Ritika Saxena grew up in Lucknow, Northern India. People around the world and different cultures intrigue her. She says, "After high school, I moved to Australia on a scholarship to study Bachelor of Biological Science." As a part of her degree, she decided to go on exchange at UAF over Spring 2016.
What motivated you to study abroad and choose UAF?
After spending over 4 months in the US, she says she still couldn't wrap her head around gallons and pounds!
She had never seen snow before she arrived in Alaska and the mere thought of it excited her. "I had only seen in movies how people thrived in such harsh climatic conditions. I looked forward for a frigid cold experience for myself!"
How was your experience traveling in Alaska and the lower 48?
She visited Chena Hot Springs, saw the amazing sculptures at the Ice Park and went to the Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race start.
She had planned a trip to New York and Los Angeles at the end of the semester.
Ritika (L) in North Pole, Alaska
(L to R) Ritika at the Ice Park, Yukon Quest Race Start in Fairbanks and at the Statue of Liberty in New York
"I went to bonfires at the Smith lake on campus in pitch black darkness and went snowshoeing up Pedro Dome!"
How was your Alaskan winter experience?
"I did not see fresh snow for the first six weeks and when I did see the snow fall, holy moly! it was beautiful and enchanting and all the good things you can think of!"
The cold was harsh but she says the campus has great facilities that keep businesses go on as usual. "Coming back from the lab at 9pm in pitch dark, the campus shuttle was an extremely useful resource".
She says “To cope up with the cold, I wore so many clothes during the winter that at any given point, I was wearing half my wardrobe! . But, I made it through the winter safe and sound!
She loved capturing snowflakes and taking pictures in the snow
What do you miss about Alaska now that you are on your way back to your home university?
"I will miss a lot of things about Alaska. I made a lot of memories having conversations over dinner with friends over the past semester. I will miss looking out the window and seeing the world just covered in a blanket of white. I will miss going out in the middle of those winter nights to gaze at the northern lights and take pictures . I will miss the excitement when Spring fest came around. I will miss seeing the huskies!"
(L) Ritika with the Northern Lights. The campus has some great spots to view the Northern Lights
Would you recommend students to study abroad?
Ritika believes that studying abroad gives you a chance to explore yourself. She says "Even simple things like your favorite cuisine changes once you live in a new place and experience new things. The best part about studying abroad is that you get to travel without taking a break from your studies! It shows your potential employers that you are easily adaptable and enjoy a diverse working atmosphere. More than anything, it helps you grow personally."
What are you plans for the future?
Ritika is trying to get a position in a placement program in China later this year. She says "After I (hopefully) graduate next year, I may work for a couple of years. I eventually hope to get a PhD in Genetics, Epigenetics and Stem Cells and teach at a university. One of my dreams is to study and live in Germany"
Describe UAF in one word
Ritika blogs about her experiences at https://riteekuh.wordpress.com