I’ve always been a traveler and explorer at heart: my grandmother was born in Greece and moved to Indiana when she was only 16. My parents took three months off work to drive around Europe in a VW van. My aunt was a flight attendant who brought back stories of people from all over the world.
However, I didn’t grow up traveling to exotic places. I grew up in a small town near San Francisco, California called Woodside. It is the type of town where you sometimes share the road with a horse and buggy and where everyone knows each other.
At the beginning of each new school year, my wealthier friends talked about their adventures in Africa, or vacation in the Caribbean. My travels consisted of visiting my grandmother in Indiana, or going to Disneyland. I satisfied my need for travel and adventure in a different way: science.
I fell in love with the solar system and space in third grade, when I wrote a research report on the planet Uranus. From that moment on, I researched as much as I could about astronomy. I explored the universe with my imagination and the help of science textbooks and articles.
At the same time, I was interested in magic and design. I loved trying to figure out how rides in Disneyland worked.
How did they make the Haunted Mansion crystal ball float in the air? My curiosity for how things work led me to discover Imagineering. Imagineers are the Disney engineers who dream up and design the theme parks and rides. That can mean anything from creating the “Do Not Enter” signs to building a roller coaster track.
I explored the universe and magic with astronomy and Disney engineering. I am a scientific traveler.
However, I still got a taste for traveling during high school and college. In tenth grade I had the opportunity to travel to Greece for a month at the end of my school year, where I studied Ancient Greek Archeology and visited many historical sites, like the Parthenon and the palace of Knossos on the largest island, Crete.
That was the first time I experienced culture shock. My mother and I were walking through Athens trying to get a taxi to take us to the hotel, and I became overwhelmed. I wanted to curl up in a corner, close my eyes, and be back in my familiar bedroom. I became more comfortable in Greece as the weeks continued, but that helped me see how much there is to learn about other countries and cultures.
Also, in my second year of college I got to take a two-week trip to England, where my class gave book presentations and toured famous sights. That’s when I fell in love with London. My passion for science and engineering also helped drive me to choose to study abroad at Queen Mary University of London. Yes, I wanted to travel and explore new cultures, but I also want to learn what engineering and design means all over the world.
People approach problems differently in different countries.
I need to study and explore the brains and imaginations of people all over the world to improve my ability to solve problems.
So I am not the typical traveler. I do love exploring new cities and will travel around Europe while I am abroad, but I’m also interested in learning engineering from a different country’s perspective. I’m a scientific traveler, and am excited to share my physical and academic journey with you as I study Design Engineering at Queen Mary University of London in England!