Conducting a research project at a university overseas is indeed a once in a lifetime experience. This is what a final year Biomedical Science student from International Medical University (IMU), Yap Yiing Jye, did. She completed her 8-week practical attachment as a visiting student at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago, Dunedin main campus in New Zealand. “I’m indeed thankful for the acceptance of my application by my on-site supervisor, Dr Heather Brooks and it is truly an honour to conduct the research project at New Zealand’s oldest and research intensive University. I was thrilled with this once in a lifetime opportunity but anxious at the same time, because this is my first time traveling to a foreign country that I’ve never been before.” While working as an intern at Department of Microbiology and Immunology, she was given the responsibility to take ownership of a research project, which is focusing on the interactions between Infloran probiotic and Enterobacteriaceae associated with neonatal necrotising enterocolitis (NEC). Moreover, she also visited a site at the Southern Community Laboratories of Dunedin public hospital. While she was there, Yiing Jye had the opportunity to work in seven departments, including microbiology, haematology, biochemistry, immunology/flow cytometry, molecular pathology, histology and New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS). Her two months of research- and diagnostic-based working experiences not only allowed her to apply her Biomedical Science’s knowledge and practical skills to an area of science that has the potential to improve the health and well-being of others, but also helps her to gain immeasurable knowledge as well as invaluable international experiences that she believes will help her succeed in future. “On top of that, there’s no words can express how grateful I am towards Dr Heather as she’s very dedicated and passionate in training me on the ways of a research scientist. From learning new diagnostic microbiology laboratory technique, designing experimental protocol from published method, multi-tasking in conducting experiments and self-directed learning until presenting the research project at weekly meetings, every single step has been a real confidence-booster to me.”
“She has been very supportive and taught me not to be afraid of trying new experiments. Upon the completion of research project, I’ve learnt that “there is every reason not to be pessimistic about our ability to treat, and more importantly to prevent any devastating disease in the future”.”
“Malaysia is a multi-racial country, but New Zealand is more of a multi-national country. There are so many people of all different backgrounds and in every conversation I have with someone, I learn something new, especially about cultures from different countries. I’m amazed with the informal atmosphere and different working environment in both research and diagnostic laboratories here. They have helped every student to fit in and have good relationships with staff. Besides that, everyone is also very well-spoken and has such passionate views with fascinating perspective about science. It is incredibly inspiring to be continually surrounded by that.” Aside from the intense research aspect, Yiing Jye enjoyed her time after work star gazing, auroras chasing and photographing the wonderful scenery that surrounds her. She also spent most of the weekends travelling around Dunedin and other parts of Southern South Island in New Zealand, which includes Queenstown, Arrowtown, Wanaka, Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo. The great natural beauty is easily accessible as are many adventurous activities such as bungy jumping, jet boating, hiking and skiing.
“Reflecting back to the internship, I certainly have no regrets for selecting this truly exceptional and wonderful learning experiences. I’m sure that after I leave, with a well-earned practical attachment experience in hand, all memories will continue to occupy a special place in my life and be cherished forever. I am sincerely thankful to IMU’s Student Mobility Programme, Dr Heather Brooks, my family and everyone who made this opportunity possible.”
“Last but not least, I would tell every junior who will be undergoing practical attachment in future to just go out and make use of all the chances you get and have fun. Starting on the path to new learning experience usually takes only one step of courage. And this first little step will go a long way, longer than you could ever imagine.”