Prior to beginning this REU, I had no expectations. I boarded a flight headed for a state I had never been to, people I have never met before, and at a university studying a discipline I had never explored. I was ready and willing to experience anything, although I was nervous.
After my arrival, I was in a whirlwind of memorizing people’s names and where they are from. I was overloaded with information, and it did little to help me set my expectations for the program. It wasn’t until the dinner at Steven’s house that I began to realize the nature of this REU. Steven and Elliot described an adventure of sorts, where strangers became best friends and where we could comfortably discuss new research that was unknown to us at the beginning of the summer. My nervousness still persisted, but I felt more assured in a program that had reliable experience.
Over the first three days, I went through orientations and tours with the other REU interns. I have clearer expectations for the program. I want to feel acclimated to the Iowa State campus, and be comfortable in exploring and using the different facilities. For my research project, I want to specifically know what I can contribute to the project. I want to answer:
- What am I good at?
- What can I use from my background to provide something that the other team members can not?
I also hope to place this whole REU experience in the context of how I can apply the skills I have learned to a job, and in the future, graduate school. I will keep reflecting on these skills and answering the above questions through my future blog posts.