Conference Days and Cat Cafes: Three Days in Belgium

 

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As someone whose eyes used to glaze over every time she attempted to read an academic article, I never thought I’d co-op as a research assistant, let alone attend an academic conference and enjoy myself. To my surprise, that’s exactly what happened when I attended the Conference on Multilingualism in Ghent, Belgium last September.

I had the opportunity to travel to COM 2016 with my colleagues in the psycholinguistics lab I’m currently working at in Germany. Since I’m trying to figure out whether a career in research is a good fit for me, attending the conference was the perfect way to get a feel for the scope of work being done in my area of interest, while also providing the opportunity for me to network with professionals in the field. However, I didn’t realize how truly shaping the experience would be, on both personal and professional levels.

The sheer range of ideas presented at the conference was mind-boggling. While the conference was centered around multilingualism, the presentations given stemmed from educational, social, developmental, and medical roots, reflecting the wide variety of stances from which multilingualism can be explored. Additionally, even if some presenters discussed the same topic, there was often a large range of opinions that emerged. The conference actually opened with what was noted as being a “heated discussion” between scholars in the field who had contrasting opinions about executive functions and the role they may play in the bilingual brain. Four speakers with varying opinions on that subject presented their talks, and the discussion that followed the presentations was way more intense than anything I expected to hear at an academic conference. I find that I rarely question the contents of academic articles because I assume whoever wrote them knows better about the area in question than I do. However, interactions like this taught me that questioning the research of others can be instrumental to making new discoveries and creating relevant debates within a field.

Attending this conference also made me realize how such a forum provides the perfect opportunity for networking. If you are especially interested in what some researchers are studying, attending their presentations allows you to learn more about their work, and catching them during one of the countless coffee breaks provides a perfect casual opportunity to connect with them. Additionally, speaking to other attendees about the work they and their colleagues do can serve as a great way to create contacts for yourself. For instance, after speaking to a postdoc from the University of London about my interest in sign language, she gave me the name of someone in her lab researching sign so I could look up her work and potentially contact her, a connection I never would have made without attending the conference.

Perhaps the most important thing I got out of the conference was the heightened ability to connect with the authors behind the research being presented. Since I often have a hard time relating to academic articles on a personal level, having ideas that would fall flat to me on a page be explained by the authors themselves made complex studies feel a lot more accessible. As much of the research I’m currently doing on co-op involves second-language processing (a topic relevant to multilingualism), it was cool to flip through my abstract booklet and realize that I had already read the work of several of the presenters; hearing what I had previously read be discussed brought me to a new level of clarification, which I gratefully brought back to Germany with me.

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Aside from all the insight I gained from this conference, it also afforded me the amazing opportunity to go to Belgium. Ghent was an especially charming city, as evidenced by the classic buildings and cat cafe I found while walking the streets. Plus, unwinding from a long day of presentations by eating a waffle on the edge of the River Leie became a go-to post-conference ritual. Both waffles and conference considered, I couldn’t have asked for a better three days in Belgium.

 

This blog was written by Nicolette Pire, a junior Combined Linguistics and English major. She is currently pursuing her second co-op as a research assistant in the psycholinguistics group at the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany. An aspiring polyglot, she’s using her first international experience to immerse herself in as many cultures as possible while sharing her international faux pas along the way. Feel free to reach out to her at pire.n@husky.neu.edu.

Beyond the Green Line: Washington D.C.

 

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BEYOND THE GREEN LINE is a blog series featured on the Northeastern University Career Development Blog, ‘The Works’.  Each post highlights a major city and gives you an inside look at the local food, culture, music scene, the industries that are thriving there, and some current job openings in the area.

This post written by guest author third year Northeastern student Molly Osmulski.

Did you know that aside from being home to the President, our nation’s capital is the headquarters for 15 Fortune 500 companies including Capital One, Marriott International and Discovery Communications? Business Insider ranked Washington, D.C. the #1 “Top City for Educated Millennials.” It has seen the largest growth in its millennial population of any major U.S. city since 2008.washington-d-c

D.C. offers culture, diversity and plenty of government, professional and technical jobs. Last year, job growth in D.C. outpaced the country’s average with almost 30,000 new jobs in professional services added last year alone!

In 2016 alone, over 65 Northeastern students have co-oped in D.C. and many alumni are thriving there too – you can connect with them through the well-established D.C. Alumni network.

Wondering what your fellow huskies think about D.C.? Ask Divya Erram, a current Northeastern student and DC co-op connector working at Advoc8, and she’ll tell you:

            “Advoc8 has given me opportunities I never imagined, including attending and working at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this past summer, participating in event walkthroughs with our team in multiple states, and help[ing] d-c-studentcreate and order merchandise for political campaigns and companies.  I am especially lucky to have a co-op supervisor who is a Northeastern Alum, Ben Adams (‘15), who has really made a name for himself in the District and has become a role model to me. Because of this relationship, I have been able to see firsthand what a Northeastern Husky can accomplish in the real world.

 

I am currently considering options that would allow me to move back to Washington, D.C. once I graduate.  I truly believe that I have found a home here. Almost everyone here is a transplant from d-c-student-at-marketsomewhere else whether a different city, state, country, or continent which makes the city rich with culture, cuisine, and events. There is not a day that goes by without something to do and is a great place for any young professional.”

