Alexander E. McEwen

Departure Date:
Return Date:
Local Institution:
West Virginia University
Local Advisor:
Dr. Maura Mclaughlin
Foreign Institution:
Bielefeld University
Foreign Advisor:
Dr. Joris Verbiest
Student Status:
  • Q.What country were you staying in? Germany
  • Q.Where were you doing research? Bielefeld University
  • Q.How long were you there? 7 weeks
  • Q.What sort of research were you doing? I studied the difference between several ephemerides using simulated pulsar data. Ephemerides are files that contain information about the masses and trajectories of the objects in our solar system. Different countries have independently created these files for various space missions/studies, and there are discrepancies that can cause altered data.
  • Q.Did being abroad influence the kind of research you’re doing? Not really, as I study pulsars here at WVU as well. Dr. Verbiest in Bielefeld did suggest the project, but it is a project that could easily have been done here as well.
  • Q.What’s the coolest thing about being abroad? I love the sociological aspects of being immersed in a different culture like that, even though it was a country not entirely different from the US. Interacting with people, tasting the food (and beer), and seeing a country that is several hundred years older than the US was pretty inspiring.
  • Q.What’s your favorite new phrase from the language? “Your money isn’t gone - someone else is just holding onto it”
  • Q.What’s the hardest thing about being abroad? I missed my folks back home. That was definitely toughest.
  • Q.What did you do in your free time? I biked around a lot, checking out different parts of the city and nearby parks. I traveled around the country a bit on two occasions, so that involved catching trains and exploring.
  • Q.What’s the coolest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad? I went to a Renaissance Faire at the castle in Bielefeld, which was pretty fun. But their botanical gardens are also quite beautiful.
  • Q.What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad? There is a very popular breakfast food in Germany that is essentially raw pork chopped up with onions on bread.
  • Q.What advice would you offer others thinking of going abroad? Do it - it will give you a ton of interesting experiences.
  • Q.What skills have you learned abroad? Just living alone in a place far away from home - I think that is a skill all on its own!
  • Q.Is there anything you’d do differently or anything you wish you’d have known? Don’t think so - it was pretty awesome!