Michael Mingyar

Departure Date:
Return Date:
Local Institution:
West Virginia University
Local Advisor:
Maura McLaughlin
Foreign Institution:
Square Kilometre Array
Foreign Advisor:
Jeandrew Brink/Sarah Buchner
Student Status:
  • Q. What country were you staying in? South Africa
  • Q. Where were you doing research? SKA
  • Q. How long were you there? 2 months
  • Q. What sort of research were you doing? Attempting to model the effects in pulse profiles of pulsars orbiting black holes. Also learning the process of fitting for glitches in pulsar parameter files.
  • Q. Did being abroad influence the kind of research you’re doing? It made me sure that radio astronomy can be fun, interesting, and can lead to meeting and getting to know some very nice people.
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing about being abroad? Going into the city and getting to know the locals of a foreign nation is an experience that never gets old. Each different person has a different story and different customs that they can share, and listening to each of them provides insight into the world that we can only read about in the states.
  • Q. What’s your favorite new phrase from the language? Sadly everyone speaks english in cape town.
  • Q. What’s the hardest thing about being abroad? Learning to abide by local customs. Being in a country where you are both a foreigner and a minority was strange. In some cases talking to strangers opened up worlds of discussion, while in others it made me feel unsafe and uncomfortable. Also learning when and when not to make eye contact with strangers was a valuable skill.
  • Q. What did you do in your free time? We found both a normal gym and a rock gym, and learned to climb and belay while we were there!
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad? We stood at the edge of Table Mountain and looked over the edge to the city below. It was a magical experience.
  • Q. What advice would you offer others thinking of going abroad? Do it. You may be unsure of yourself now (whether you’re scared to be someplace foreign or you’re afraid of leaving your family and friends for the time you’re away), but once you start living there for a few weeks it will change who you are. When you get back, you’ll be so glad you went on that trip. The memories alone live fondly enough to call the entire trip worth it.
  • Q. What skills have you learned abroad? I learned to cook as well as rock climb! Both of those skills are used now in my daily life! I climb all the time as well as make my own three meals. Before I went abroad I was too lazy to even make myself a sandwich. Being away from my family and school forced me to stop being so lazy and make my own dang food.
  • Q. Is there anything you’d do differently or anything you wish you’d have known? If I had the chance I would go out more. I spent a lot of time in my house relaxing, but looking back I wish I would have done more things. Maybe gone on more wine tastings. You really can’t beat Stellenbosch’s wine.