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Conducting Research Project in Turkey: Two IMU Students’ Experience

05 Mar 2015

Turkey 2 Two pharmacy students from the International Medical University (IMU), Nur Diyana binti Zazali and Nur Syazwani binti Azeran never dreamt of having the lifetime opportunity of conducting their final year research project in Hacettepe University in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. This opportunity came to them in Semester 7 of their degree studies. They fondly recall the good times in Turkey. “Throughout our journey in the IMU Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, we were always excited to learn about new pharmaceutical developments and to be able to participate in a lab-based research project abroad was unimaginably lucky. Both of us have similar research topics, related to the development of mucoadhesive antimicrobial gels for the treatment of periodontal diseases. Turkey 5Turkey 6 Two-thirds of our research was done in Turkey and we had the honour of working under the tutelage of Prof Sevda Senel who has been working in this area for some time. We were also assisted by her dedicated PhD student; Ayben Isilay Ozdogan, and lab researchers; Adem Sahin, Naile Ozturk and Selin Seda Dogan. The working atmosphere at Hacettepe University impressed us since all the researchers worked together as a team. We were also excited to be able to do research in an institution ranked as the top university for pharmaceutical technology in Ankara. During our first week, it was a struggle to adapt to the Turkish culture, due to the communication barrier that we faced. It was not easy to find someone who could understand even simple English words. When we reminisced, it was kind of hilarious at times. Nevertheless, with the help of Google Translate, our communication with the Turkish people was made easier. As time went on, we were able to pick up some of the common words used daily from our Turkish friends in the lab. In the end, both of us found that the Turkish language was actually fun to learn. We still found that most of the Turkish people we met were really friendly and helpful despite the language difficulties. Turkey 3

During our stint in Ankara, we were lucky and privileged to be given the opportunity to participate in the 17th International Pharmaceutical Technology Symposium that was organised by Hacettepe University in Antalya, Turkey. The theme of the symposium was “Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology: Innovations, Therapeutic Possibilities, Technological Challenges”, which highlighted recent research findings and innovations in pharmaceutical technology by scientists from all over the world. We gained a lot of useful, up to date, new knowledge and experience from this symposium.

Turkey 7 Initially, travelling around was not on our agenda because we did not know how long our research was going to take. Yet, it was a surprise when Prof Sevda herself encouraged us to travel around Turkey. In fact, she gave us a lot of travel guidance and tips and we managed to find our way to some of Turkey’s main attractions in Istanbul and Cappadocia on a few weekends during our stay. For us, it was a whole new experience as we travelled on our own along with the local people on their local buses and not with an organised tour. We also used our communication and organisation skills to navigate through cities. This took a lot of courage on our part but it was worth it because the friendly local Turks were always ready to help. Those short weekend trips were really fun and enjoyable getaways in between our “official” research project. Although it was only for two months, the memories, moments and experiences we gained were priceless. We will never forget the warm hospitality that we received and the splendour of our surroundings. We were grateful to have the opportunity that IMU provided to broaden our horizons as students, together with the support of family and friends. We are thankful to our supervisors, Dr Ravi Sheshala and Dr Kamal Dua who made this happen. Our learning opportunity was not only academically rewarding but also culturally fulfilling and it fostered personal growth as it was to leave our comfort zone and explore what the world has to offer.” Turkey 1Turkey 8  

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