Why I went: Going into undergrad, I knew that studying abroad would be one of my main goals. I grew up in Buffalo and went to school in Buffalo, so I wanted to see another part of the world.
Choosing France: I went to France because UB had this really good exchange program at a school called ENSEA — you literally take all the same classes you would be taking at UB, so you can study abroad without getting behind.
The classes were in English. I didn't know any French going in, but I made French friends and took French after coming back to UB.
The art of life: I loved experiencing another culture and lifestyle. People there really value what they call the "art of life," which means that you work hard, but that it's also important to have time to relax.
I felt it was very different from the American lifestyle, which is all about work.
People used to ask me, "What do you do for fun?" and I had to think about it. I was always busy with homework and clubs. Now, in grad school, I prioritize free time. I go for a walk or to a café. I think it's important to have balance because you can be more productive if you're a happier person.
Summer in Paris: I lived in Paris for a couple of months the summer after I graduated.
It was pure vacation — I went with my best friend and we had just finished college and were going to grad school, so it was our congratulations trip. I introduced her to a friend in France, and they're still dating.
What I'm doing now: My research at UC Berkeley deals with solution-processable light-emitting diodes (LEDs). I'm making LEDs out of polymers — flexible materials. I did research in Israel last summer as part of my degree program.
The decision to study abroad was one of the best I made in my life. When you're in a new place, you're unfamiliar with everything and you learn to find your own way. I gained another level of self-confidence, and the ability to feel comfortable in new situations.