This week I was asked to write about Studying Abroad and I am determined to fulfill that request.
Unfortunately, when it comes to UCI Study Abroad, I have no experience, only regrets.
I was definitely very interested in studying abroad as I started putting together my 4-year Course Plan, and everybody I talked to highly recommended the experience. However, I had recently switched into the Civil Engineering major and I had seen a flyer advertising “Study Abroad in Tokyo for Engineering Majors” and, for some silly reason, assumed that this was my only option with regards to traveling. Although I really don’t have anything against Japan, I didn’t have much of an interest in going to Tokyo so I dismissed the opportunity altogether.
Instead of just giving up on the concept of Studying Abroad, I should have asked more questions. As it turns out, it is very possible to Study Abroad almost anywhere you want, regardless of major, as long as you are willing to put in a bit of effort. If I had known that earlier, I would have taken a quick trip over to the Study Abroad office (near the CHP Office) and tried to work something out with them so that I could have actually pursue my original plan of traveling abroad. The silver lining is that, as a citizen of Norway, I had already been able to spend time in other countries before starting college. That said, from what I hear, the experience of studying in a foreign country is an irreplaceable one indeed, and I wish I had been more inquisitive in my somewhat brief efforts to study abroad.
So, make sure that, in your fourth year here at UCI, you are unable to write a blog about regrets of not studying abroad; take the time to visit the Study Abroad office and find a way to make it work for you!
This week I was also asked to write about the CHP Research Thesis—specifically to relay my experiences with it thus far in a manner which would make it less daunting. In order to do so, I have compiled the following: Bo’s Step-by-Step Guide to the Research Thesis
- Get to know a Professor – as daunting as it may seem to talk to faculty, it is extremely important to go to office hours and get acquainted with your professors. Ask them about their research and show interest. Even if you don’t have any classes with the professor(s), try to set up an appointment to meet with them in some respect. I would definitely start doing this in your Sophomore year, if not sooner.
- Ask about Research – As soon as you find a professor doing work that interests you (in my case, it was during winter quarter of my Junior year) and just straight up ask them if you could do research under them. If they say “Yes” or some combination of words that indicates “Yes” to you, congratulations! If, for some reason, the answer seems like a “No,” don’t take it too hard. Faculty are very busy and it is understandable if some of them don’t have time to involve undergraduates in their work. The good thing is that there are tons of faculty on campus and there is bound to be another one doing research work that interests you, so don’t give up!
- Formulate a thesis – The CHP Senior Thesis is comprised of at least two quarters of research that culminates in an academic paper. In order to write this you need to have a hypothesis, so consider what aspect of the research you have been doing interests you specifically and how you would like to explore it further. Have a talk with your research advisor (the professor you are working with) about how to make this happen. Some professors will prefer that you stay somewhat in line with the research they are doing while others will be okay to supervise you in whatever research you choose as long as it is in their field. This varies from professor to professor so it is important to sit down and have a conversation about their expectations early on.
- Do research – At this point, you carry out your research. This will vary drastically between fields and projects, so make sure that you coordinate with your advisor to ensure that you are on track. For me, this has meant creating and running models, as well as doing literature reviews of current research projects in my field of interest. I find it particularly helpful to meet as often as possible with my research advisor as they are often the best sounding board for your ideas and to answer questions when you are stumped.
- Write you thesis – So you’ve done at least two quarters of faculty-mentored research and you are feeling ready to write your thesis. The key here is to start early so that you have plenty of time to make it the best paper possible! Most CHP students start writing in the Winter Quarter of their Senior year, though it is not uncommon for students to begin earlier. This will allow for plenty of time for your advisor to review your work before its eventual submission to the CHP. Depending on when you finish, you might also be able to submit it to the Undergraduate Journal here on campus for publication.
I know the thesis is a daunting concept for many of you, particularly due to the aura of mystery that surrounds it. Hopefully my rough step-by-step guide above can help you get a better feeling for what the process entails and how to go about starting it. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to send me an email or come visit me (or any of the other CHP PAAs) during office hours!
I hope you enjoyed today’s Daily Double! I would be happy to write on [almost] any topic that you all want to hear about, so please feel free to make suggestions to me either in the comments or by some other means of communication. Happy Week 3!