I really wanted to change a career direction and to move from the environmental sciences towards environmental policy. Applying to a 4-week Science Policy Summer Institute offered by Duke University – referred to as a young ivy league university in the United States – seemed as the right choice.
Now that I attended the programme, I can confirm that this was the best choice that I made because I got admitted to a master’s in public policy at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology with a full scholarship. My enthusiasm for policy, doing an intensive summer programme right after graduation, must have reflected this to the interviewers and as a coincidence, one of the professors, also the head of division, who interviewed me also completed his studies in North Carolina near Duke University. Overall, I think that the summer institute gave me a great head start to my new master’s degree and helped me to familiarize myself with quantitative and qualitative analysis of policies.
I have been in the United States before when I was on a high school exchange programme, so I was not afraid of going to the Unites States itself. I was more worried about the summer institute and the level at which they will teach science policy that I had no background in. However, meeting the very diverse group of people that were attending the course made my fears disappear. We all came from different countries/ states, with different levels of education and from various subject areas, starting from microbiology through civil engineering to law. So, this did not end up being a problem at all. However, I had some issues with the accommodation that I was renting for the summer from full-time student. It was awfully DIRTY. After a long flight and an overall transportation time of around 12-14 hours to my new ‘home’, as my first thing to do was washing my sheets, vacuuming the floor and dusting my furniture. Couple days later, I saw a mouse and there were ants too… so yeah, the flat wasn’t really well-kept. Anyways, my flatmates who moved in a week later for the summer as well, were amazing people who I had a beer with, at our surprisingly nice balcony, every evening.
At the end of my programme, I got to know my classmates, made friends with my flatmates and did lots of unusual American things that I haven’t done before. For example, I went to a female polo game and a baseball game. The baseball game was followed by a super long firework show that I did not expect because anywhere else in the world, I’ve seen such long firework shows only on New Year’s Eve or National Days.
I am very grateful that the University of Edinburgh helped me, once again, to advance my career even further and to make lifelong memories.