Caroline Bamberger

Departure Date:
05/30/2017
Return Date:
08/10/2017
Local Institution:
Cornell University
Local Advisor:
Jim Cordes
Foreign Institution:
Square Kilometer Array
Foreign Advisor:
Sarah Bucher
Student Status:
Undergraduate
  • Q. What country were you staying in?
    • South Africa
  • Q. Where were you doing research?
    • Square Kilometer Array
  • Q. How long were you there?
    • 10 weeks
  • Q. What sort of research were you doing?
    • I was working on timing pulsars using data from the MeerKAT project and the Parkes telescope, as well as working on methods of removal of radio interference in the data. I also worked on quality control by looking over observation data and making sure the various antennae were functioning properly.
  • Q. Did being abroad influence the kind of research you’re doing?
    • The Square Kilometer Array was being commissioned while I was there, meaning it was not fully operational. Because of this, some of the work I did was to help the commissioning phase and I therefore learned a lot about the process of making such a large project fully functional and different issues that can arise.
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing about being abroad?
    • The coolest thing about being abroad was being able to explore South Africa when I wasn’t working. The country is incredibly beautiful and it was truly an amazing experience to get to see all of the landmarks and nature reserves and explore a completely different culture and environment.
  • Q. What’s your favorite new phrase from the language?
    • Since English was used in the workplace and in most places, I did not learn much of any of the various languages spoken in the region, although I did really enjoy hearing all of the different languages and dialects. South Africa in particular has a vast mix of languages and cultures and it was really cool getting to see how it all came together.
  • Q. What’s the hardest thing about being abroad?
    • There honestly was not much that was difficult about being abroad, as I enjoyed pretty much every part of it. It was hard not having a car or immediate means of transportation, but that was mostly remedied by using Uber, or getting rides from friends or coworkers. I also missed experiencing summer in the states since I was in a different hemisphere!
  • Q. What did you do in your free time?
    • In my free time I tried to explore the country as much as I could. We ended up hiking around a lot at the nature reserves and mountains in the area. South Africa has such beautiful and interesting places and we tried to go to many of them. I also made other undergrad/master-student friends at the office and got to experience some of their favorite places and favorite foods.
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad?
    • I had so many amazing experiences while abroad, its hard to pinpoint a favorite. One of my favorite places was the Silvermine Nature Reserve, which had phenomenal views Cape Town and the Winelands. The landscape is so unique it can’t really be compared to anything I’ve experienced in the States. It was also really amazing to just be immersed in a different culture for enough time to really get a feel for life there.
  • Q. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad?
    • I ate some interesting foods, including caterpillar and raw antelope!
  • Q. What advice would you offer others thinking of going abroad?
    • To anyone thinking of going abroad, I would say just do it, take any opportunity that comes your way. Being able to go to such an interesting place and meeting so many different people is an experience you cant quite match in the States. I was definitely nervous going into it, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
  • Q. What skills have you learned abroad?
    • I got more experience cooking for myself while in South Africa(and I still only know cooking temperatures in Celsius!). I also got more experience talking to professionals inside and outside the field, which is an important skill.
  • Q. Is there anything you’d do differently or anything you wish you’d have known?
    • If I could do it all over again, I would probably try to see more areas of South Africa. It would have been amazing to go see the Eastern Cape, Johannesburg, or the Northern Cape. South Africa has a lot of different landscapes which would have been amazing to see, but there was so much to do in the Cape Town area!