Recently, posters like the one above have been cropping up around campus. What exactly is Global Urban Lab, you might ask? It certainly is not the type of lab that comes to mind when one mentions ‘chem lab,’ but is instead one of the many study abroad opportunities available to students here at Rice. Rather than fusing chemicals, Global Urban Lab (GUL) seeks to ‘fuse’ major cities across the world in order to shed light on and to address the challenges facing them today. GUL participants do so by performing investigative research in their city of choice (London, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, or Shanghai) on their theme of choice (healthcare, sports, transportation, immigration, or development). Research aside, the programs also include internships and transferable social science credit.
I remember hearing of this my freshman year, and had eagerly attended the information session. However, given that I was, and still am, a pre-med engineer, I did not have the flexibility in my schedule to devote a whole semester to GUL. But wait! There may be hope for me yet—GUL offers a week long study abroad program in Istanbul. Like the semester-long programs, this one also gives participants the chance to do independent research in the form of a comparative study between Houston and Istanbul on a topic of their choice. Given that my research background has always been in a biological context, I am hoping to gain research exposure in the social sciences setting. GUL Istanbul will offer me the opportunity to do so, not to mention the chance to study abroad; fingers crossed as I wrap up my application!