A photo of Cornell engineering student standing in front of a call box in London.Hello everyone! My name is Shristi Varshney, and I am from Framingham, Massachusetts. I am a senior majoring in chemical & biomolecular engineering and minoring in business. I am also concurrently pursuing a Masters in Engineering (M.Eng.) in chemical & biomolecular engineering and will be graduating with that in December 2020 with both my B.S. and M.Eng. This blog post is about my study abroad experience in London in the summer of 2018!

I participated in a summer laboratory program at Imperial College in London, England with 11 other Cornell Chemical Engineers (ChemE). The program was very educational, and I was able to use experiences from several experiments and projects I completed for interviews. For example, all Cornell ChemEs worked together as a team and developed a startup, operating, and shutdown procedure for a four-story Carbon Capture Pilot Plant and responded to alarms calmly and efficiently. We also participated in a rig building competition in which we designed and constructed a rig for which we could control the flow rate and liquid level of water between two tanks.

A photo of Cornell engineering students in Edinburgh, ScotlandI not only deepened my relationships with my fellow Cornell ChemEs but also made new relationships with professors at Imperial College and other students from universities. We did not have lab every day; occasionally we had lab the full day, but most days we would have a three-hour session in the morning or afternoon. Consequently, we had free time to explore London during the day. Furthermore, our professor had us submit most of the reports in the fall semester so that we could enjoy our time in the United Kinghom (UK) without any stress.

For example, one weekend my friend and I decided to take a train to see the University of Oxford and learn more about the city and history of the oldest university in the English-speaking world. We were in awe from the architecture and vast size of the university. Additionally, the FIFA 2018 World Cup was ongoing at this time. Whenever England was playing, my classmates and I would go to restaurants and watch the games with the locals, and it was truly exhilarating because the English are fiercely passionate about football. One game I distinctly remember (England vs. Colombia) went into overtime and England won. My classmates and I were standing at the restaurant in one spot for 5 hours cheering along with the crowd! Furthermore, my classmates and I explored all of the major museums such as The British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, and Natural History Museum where we were introduced to artifacts from all over the world, including the Rosetta Stone! We even had a 5-day break in our schedule, so we traveled to Scotland! We took a 12-hour bus ride to Edinburgh from London and stayed in a hostel with pod style beds. It was such a unique experience! We took part in various city tours, explored castles, and tasted local dishes such as haggis which is made with a sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs. I am a vegetarian, and the restaurants also offered a vegetarian version of it, so I was able to take part in tasting this dish with my friends (to a certain extent).

My summer abroad experience at Imperial College was truly an unforgettable one. I will forever treasure the knowledge I gained regarding chemical engineering and the UK alongside the memories I made with my peers and mentors. My classmates and I are actually discussing traveling to the UK again to relive the memories in 2025. That is how much we enjoyed our time there together.

~Shristi ’20, chemical engineering