Sara L.
Junior, BS in Biology/Biotechnology; Minor in Biochemistry

Sara and her team were faced with communication challenges between themselves and the natives throughout the IQP experience. Her inability to communicate effectively pushed her to study the language and work hard to connect with the locals, both verbally and through body language. Her team was ultimately able to complete a field study in southern Albania where many of the people spoke little or no English.

Overall, Sara gained a greater sense of independence from her time in Albania, and is no longer afraid to try things on her own. She learned a great deal about traveling safely and became more comfortable with the idea of being alone and still thriving in a new, unfamiliar environment.

Hometown
Bedford, NH
Achievements
  • Working alongside a biotechnology professor in a laboratory her freshman year and completing a summer undergraduate research fellowship, contributing data to a pending multi-department publication.
  • Appointment as Director of Parent and Alumnae Relationships in her sorority chapter and new connections she formed.
Hometown
Bedford, NH
Achievements
  • Working alongside a biotechnology professor in a laboratory her freshman year and completing a summer undergraduate research fellowship, contributing data to a pending multi-department publication.
  • Appointment as Director of Parent and Alumnae Relationships in her sorority chapter and new connections she formed.

Typical Work Week Schedule

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8:30 AM
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Meet team members at Mon Cheri, a coffee shop down the street from our apartment. 

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10:00 AM

We consult with him on the checklist of medicinal and aromatic plants we are creating.

Meet with a professor at the University of Tirana to discuss logistics for a field study we are planning for our project in the Vjosa Valley.

11:00 AM

Went to a cafe for some çaj mali (mountain tea) and to discuss our plans for our field study as a team.

11:30 AM

Conducted a quick meeting with our faculty advisors to confirm our goals for the project and the field study.

12:30 PM

His brother lives and works in Worcester! He teaches us some Albanian.

Stopped for lunch at a restaurant near our apartment for some traditional Albanian food with our favorite waiter. 

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1:30 PM
Body

Meet up with our sponsors at a cafe down the street to discuss our trip to Vjosa Valley. Our sponsors give us contacts to assist with the planning of the trip while we sip on some tea.

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3:00 PM

Walked to the EcoAlbania office to continue working on questions for the interviews we have planned with a medicinal plant collector in Berat this weekend.

5:00 PM

Visit the Spar (supermarket) on the way home from the sponsor’s office to pick up some snacks for the week.

6:00 PM

Meet up with a few other WPI students in our group for dinner at Petro’s, where we get platters of seasoned pork to share.

8:30 PM

Head home to go to bed.

Typical Weekend Schedule

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8:00 AM
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After traveling by bus from Tirana to Berat on Friday evening with the entire WPI team, we wake up and meet at the hotel restaurant for a traditional Albanian breakfast with coffee, breads, jams, and vegetables.

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9:00 AM

Embark on a three-and-a-half-hour bus ride through the mountains and villages to the Osumi Canyon.

12:30 PM

Arrive at the canyon and hike down about 45 minutes to the water’s edge. The canyon is beautiful and is nothing like I have ever experienced before.

3:00 PM

Enjoy a quick lunch of sandwiches at the base of the canyon and spent time taking photos.

5:00 PM

Hike back up the canyon and spend some time exploring the site of the Albanian Rafting Group’s future eco-adventure park (another WPI team project).

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7:00 PM
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Arrive back to the hotel and spend time in downtown Berat for dinner. We have the opportunity to meet some local students here—their English teacher was a Peace Corps volunteer from Connecticut!

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A visit to the Berat Castle, a fortress overlooking the town of Berat, situated above the Osumi river in south-central Albania

Greeting an employee of Gjedra, a medicinal and aromatic plant collector in the Berat region, while visiting for a plant tour

Taking a tour at a medicinal and aromatic plant collector facility in the Berat region

Team meeting with project sponsor, EcoAlbania, at the sponsor’s office

Interviewing an employee from a medicinal and aromatic plant collector facility in the Berat region

Greeting the tour guide at a medicinal and aromatic plant collector facility in the Berat region

Touring the Berat Castle, a medieval fortress built in the 13th and 14th century, situated above the Osumi river in Berat

Outside Gjedra facility, a medicinal and aromatic plant collector in the Berat region

Preparing to conduct interviews and gather materials from the medicinal and aromatic plant collector in the Berat region

Hiking excursion to the Valbona region in northern Albania

Team photo with members of Gjedra, a medicinal and aromatic plant collector in the Berat region

I learned how to work efficiently in a team of vastly different personalities and to manage my time to stay on task, produce high-quality work, and meet critical deadlines.