Students Expanding Horizons

Students Expanding Horizons

Jul 24
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

Many students at the U of I have the opportunity to study abroad to expand their horizons. Whitney Vanderpool is one of those students.  Whitney is a senior in food science who was able to travel to China through the University of Illinois for a research project. The following is a blog of her reflections from the experience.

This summer, I had the opportunity to travel to China.  Along with a group of five other University of Illinois students, I participated in scientific research at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou.  Each of us worked in a lab under the guidance of a graduate student, and my research focus was reducing the antigenicity of milk protein in infant formula while maintaining the flavor.  Most weekday mornings, I would work in the lab performing experiments, but I would also help various graduate students revise the scientific papers they were working on.  As a result of my participation in research, I was able to practice the skills I learned in lab from the University of Illinois as well as my scientific writing skills.  One thing that really stood out to me was the fact that the research labs as well as the teaching facilities at Zhejiang University closely resembled those at the University of Illinois.  Even in a country as far away as China, scientific research is still performed in a very similar manner.  

As well as participating in research, our group participated in other activities.  One of these activities was taking a Chinese language and culture course.  From this class, we learned basic Mandarin as well as an introduction to Chinese culture.  On the weekends, we would travel to various locations such as Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, and Yiwu to tour food companies and witness firsthand how they operate.  We even got the opportunity to tour Zhejiang University’s cafeteria system and view the process of preparing meals for students.  To add to these experiences, our group visited sites such as the Great Wall, the Six Harmonies Pagoda, a tea house, the Forbidden City, the Oriental Pearl TV tower, the Bird’s Nest, and the Water Cube.  By traveling around China, we were able to practice our Mandarin language skills when communicating with taxi drivers and shopkeepers, ordering in restaurants, and asking for directions.

As a result of traveling to China, I have expanded my global perspective, accumulated confidence and self-assurance, developed my scientific research and lab skills, and learned the basics of a new language.  In addition, I made memories and gained friends that I value very much.  Participating in this study abroad experience has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.


Whitney enjoying the site-seeing in China