 

 

 

 

 

Divya Erram enjoying Union Market, an artisanal food market

Some other perks to D.C.? See below…

Food and Drink:

  • Try a Half Smoke at the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl (even President Obama can’t resist)d-c-food
  • Grab lunch from one of the city’s many gourmet food trucks
  • Enjoy authentic wat and injera at an Ethiopian restaurants

Culture:

  • Welcome spring with the National Cherry Blossom Festival each year
  • Explore the world during Passport D.C. when all the city’s embassies and cultural d-c-cherry-blossom-nations-capitalorganizations hold open houses and special programming
  • Enjoy an opera or ballet at The Kennedy Center
  • Museum hop for days and check out the National Portrait Gallery, the National Air and Space Museum and the all the Smithsonians, among many, many others; if you prefer the less conventional, check out The Fridge, a DC gallery specializing in street art

Activities:

  • Go kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding or even swan boating in the Potomac River
  • See a Redskins, Nationals or Wizards game
  • Pay tribute to our founders d-c-nationals-gameand visit all the city’s many monuments
  • Explore Theodore Roosevelt Island – great for fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing
  • See a free Friday night concert every week from May – September at Yards Park

 

Divya Erram at a Washington Nationals game with fellow NU students RoseMarie Kay, co-oping at the House of Representatives, and Dayo Hall, co-oping at International Law Institute

Feeling convinced? Below are some jobs to consider while you anxiously await our next Beyond the Green Line post on Austin, TX next week!

Job Opportunities – log into NUcareers to apply!

  • Capital One Associate, Commercial Specialty Underwriter, Healthcare Cash Flow
  • Defense Point Security Forensic Analyst
  • PublicRelay Media Analyst
  • National Public Radio Social Media Strategist
  • Advanced Simulation Technology Application Engineer; Embedded Software Engineer
  • Mapbox Mobile Support Developer, IOS; Information Security Engineer
  • American College of Cardiology Foundation Member Strategy Support Specialist; Senior Project Coordinator
  • Micropact Operations Business Analyst
  • National Cooperative Bank Credit Analyst, Commercial Real Estate
  • RAND Corporation Statistical Programmer
  • Social Tables Product Designer; Writer, Content & Editorial
  • RepEquity Account Coordinator; Business Development Associate

We want your feedback!

Leave us a comment if there’s anything we’ve missed or a particular city you’d like us to profile!  If you’d like to have your photos considered for the next post, send over your Austin photos now!

This post was authored by Molly Osmulski, a third year Northeastern student. Molly is working toward a degree in Marketing with a minor in International Affairs. She works part time at the Northeastern Career Development office and has previously completed a co-op at Travel + Leisure Magazine in NYC and has studied abroad at the London School of Economics. When she is not studying or searching for her next co-op, she loves travelling, thrift shopping and trying new foods. You can contact her at osmulski.m@husky.neu.edu.

 

The Four People You Meet in Foreign Countries

International Travel

Throughout my time in Uganda and in other travels, I’ve come across many foreigners that I’ve been able to fit into one or two of five categories in my head. This is by no means a complete or all-encompassing list, but a very generalized set of characters that I frequently meet abroad.

The hopeful. This person is the one that is most likely to stay long-term. They enjoy their lifestyle, and they find meaning in their work that gives them a reason to hang around and stay motivated. They are hopeful for the future of the country and believe they are making a difference. This person is great to know, as they are most familiar with the local culture and can give you insight and advice for your time in the country.

The cynic. Hearing this person speak makes you wonder why they are still here. They hate the food, the people, the work. They usually don’t last long, and if they are put here on an assignment, they will complain the entire time until they leave. The cynic isn’t the most fun person to be around, but it can sometimes be amusing to see a person struggle in challenging situations (see Paris Hilton working on a ranch in The Simple Life). Even the optimist has bad days, and the cynic is a nice companion on those days when you need someone to whine with.

The partier. Plenty of fresh-out-of-college, low budget young adults go to developing countries in search for the wild experience of a lifetime in a secluded part of the world. They are usually non-communicative or un-contactable, causing their parents relentless worry and fear for the worst. They’re fun nightlife people, and have plenty of great stories to tell about crazy situations they’ve encountered.

The wanderer. This may be the lone traveler, or the backpacking couple that is making its way across a country or continent. They take comfort in not having a tight schedule or work obligations, and are taking advantage of a period in life where they can take an extended period of time to see the world and experience a part of the world that they know nothing about. You’ll probably meet this person only once, but with some communication and planning you might be able to see them again on a random trip in another country.

When you travel, you meet a lot of interesting people. It’s important to be open-minded and, contrary to the traditional advice, willing to talk to strangers. You never know what you could learn by simply starting a conversation on a bus or in a restaurant. As my time in Uganda is coming to an end, I can say that one of the best things about being here has been meeting the range of characters, both local people and foreigners. I’ve met a Russian wedding dress designer, a kindergarten teacher, several Peace Corps volunteers, a lone traveler making her way down the east coast of Africa, a Spanish salsa instructor, a missionary working in the nomadic Karamoja, a Canadian couple running a primary school, and a Ugandan man trying to establish a turkey farm.

Mika White is a second year biochemistry major at Northeastern expecting to graduate in 2018. This semester she is on her first co-op in Uganda interning at a rural hospital in the town of Iganga and establishing a malnutrition treatment program in Namutumba District. She loves to travel, read, and run. Feel free to reach out to her at white.mik@husky.neu.edu and LinkedIn, and read her personal blog at mikawhite25.wordpress.com.