Hello from the cornfields of central Illinois! Champaign-Urbana, Illinois is a paradoxical microcosm that blends a hi-tech and exceedingly international micro-urban area with the farmland and football-loving Midwest.  The University of Illinois graduate science and engineering programs, among a few other programs, enroll the most international students and the sense of cultural diversity is ubiquitous across our campus. More specifically, in the chemistry department, there is roughly a fifty-fifty split between international and domestic students making cross-cultural interaction a necessity for international and domestic students alike.

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Since joining the same group last fall, we have collaborated on several projects, with Sarah focusing on synthesis and ensemble measurements of semiconductor and oxide nanocrystals and Mayank specializing in single particle imaging measurements. Outside of chemistry, we share similar core beliefs: the idea that coffee is the elixir of life and that Bill Maher is annoying.  We also competed on an almost-champion volleyball team together. (We lost in the final round to a group of burly-looking mechanical engineers.) Of course we disagree about many things as well. (Mayank thinks he’s a good driver. Sarah doesn't.)

We are very excited to participate in the International-Domestic Student Summit.  We hope to better our understanding of the presence of international students on other campuses throughout the country and share our strong opinions on the matter.  Since coming to UIUC, we’ve experienced, first-hand, the importance of an academic talent pool that extends beyond the borders of the U.S.  More importantly, we feel that an environment like UIUC teaches us how to behave in an international setting, which will undoubtedly be necessary when we graduate and pursue careers in a field that places increasing weight on global collaboration and interconnectedness.