My name is Sarah McFann and I am a chemical engineering and chemistry double major just finishing my first year at The University of Alabama. First semester freshman year I was fortunate enough to become an undergraduate member of the Arduengo group, an organic and physical chemistry research group on campus under Dr. Anthony Arduengo. That in and of itself was an incredibly rewarding and, oddly enough, fun experience, everything from the organic chemistry behind the research to the people I got to meet through the lab. One such person was Andrij Dreger, a post-doctoral researcher from Germany. In addition to introducing me to the wonderful world of chemistry research, he greatly piqued my interest in German culture and differences between cultures in general. I have many fond memories of the lively conversations we would have about German versus American political organization, welfare, and workplace norms – all occurring, of course, as we worked side-by-side to develop chromatography plates and set up reflux equipment. One thing these conversations brought my attention to, however, was that I was dreadfully American. If I ever wanted to be able to work and live on an international level, I would have to find some way to really immerse myself in another culture.
When Dr. Arduengo offered me the chance of a chemistry research internship under his colleague Dr. Yamamoto at Hiroshima University, I was probably the happiest girl on the face of the planet. Not only had my prayers to de-Americanize myself been answered, but I was being sent to JAPAN of all places. Ever since ninth grade when I saw my first anime, I have been a wee bit obsessed with Japanese culture and ideology, so the chance to actually go there for eight weeks? AHHH SO EXCITING! Although I have a rather puny Japanese vocabulary consisting of bits and pieces picked up from anime (“I am L!” “I am Kira!!”) and some slightly more useful phrases I have learned in preparation for my trip, I am as excited as can be! I leave May 29th, so hopefully my plane ride is as uneventful as my trip is eventful.
Goodbye America. Hello Japan!