Abroad and on track: Science majors study in Europe through international consortium
Being a Temple science major means doing really cool things: working alongside experienced researchers, using advanced — and expensive — equipment, and occasionally handling a virus or sulfuric acid. But because most science programs have a very rigorous sequence of courses — biology majors, for example, must take “Organic Chemistry II” in their third year before taking “Cell Structure and Function” in their fourth year — science students have often missed out on something else very cool: an opportunity to study abroad.
Through the Trans-Atlantic Science Student Exchange Program (TASSEP), a consortium of universities from Europe, Canada and the United States, Temple science majors can now study at one of 19 European universities in 10 countries for up to a full academic year. The goal is to enable students to take most of their junior-level courses abroad and still be able to graduate on time. Since the program began in the spring semester of 2012, four Temple students have gone abroad while six international students have come to Main Campus.
Aseem Malhotra, a biology major who graduated in 2012 and is now at the School of Medicine, studied at Lund University in Sweden. “Some of my courses included molecular biomedicine, bioimaging, Swedish social policy and an introductory Swedish-language course,” he said. “My time at Lund was an amazing experience.”
Many science students want to go abroad but still finish their degree on time, so “TASSEP solves that conundrum,” said Eric Borguet, professor of chemistry. “With Aseem, I did have to cajole him just a bit to apply.”
Ka Li, a biology major, is studying at the Université de Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris (UPMC), one of the most respected science schools in France. In addition to a French language course, Li is enrolled in “Biostatistics with Linear Algebra,” “Biochemistry” and “Human Physiology with Anatomical, Experimental, and Histological Approaches.” All her courses are conducted in French.
“I studied French for six years, but I still found it difficult, especially in the beginning, to pay attention to the professor, understand the materials and communicate with my colleagues,” said Li. “The instruction methods are very different at the junior-year level. Most UPMC students decide their specialist track freshman year, so they have already taken more advanced biology classes in their sophomore year than American students. I had to review these advanced science subjects in greater depth and adjust my learning style.”
Another Temple student, chemistry major Ashley Truxal, recently earned a €1,200 scholarship from UPMC. “All of our TASSEP students have been excellent ambassadors for Temple,” said Borguet.
Outside of the classroom, Li enjoys traveling across Europe and volunteering for a local organization that works to alleviate homelessness and poverty. It was that work which gave her the opportunity to meet France’s President François Hollande. That’s another very cool thing.
To learn more about the program’s academic requirement, students should contact Sara Lynott, Education Abroad Coordinator, at email@example.com or 1-0723. The Education Abroad office will host TASSEP information sessions on Thursday, Jan. 31, at 11 a.m. and Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 4 p.m. in Room 200 of Tuttelman Learning Center. The application deadline is March 1.
- Greg Fornia