I was interested in Physics at A-level, but had absolutely no idea what a physicist did, and had only heard of particle accelerators in science fiction. After my school visited the Diamond Light Source, and through a recommendation from a family friend, I discovered the RAL work experience scheme.
Before my placement, I was thinking about doing physics at university, but only because I wasn't sure what else to do. My placement allowed me to see the varied projects and real world applications of working in physics. Not everyone is making spaceships, but they are using physics to help researchers in other subjects from all over the world.
While I was at ISIS, I worked to develop a python script for a new experiment. Although the experiment was not up and running during my placement, I have been able to come back and visit the group this year to see it working. I wanted to come back to ISIS to, once again, be part of the great working environment and to catch up with the team.
The application process for US universities is much more detailed than in the UK, and focusses a lot on your activities outside the curriculum. Writing about my work experience at ISIS, and how it influenced my journey towards studying physics, made my applications much stronger.
I can't wait to start at the University of Chicago, and hope to play tennis for the university while I'm out there. As for beyond that – I don't believe a future in physics is ever really based in one country! The work I have seen at ISIS has shown me that physics is all about collaboration.