Columbia University Summer Programme Testimonial

15 March 2019

With support from the Santander Universities Mobility Bursary, Levinson from Mechanical Engineering joined the Columbia University Summer Programme and spent a month in NYC studying U.S. Foreign Policy and East Asian Studies.

Levinson Tan, Mechanical Engineering

Over the summer of 2018, I attended Columbia University's six week long summer program where I studied U.S. Foreign Policy and East Asian Studies. Based in New York City, this program offered me a great chance to experience what is it like to live in one of the world's most vibrant cities. 

As I am currently studying engineering in UCL, the opportunity to study subjects outside of my prescribed curriculum was an enticing one. The subjects I covered in Columbia gave me broad insight into the political culture of Eastern and Western societies and how they have manifested into the policy decisions made by world leaders. 

With economies growing increasingly interconnected, an increasing number of major engineering projects have to rely on recruiting experts of different fields from all over the world. In addition, with more of these projects crossing national boundaries (like the manufacturing and sale of goods), managers of such projects have to find ways to forge meaningful partnerships with governments, which can be difficult. While UCL has prepared me well with the technical knowledge of mechanical engineering, my time in Columbia has brought me greater appreciation of the subject of international relations. Understanding the complexity of relationships between countries can help me to understand and anticipate the considerations of political leaders, which aids in securing their consent and participation of large-scale projects. 



My personal highlight in New York was meeting new friends from all over the world, which stood as a testimony to the diversity that New York City has grown to foster. Some of the things that I've done with my new friends were: volunteering for a meals-on-wheels program, going on a guided tour in the UN, embarking on a walking tour of NYC, joining a Mormon Church's gathering and watching the Jersey Boys musical. All and all, I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with new people I've met during my time in NYC. It helps that NYC offers a great deal of places for people with different preferences; you can be sure that there's something in NYC for you. 

Fortunately, my time in NYC was relatively smooth sailing and I did not encounter any significant challenges. However, to all students considering a short term global opportunity, I strongly urge you to meet new people and explore new places as these were the highlights of my program. Regardless of what you are looking for, you should get out of your comfort zone and give yourself an opportunity to learn more about your surroundings. 

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