Travis Fichtenbauer

Departure Date:
Return Date:
Local Institution:
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Local Advisor:
David Kaplan
Foreign Institution:
Astronomical Observatory of Cagliari
Foreign Advisor:
Delphine Perodin
Student Status:
  • Q. What country were you staying in?
    • Italy
  • Q. Where were you doing research?
    • Astronomical Observatory of Cagliari
  • Q. How long were you there?
    • Two months.
  • Q. What sort of research were you doing?
    • I was assisting with the recommissioning of the Sardinia Radio Telescope. This included: fixing all of the English grammatical errors on all of the websites related to the observatory and telescope, using a terminal to search for and find a bug in software used in data analysis, completing polarisation tests, and laying the foundations for a TOA pipeline for the telescope.
  • Q. Did being abroad influence the kind of research you’re doing?
    • Working at the observatory allowed me to become very comfortable using a terminal and pulsar software; both of which are very important in the research that I do.
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing about being abroad?
    • This experience was the first time that I was able to travel outside of the United States. I learned a lot about how vastly different life can be around the globe. One of the coolest things about being in Italy was learning and experiencing their love for food and their laid-back, slower-paced work environment.
  • Q. What’s your favorite new phrase from the language?
    • “Ciao!” It was definitely the most used word and the most important.
  • Q. What’s the hardest thing about being abroad?
    • The hardest thing about being abroad was being away from family and friends; especially being away from my fiance.
  • Q. What did you do in your free time?
    • I spent a lot of time exploring the city of Cagliari. On the weekends, Christos and I would try to go kayaking, hiking, or go to the beach. If none of those things happened, I was usually reading.
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad?
    • Seeing the nuraghe of the island was quite the sight. These ancient stone structures date to around 3000 years ago and there are thousands of them scattered throughout the island. I was also able to go to Athens, Greece at the end of my trip, so I visited the Acropolis and all of the ancient ruins there.
  • Q. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad?
    • I weirdest thing that I did was I ate casu marzu; it is basically rotting cheese with fly maggots in it. It’s considered a delicacy in Sardinia.
  • Q. What advice would you offer others thinking of going abroad?
    • I would advice people to be a little prepared with the language of the region that you are going to be in. It can feel a bit isolating if you don’t know what people are saying for two months.
  • Q. What skills have you learned abroad?
    • I learned how to drive in Europe. The roads are much more narrow than in the United States and people drive wildly there.
  • Q. Is there anything you’d do differently or anything you wish you’d have known?
    • I don’t think that I would have done anything differently. I feel like the whole experience was valuable just the way that it was.