Emma Fraser

Emma Fraser

I was incredibly lucky with the timing of my exchange and ended up arriving in the US on August 20th, 2017 and therefore got to experience the coolest thing I have ever seen- the total solar eclipse that occurred on Aug 21st, 2017! To say my time in America kicked off with a bang would be an understatement.
I spent the next three weeks getting as much travelling in western USA done as I could. I spent a few days in Seattle, Washington staying with my friend and visited Snoqualmie Falls, Pike Place market, the Space needle, the famous Seattle gum wall, a couple of museums etc. My time in Seattle was short but I really enjoyed it and it’s a really cool city! I then went on a 3-day tour to Yosemite Valley and a 9-day tour called ‘Canyons of the West’ both through a company called Green Tortoise Adventure Travel which I cannot recommend highly enough! Before my Yosemite trip I spent a few days exploring the city of San Fran which was really cool. I really enjoyed the California Academy of Science and the de Young Art Museum in Golden Gate Park.

I also tried to travel on weekends around Oregon and would definitely recommend checking out Crater Lake, Salt Creek Waterfall, McCredie Hot Springs, Abiqua Falls, Silver Falls, Umpqua Hot Springs, Blue Pool, Wolf Rock, Terwilliger (a.k.a cougar) Hot Springs, the Oregon Coast (sea lion cave, Herceta head lighthouse, Florence, sand dunes etc.), Portland, Bend and Mt Hood.
My two genetics papers at U of O were Bi425- Advanced Molecular Biology Research Laboratory and Bi427- Molecular genetics of human disease. These were worth 5 and 4 U of O credits respectively and I had to take a minimum of 12 credits to be enrolled as a full-time student so I also took Rock climbing, Hatha Yoga and Tai Chi which were worth one credit each. The class sizes for my genetics papers were very small (7 people in my lab-based class and around 20 people in my lecture-based class) which is typical at U of O for high-level classes and was an aspect I really enjoyed as it meant that class participation (which is compulsory and graded) was less awkward than at Otago. It also meant that paying attention in class was a lot easier as you were often interacting with the professor/other students. In terms of difficulty, I was pleasantly surprised that I had a really good base of understanding for my genetics classes and I was among the most knowledgeable. My 1 credit PE classes were all really fun and easy to pass as long as you show up and put a decent amount of effort in.
Bi427 was very literature based and I really enjoyed learning how scientists discover the genetic cause of human diseases and develop treatments. I also enjoyed learning to dissect and understand scientific papers. It was pretty easy to do well in this class because homework questions and class participation made up a considerable chunk of the grading. Bi425 was all lab-based and I found it to be slower paced and more organised than Otago lab classes. Otago had prepared me well for this class as I found I generally had more lab knowledge, skills and experience than my peers. This class was time-consuming as you have to spend at least 12 hours in the lab a week but not too difficult because some of the grade is participation, lab notebook checks and quizzes about the work so as long as you stay on top of what you are doing it is easy to do well.
My time abroad was all thanks to the financial support from AUOA. Please accept my deepest gratitude for enabling me to learn and experience so much in the time I was away.