Feb 3, 2014
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Hey guys,

I am planning on studying abroad in a Spanish-speaking country Fall 2016 with the main objective of becoming highly conversational. The question is where to go.

I've been thinking of going to Spain for its rich culture and proximity to the rest of Europe. Put simply, it looks like it would be a blast.

Here's my dilemma: I met with my research PI today, and we talked about my long term role in the lab. I've been in the lab since May and he's already saying that I'm "earning my way onto a publication" in the future. This is great and unexpected news, and I'd hate to jeopardize getting a publication by being gone for an entire semester a year from now (I'm not sure of the timeline of this publication). When I mentioned studying abroad, he suggested doing our school's exchange program with a university in Toluca, Mexico. Our lab has a well established connection with them, so I could easily continue my research there while still learning Spanish. One downside to Mexico is that it probably wouldn't be quite as fun an experience as being in Spain where my only responsibility would be studying Spanish. Second, Toluca doesn't look like it has much to offer, but it is close to Mexico City.

Should I cover my bases for a publication and go to Mexico? Or should I put research on hold and have a trip of a lifetime in Spain?
 

gonnif

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Is your long term to have for a semester or to enhance your application to get into medical school? If the former goto Spain. If the latter goto Mexico
 
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md-2020

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I've been thinking of going to Spain for its rich culture and proximity to the rest of Europe. Put simply, it looks like it would be a blast.

Here's my dilemma: I met with my research PI today, and we talked about my long term role in the lab. I've been in the lab since May and he's already saying that I'm "earning my way onto a publication" in the future. This is great and unexpected news, and I'd hate to jeopardize getting a publication by being gone for an entire semester a year from now (I'm not sure of the timeline of this publication). When I mentioned studying abroad, he suggested doing our school's exchange program with a university in Toluca, Mexico. Our lab has a well established connection with them, so I could easily continue my research there while still learning Spanish. One downside to Mexico is that it probably wouldn't be quite as fun an experience as being in Spain where my only responsibility would be studying Spanish. Second, Toluca doesn't look like it has much to offer, but it is close to Mexico City.

Should I cover my bases for a publication and go to Mexico? Or should I put research on hold and have a trip of a lifetime in Spain?
Spain rocks, and is >>>> Mexico. Chances are you will also have time to hit up some other European destinations, unless your program is super strict time-wise.

Toluca is a ****ty city and very dangerous.

The bolded is sounding alot like a "carrot and stick" honeypot that PIs sometimes use to take advantage of free, motivated labor. When I looked for research, I looked at positions that straight up told me, "there's work to be done immediately, and you will be given credit on papers." The one I did for all 4 years of undergrad also paid me. I've been told by some that pay is hard to come by but several of my friends in undergrad also got such spots so I guess it might be a chance/luck of the draw thing.

TLDR: your research does not sound good enough to sacrifice you dream study trip to Spain for.
 
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OP
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Feb 3, 2014
5
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Spain rocks, and is >>>> Mexico. Chances are you will also have time to hit up some other European destinations, unless your program is super strict time-wise.

Toluca is a ****ty city and very dangerous.

The bolded is sounding alot like a "carrot and stick" honeypot that PIs sometimes use to take advantage of free, motivated labor. When I looked for research, I looked at positions that straight up told me, "there's work to be done immediately, and you will be given credit on papers." The one I did for all 4 years of undergrad also paid me. I've been told by some that pay is hard to come by but several of my friends in undergrad also got such spots so I guess it might be a chance/luck of the draw thing.

TLDR: your research does not sound good enough to sacrifice you dream study trip to Spain for.
This is definitely what my gut tells me. I feel like being totally immersed in another culture is an opportunity that might never come again. I just can't get past potentially ruining my chances at what I perceive to be a great accomplishment for an undergrad: getting published.

If I did go to Spain, I would still have 2 semesters and a summer to do research, so maybe it's not such a big deal. I guess I'll talk it over with my PI. He did say to not let him sway my decision.
 

LizzyM

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If you really want to be conversational, go to Mexico. No sense in learning to converse in the Spanish equivalent of British English is you will be practicing medicine in the US with patients from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central America, etc.

If you want to do the European Grand Tour thing that college students do these days, then obviously, Spain is a good place to be. With cheap airfare, students tend to travel quite a bit on weekends. Be brutally honest with yourself and determine what it is that you really want to accomplish in Fall 2016. One question: will this be your junior year?
 
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OP
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Feb 3, 2014
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If you really want to be conversational, go to Mexico. No sense in learning to converse in the Spanish equivalent of British English is you will be practicing medicine in the US with patients from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central America, etc.

If you want to do the European Grand Tour thing that college students do these days, then obviously, Spain is a good place to be. With cheap airfare, students tend to travel quite a bit on weekends. Be brutally honest with yourself and determine what it is that you really want to accomplish in Fall 2016. One question: will this be your junior year?
Yes, it will be a junior year of sorts. I will be applying Summer 2017 and graduating Fall 2017.

What I really want to accomplish Fall 2016 is Spanish proficiency. As much as I like research, I guess what scares me about the Mexico opportunity is spending a whole lot of time in the lab not working on my language skills.
 

mrspecialist

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Trip to spain, of course. The fact that you are even thinking about going means you should!
 
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