Stella Ocker

Departure Date:
Return Date:
Local Institution:
Oberlin College
Local Advisor:
Dan Stinebring
Foreign Institution:
McGill University
Foreign Advisor:
Victoria Kaspi
Student Status:
  • Q. What country were you staying in?
    • Canada
  • Q. Where were you doing research?
    • McGill Space Institute
  • Q. How long were you there?
    • 10 weeks
  • Q. What sort of research were you doing?
    • I was studying the repeating fast radio burst (FRB), a mysterious repeating source of fast, high-energy bursts of radio emission. My project built a simulation to determine whether the FRB was consistent with a mathematical model known as a Poisson process.
  • Q. Did being abroad influence the kind of research you’re doing?
    • Vicky’s group is well known for studying fast radio bursts, so in the sense that I was abroad doing research with her, yes.
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing about being abroad?
    • It’s fascinating experiencing a research workplace from a foreign perspective - Americans and Canadians have different approaches to being in the workplace and balancing work and pleasure. I gained a new perspective on how to psychologically approach work and how to collaborate with fellow students.
  • Q. What’s your favorite new phrase from the language?
    • “Tabernacle!” (it’s a Quebecois swear)
  • Q. What’s the hardest thing about being abroad?
    • It’s hard being far from all of the people you know and love - even with modern methods of communication, you feel the distance.
  • Q. What did you do in your free time?
    • I loved exploring the different neighborhoods of Montreal. Most of my friends were made at work, but had already been in Montreal for some time and knew the best places to go. Montreal residents know how to appreciate the warmth of summer, and it was great fun discovering new outside food digs. My favorite was probably the cat cafe!
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad?
    • The cat cafe - although apparently they have those in the states as well!
  • Q. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad?
    • Poutine. Trying to explain how delicious poutine is to people who’ve never tried it is nearly impossible.
  • Q. What advice would you offer others thinking of going abroad?
    • Going abroad is a wonderful experience if you learn how to cut loose and take whatever opportunity comes your way. It’s important to take time for yourself, especially when you’re working hard on your research project, but don’t be afraid to go on an adventure - whether alone or with a stranger you’ve only just met.
  • Q. What skills have you learned abroad?
    • I learned how to cook, used a laundromat for the first time, and practiced my broken French on the unwitting grocery store cashiers.
  • Q. Is there anything you’d do differently or anything you wish you’d have known?
    • I wish I’d spoken French more and taken advantage of Montreal’s bilingual culture and society.