Shelly Palmer

Shelly combines studying abroad with research

Shelly Palmer knew she wanted to study abroad since her first visit to Iowa State University.

“During my first visit to Iowa State our Cyclone Aide talked about their experience abroad,” she said. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘I’m going to do that.’ I wanted to learn about a new culture and see how their nutrition differed from the United States.”

Her junior year, Shelly made this goal a reality. She knew her class load wouldn’t allow her to take an entire semester abroad, so she looked at summer programs that aligned with her interest in nutrition. She found a month-long program at the Institute of Nutrition in Lima, Peru.

In the summer of 2015, she hopped on the flight and traveled the 3,880 miles Peru. At first she was all alone in the new country, but she quickly made friends with the other students in her program, especially her roommates.

“I didn’t know anyone at first,” she said. “I met fourteen new people and became really close with my roomies, because that’s what happens when you’re in a new country—you become close.”

Every weekday she and her roommates would leave their hotel and head to the institute for a day of classes and presentations. The students were assigned a research project which centered on providing better nutrition to children through educating the mothers.

The first two weeks of the program students observed children’s lunch boxes at different schools. After observing, they developed a nutrition plan and talked with each child’s mother to try and offer healthier, more nutritious options for the kids.

One of Shelly’s most memorable experiences from the program was traveling through the mountains to stay with a family in northern Peru. She learned about the different culture, customs, and eating habits of the people and even learned to cook a traditional Peruvian meal.

Shelly learned a great deal about research, but also about the differences between American and Peruvian nutrition. She enjoyed both aspects of the program a lot, and returned home with a new-found appreciation.

“I find it relevant to what we study—gathering data and research,” she said. “It’s great to learn about, but this trip also helped me appreciate everything we have here like clean water and enough food.”