Swapnil Shankar Summer 2018 Blog

Selection to SN Bose Scholars Program was one the best things that happened in my life! This has been such a fulfilling experience in every possible way, from personal to professional level. The university I was selected for was University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus. The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul constitute the capital of state Minnesota, and together they are called Twin Cities. In terms of climate, Minnesota is one of the coldest places in the entire continental US, with winters stretching as long as 6-8 months and temperatures reaching as low as -40 degree Celsius. However, the summer (May-August) is
quite warm. My internship was during the summer. I am from Mumbai and summer is very hot here. Living in Minneapolis during summer felt more like spring to me, thus making my stay comfortable.

Before moving to Minneapolis, I got the chance to visit Chicago for Khorana-Bose Orientation. Chicago was a really big city, so when I first moved to Minneapolis, it was a bit of setback because Minneapolis is a small city. However, there are plenty of attractions here too. Minnesota is called the “Land of 10000 lakes”, and this place really has a lot of lakes. I got the chance to visit a few of them. In fact, the largest freshwater lake, Lake Superior, is in Duluth, just 2 hours drive from Minnesota. I also got the chance to visit an amusement park called Valleyfair, and the rides and roller-coasters I found there were something I had never seen before. I also visited a mall called Mall of America, which is the largest mall of United States.

The research environment I found in my university was a bit different than what I found in India. I found that the people from different research groups are much more open about their work i.e. the interaction is more. Every Wednesday, we used to have a meeting where all the professors and students from the astrophysics sat down together and discussed either new papers or their current research work, which was really fruitful. My professors were also very helpful, and my lab mates too. This made the whole experience much better.

One thing I realized when I came to US was that I should start cooking. I haven’t done a lot of cooking before, and this was the first time I had to start cooking full-fledged. It is because the food from restaurants gets a little expensive, and there is this craving for our Indian taste. It was a bit difficult in the beginning, but I soon learned it. On the whole, this was my first time in US, so this was quite an adventure for me. Not only did I get to do research, but I also I met people, which really helped me understand their culture. This is something which you can learn only when you actually live with people. As I have said earlier, this experience has really been fulfilling to me in every possible way!

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