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Physicist in America

10 October 2018

4 mins

My name is Elliot and I am a Physics and Mathematics student currently studying abroad at Purdue University in Indiana. Last year at Loughborough I was in my 3rd year and I was the department chair for Physics. I have hopes of completing my masters and going on to get my PhD. I bet you’re wondering how a physicist-in-training ends up in the American mid-west?

Approaching my final year, I really wanted to develop into a researcher, so I thought a year studying abroad in a new environment with different modules would give me an edge. Also, I love to travel! After I finish at Purdue, I want to travel the states, then do a teaching and volunteering tour of South East Asia before I return home. Thanks to Loughborough, I was able to apply to study abroad, and here I am! FYI – if you decide to come to the mid-west US, it’s hot, like really hot, and everything is so much bigger!


If you want to study abroad, first, you need to know where you are going. If you hop over to the Loughborough International site you can get searching. Here you can filter for universities by department, location and more. Once you’ve found somewhere you like, get in touch with your departmental coordinator; (you can find out who they are on your department’s website) they are who will supervise you through the placement. Once you have met with them, you will need to get an application. Usually, this requires you to have a 2:1 average and a personal statement about why you want to go. Once you submit your application, it’s a waiting game until about February, when they announce if you have the placement. Then the real work begins, getting a visa, medical insurance; but Loughborough will help you along the way with this too.


When you arrive the first thing is, don’t panic. The second thing is, you are going to panic. The third thing is, it’s okay to panic. You have just flown thousands of miles and left everyone you know behind! When I arrived, I was supposed to land in Chicago, but due to bad weather ended up in Milwaukee, thankfully things got sorted, but stuff will go wrong and there isn’t much you can do to fix that, just roll with it! However, you can be organised; make lists! I’m old-fashioned so I did a paper list but write down essential things you need to do when you arrive, such as; check in with the university, set up a bank account, go to the doctor and apply for social security. If you need help, speak to the university, they are there to help you and also check in with your supervisor back home.

If you’re anything like me, your first day will be one of the most daunting experiences you will ever have; all I wanted to do was go home! For me, this passed quickly and I started to think that I had to make the most of the opportunity of spending the year in a different country and have as much fun as possible. I even got to do freshers again!

In my first couple of months here I have: been trying to sell Loughborough as a study abroad options to Americans, as you can see in the lovely photo above. I tried my best at firing a few rounds of freedom, but my aim isn’t very good. I’ve also taken part in multiple events for international science students, including a trip to Chicago and a corn maze excursion. I’ve attended all the home American Football games, or more accurately, ‘hand egg ball’. It feels like the rest of the world turn up to these events too – incredibly, at least 40 000 people regularly turn up to the university games and that’s not just students, its half the town!

So right now, I am going into the 8th week of term and I am absolutely loving it over here. Although I do have to keep telling them how to spell ‘colour’ correctly and I keep looking the wrong way when crossing the street. For the next year I may be chanting boiler up, but in my heart, I will always walk on water.

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