For many of Drexel’s industrious engineering students, studying abroad is an idea entertained only during physics-class daydreams and never truly considered due to a full schedule of fast-paced classes and demanding homework.
This is not the case for civil-engineering student Michelle Martucci, who made her dreams come true last year and proved balancing both calculus homework and life in a new place is possible when she ventured to the United Kingdom. Martucci studied engineering at the University of Leeds in England during the fall term of her junior year. In her time abroad, she met people from all over the world, explored several European countries and gained a new outlook on the world and herself.
“This was by far the greatest four months of my life, and the most rewarding experience I’ve had at Drexel thus far,” Martucci said.
Taking engineering classes in a different country was a bit of a culture shock for Martucci at first, she said, as the classes were structured very differently from Drexel’s. For instance, there was less influence from professors, which forced her to stay on top of her schoolwork. Also, fewer assignments were due during the term and a larger portion of the grade depended on final exams, making it challenging at first for her to manage both studying and traveling.
Despite studying in this new, challenging way, Martucci learned to stay focused on her schoolwork during the week, so she could travel on the weekends. With this strategy, she was able to explore cities such as Florence, Madrid, Amsterdam, Prague and Copenhagen, to name a few. The best part of her experience was meeting and bonding with people from different countries, she said.
“One of the most significant lessons I learned from studying abroad was learning to accept and understand people from other cultures. Meeting people from different parts of the world exposed me to different cultures, languages and ways of life,” she said.
Martucci said she would like to pursue a career in geotechnical engineering, which is what she practices for her third co-op at The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Her first two co-ops were in project management with AMEC Earth & Environmental, and construction management with The City of Philadelphia. In addition to pursuing a career in geotechnical engineering, she also wants to travel the world.
Ultimately, Martucci hopes to someday be able to travel to developing countries where she can use her civil engineering skills to improve the quality of life and help people meet their needs.
“I would love to have the opportunity to help other people, as well as see different parts of the globe, and explore different cultures,” she said.
Martucci is already initiating these efforts through her participation in Drexel’s Engineers Without Borders, an organization that supports and encourages community-driven development programs worldwide to design and implement sustainable engineering projects.
“I have learned to view each day as an opportunity for new adventures and new lessons. I have learned to accept and appreciate each and every person that comes into my life, and most of all, I have learned to be happy with myself and the person I have become,” Martucci said.