Antonia Orsini

Departure Date:
Return Date:
Local Institution:
West Virginia University
Local Advisor:
Maura McLaughlin
Foreign Institution:
Osservitorio Astronomico di Cagliari
Foreign Advisor:
Marta Burgay
Student Status:
  • Q. What country were you staying in? A. Italy
  • Q. Where were you doing research? A. Osservatorio Astronomico di Cagliari
  • Q. How long were you there? A. Seven weeks
  • Q. What sort of research were you doing? A. In short, I was searching for millisecond pulsars in globular clusters, hoping for some binaries. I actually used raw data, though, so I got to go through the steps of cleaning it up, making it usable to search through, and searching through each observation on my own.
  • Q. Did being abroad influence the kind of research you’re doing? A. Not much! I’m still in research concerning pulsars, I just experienced a different aspect of the research while abroad.
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing about being abroad? A. I think the coolest thing was the research! I definitely learned a lot from going through all the data analysis myself, and getting to observe with the Sardinia Radio Telescope was awesome. (Can I say two things? I’m going to!) The culture in Sardinia was also wonderful. The food too! Everyone is so pleasant, and even if you’re not great with the language they’re incredibly understanding and try to help you. Not to mention that Cagliari was beautiful.
  • Q. What’s your favorite new phrase from the language? A. “Piante grasse!” It means “fat plants” in English, and that’s what they call succulent plants. I thought it was adorable!
  • Q. What’s the hardest thing about being abroad? A. It’s really weird being completely alone in an unfamiliar place, across the ocean from what you’re used to. It can be super nerve-wracking!
  • Q. What did you do in your free time? A. I went to the beach a couple times with some friends from the observatory - it was beautiful! Then I got to explore the city on foot and visit all the museums, galleries, and the botanical garden!
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad? A. I climbed Torre di San Pancrazio, which is a tower that was built in 1305 to protect against invaders. When you get to the top, you can see the whole of Cagliari laid out in front of you.
  • Q. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad? A. I suppose it’s not too crazy or bizarre, but I tasted some of the local foods. Normally I’m vegetarian, but I’ll give foods with meats a try while abroad. I actually tried snails for the first time! It wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. Also bottarga, which is cured fish roe. I’ve experienced two forms - powdered and sliced. The sliced was… a little much, but the powdered is great over spaghetti!
  • Q. What advice would you offer others thinking of going abroad? A. Read up a little on the culture! But never assume that you know everything about a place just by reading about it. Being there is a different story. We see the world through our own cultural lens, and it can be easy to judge or dismiss aspects of another culture because of that. So be open to experiencing new things while abroad, and allow yourself to let go of any cultural block that would prevent you from trying something.
  • Q. What skills have you learned abroad? A. I learned how to shop for groceries that I can carry home! It’s common to just walk everywhere (within reason), and I walked to the grocery store. My first trip was the worst because I didn’t even think about the weight, but I struck a balance rather quickly after that!
  • Q. Is there anything you’d do differently or anything you wish you’d have known? A. I had a free week at the end to explore Sardinia, and I didn’t know you needed an international driver’s license to rent a car. Whoops! It turned out just fine, though, as there was so much to do in Cagliari that was within walking distance.