Summer Spotlight: Marina Latif ‘19
Welcome to Summer Spotlight, the HPA feature where we highlight interesting summer experiences of pre-health students at Princeton University. Today we are exploring Marina Latif’s (‘19) Global Seminar experience in Greece.
Marina is a New Jersey native. She is concentrating in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) and is also working on a certificate in Global Health and Health Policy (GHP). Before Marina was accepted to Princeton, she knew she wanted to be premed and pursue a career in medicine, but she was still debating "how" to be premed while she was here. She knew she wanted to take full advantage of the educational opportunities at Princeton and even considered concentrating in Classics. Gaining a solid foundation in biology and global health, combined with taking advantage of the Global Seminar course, allowed her to gain the well-rounded educational experience she was hoping for.
Marina’s Global Seminar was titled “Culture and Counterculture in Ancient Athens.” She was based in Athens, Greece, and the course centered around ideas of culture and counterculture throughout the history of Athens. The Global Seminar also included a significant amount of travel to various cities and locations throughout Greece.
The course combined in-class lecture and discussion with hands-on exploration at historical sites in Greece. She spent her weekdays on nightly assigned readings and a reflection due in class, combined with a three-to-four hour lecture and discussion each day during the week. Weekends were typically reserved for course organized trips, but there were also various activities and shorter day trips during the week. In total, Marina tells us that the seminar included more than ten different trips over the six-week seminar. Marina’s most memorable trip was to Delphi, Greece. In Delphi, she and her classmates retraced the steps of the Oracle of Delphi. In ancient Greece, Delphi was considered the center of the known world. It is also home to some of Greece's most cherished archaeological sites.
Overall, Marina described the Global Seminar as an “amazing experience,” especially in terms of "the opportunity to experience a different culture." She went on to discuss some of the differences in culture and the cultural norms compared to the US, noting that people in Greece were direct in how they spoke to one another and that staring at other people was a common cultural practice. Marina also loved the contrast between modern Greek culture and the ancient history that surrounded it. Asked about drawbacks of the Global Seminar, Marina said the adjustment from traveling, such as jet lag and the time difference, all while attending classes, was difficult in the first couple of weeks.
I asked Marina if she had any advice for first- and second-years exploring opportunities. She said, "before I applied to this Global Seminar, I applied to PICS and IIP first. Do not be discouraged if you don't get any of those opportunities or you aren't finding something: everyone can find something that works for them. If you're not doing something traditionally related to science or research, if you're not doing something conventional [for premeds], that's okay too. It might just give you a better experience of the world."