Gabriella Yehenew Agazie

Departure Date:
05/27/2018
Return Date:
08/03/2018
Local Institution:
West Virginia University
Local Advisor:
Maura McLaughlin
Foreign Institution:
Swinburne University of Technology
Foreign Advisor:
Matthew Bailes
Student Status:
Undergraduate
  • Q. What country were you staying in?
    • Australia
  • Q. Where were you doing research?
    • Swinburne University of Technology
  • Q. How long were you there?
    • Two months
  • Q. What sort of research were you doing?
    • We were tasked with building a comprehensive database of radio pulsars. We complied information on radio pulsars that was scattered across several different databases, such as pulse profiles, empherides, parallax tables, and pulse time of arrival plots.
  • Q. Did being abroad influence the kind of research you’re doing?
    • It opened my eyes to a lot of different areas of research I hadn’t considered, or was aware of. In astronomy , the research I really had any exposure to was pulsars and we met a lot of people who were doing work in localization of fast radios bursts, galaxy formation, and data science.
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing about being abroad?
    • The coolest thing about being abroad is being able to explore so many new places and meet new people who grew up with a different culture than I did. Comparing Australian and American culture was fascinating, because there were things I took for granted back home that were inexplicable to my Australian counterparts and vice versa.
  • Q. What’s your favorite new phrase from the language?
    • Cheers!
  • Q. What’s the hardest thing about being abroad?
    • Being far away from family. Since I had a fourteen hour time difference with home, I had to plan out calls to anyone back home, rather than whenever I felt like it. Also, the idea of being so far away that visiting home is impossible. When I was at my apartment at college, it was always with the knowledge that home was a relatively short drive away. But being on a different hemisphere added a level of separation that was harder to deal with.
  • Q. What did you do in your free time?
    • In our free time, we explored Melbourne, which is where we stayed for most of our time in Australia. We went to museums, tried new types of food, attended Comic-con, explored parks, and went on the Eureka Skydeck which is currently the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad?
    • The coolest thing I did was attend my first Comic-con. I’m a huge Marvel and Star wars fan and had the time of my life there. I met amazing cosplayers, saw some of the actors that play my favorite characters, and collected a ridiculous amount of souvenirs.In the states there were no Comic-cons anywhere near where I live and even then they are expensive and hard to get tickets for.
  • Q. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad?
    • One thing that was very odd was that for domestic flights in Australia you don’t have to show ID. We traveled to Canberra for a week to visit the Moonglow Synthesis Telescope, and in the airport I had my passport out for check-in, security, and boarding and it was never checked. At first, I thought I was doing something wrong or had accidentally skipped some checkpoint where that was supposed to happen. Also, at security I tried to take my shoes off, like you do for American flights, and got some weird looks from the security personnel until someone explained that it wasn’t necessary.
  • Q. What advice would you offer others thinking of going abroad?
    • Don’t be afraid to explore! Also, before you leave get a good amount of currency converted, because it is easier, safer, and cheaper at your local bank than a currency converter abroad. Leave plenty of extra room in your suitcase. You will end up buying more cool new clothes and souvenirs than you realize. We ended up needing to buy an extra bag to take everything home!
  • Q. What skills have you learned abroad?
    • I learned how to navigate a city train and tram system. It took a little while to get the hang of it, and involved a few instances of taking a tram in the opposite direction of where we were trying to go!
  • Q. Is there anything you’d do differently or anything you wish you’d have known?
    • I wish we had stayed longer! It was an amazing experience, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. One thing I wish I had known earlier was to have a good phone number for our AirBnB host. We had a brief situation where our code to get into the AirBnB stopped working and had to depend on our host answering her email quickly to get inside again.