once he started going to a few meetings for the trip and telling me more and more about the German and Chemistry aspects, I became increasingly interested. I decided it couldn't hurt to meet with Dr. Arduengo, the professor in charge of the program at the University of Alabama, and one of the students who had gone the previous year. From there, it took off immediately.
Within days of deciding to go on the trip, everything was set in motion. From booking flights to starting to learn the basics of the German language, it was clear from the beginning that Dr. Arduengo was going to have high expectations for us, but was also a very valuable resource on broad selection of topics. As the fall semester came to an end, all (well most) of the details had been worked out and after an abbreviated Christmas break, I was headed to Germany with Dr. Arduengo and Austin for three months full of German language and culture, Chemistry, and everything in between.
Once in Germany we began work with Organic Chemistry lectures and lab work as well as learning the German language. The Chemistry lecture was not easy. There is no short cut to learning organic chemistry but it does help when you are being taught by a professor who knows about as much as there is to know about chemistry. On a daily basis, Dr. Arduengo challenged our minds but also was there to answer our questions. It was a unique learning experience, with just two students in the class compared to huge lecture halls in a traditional classroom setting, but it was very advantageous to have that much attention from a professor.
Despite the intriguing material from the lecture, the lab work was my favorite part of the whole trip. Not only was I exposed to extensive chemistry technique and analysis, it was alongside a plethora of Ph.D. chemists and graduate students from Germany and other countries in Europe. Working on a daily basis with chemistry while experiencing firsthand the German culture and language was an invaluable experience. It expanded my horizons in chemistry but also as a whole person. It inspired me and opened doors for me to continue my lab work back at the University of Alabama in Dr. Arduengo's Lab group.