By Kelvin Urbina, Undergraduate student in Chemistry, Faculty of Science
This past summer, I spent four months in London, England participating in an exchange at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, the University College London School of Pharmacy. During my time abroad I conducted research to create a drug delivery system to treat bovine mastitis, aka cattle mammary gland infections, in the nano-fabrication and dosage design form laboratory.
Inspired by the Jim Carrey movie Yes Man — about a man who, quite literally, says yes to every option that is presented to him — I spent my summer in London saying yes to opportunities and this attitude brought me nothing but happiness.
My Yes Man attitude led me to insights and awareness surrounding my research. For example, techniques were being taught for the sole purpose of expanding knowledge, and now I feel confident as ever in the lab, and comfortable knowing what machine to use to solve my research puzzle.
Another example of my so called Yes Man attitude has led me across the United Kingdom. Whether it be spending a night out in London,
going on a hike with a couple of my PhD colleagues
or experiencing the roaring wind on the Isle of Wight.
My experiences came about through a suggestion by a friend, a colleague, or a stranger. And without thought, I just said yes.
The most prevalent example of my Yes Man attitude was when I met a man from New York, named Sep, who was on a Eurotrip and had a stop in London. I met him on a Tuesday, then met up with him again on Thursday and spent the next three days with him until he left the U.K. on Sunday to continue on his journey to Amsterdam. We remained in contact after the fun week we had spent together. It was nice that I felt so comfortable with someone I had known for such a short period of time. It was also a nice to have a feeling of home, hanging out with someone from North America who can naturally understand my slang and my pop culture references.
Two weeks after we met, Sep’s journey took him to Paris, France. And, two weeks after we met I traveled to meet up with Sep in Paris.
Well, why not? As crazy as it, or I, may seem, I have experienced true happiness during my summer in Europe and it is all thanks to the places I have been, the people I have met, and the knowledge I have gained. I have caught myself at times sitting in these places silently and just being present in the moment. I have felt the sun kiss my skin, listened to the snippets of foreign conversations being spoken around me, and allowed the smell of a fresh croissant to entice my taste buds. I had no worries in these moments and I felt as if time did not exist.
Knowledge, insight, a story to tell, a new friend, a lover, happiness. If I have learned anything from these past couple of weeks it is that everything and everyone adds something to your life and has something to offer. Take risks, say yes, and believe in your journey.
Yours truly, from the U.K.,