Research Abroad in New Zealand

Research Abroad

[Photo Caption: Me in a clean room wear outfit in a dedicated photo lithography wear]

This summer I was able to do research in New Zealand. I reached out to a New Zealand university research laboratory that I was interested in (and was also a very good reason to travel) and the PI warmly invited me to spend the summer in her laboratory. I was placed under the graduate student who was excited to have me join his project.

As this was not a formal research program with no planned poster or paper due at the end, I had to monitor myself and my own achievements and goals. The goals I worked for were; getting a degree of responsibility and freedom in the project, and learning the various theories encompassed in the project. As my hand skills increased, I was given more and more responsibility with the project as I was trusted to be able to go through the steps alone- allowing the graduate student to work on other steps. Learning the theories of direct writing and polymer properties were difficult, but learned mostly as I worked with it. Learning that different temperatures and humidity affected the water evaporation rate which affected the success of the direct writing was learned through reading but seen in the practice writing.

I wasn’t just confined to the laboratory during my time in New Zealand. My graduate student encouraged and let me take time off to visit incredible parts of the country. In my first time traveling abroad, I was so excited to see so much and learn about this place on the other side of the world. The other people in the laboratory were not only able to give me advice on a research career and research topics and trouble shooting, but as well as direct me to different sites to see.

Traveling abroad isn’t delegated to those who are able to spend a couple months traveling without any responsibilities. You can pick up experience- tailored to your interests and not just within a program’s confines as UTD works with you to help you get there.

-Amanda Bacon, Independent Study in New Zealand, Summer 2018

As I Travel

Adiva Sahar - Ornamental Traditions   In the summer of 2018, I traveled to Islamabad, Pakistan in order to intern at the emergency room of the Shifa International Hospital. In hindsight, summer was not the best time to travel to a country with a continental climate, for the blistering heat and suffocating humidity made it difficult to fully enjoy the experience. However, the enriching hospital environment and the country’s rich culture made the experience worthwhile.

Interning in the emergency room was a unique experience. The socioeconomic gap in Pakistan is very large, and a major part of the population consists of the lower class, who usually do not have access to education. This became very apparent to me in the hospital setting. Because Shifa is a private hospital, the patients admitted were mainly of the upper class. The few members of the lower class that unknowingly found themselves at Shifa would end up having to refuse treatment because of the high costs. Often, it would be difficult for doctors to communicate the importance of their advice to the uneducated.

Besides my newfound cultural awareness, I also deepened my understanding of international hospital systems. The hospital followed the British system in much of their hospital organization, including the triage system. It was interesting to observe the differences between the American healthcare system and the one Pakistan has adopted.

Outside of the hospital, the streets were rich of Pakistani culture. Islamabad’s street food is delicious, and surprisingly very cheap. I often found myself on the side of the roads snacking on samosas, chaat, and meat rolls. Along with the numerous food stalls, the streets are lined with bazaars. People can be seen bargaining over a variety of items; from shoes to common household items, from jewelry to personal care products. For international tourists, everything already seems pretty cheap, or we don’t know about the culture of bargaining, so we tend to not bother with it. However, it makes you stand out amongst the common crowd if you don’t argue for a cheaper price.

Throughout my stay, I did a lot of shopping. I especially bought cultural items and enjoyed dressing up in traditional clothing. I visited places with historical and cultural significance and beautiful architecture, including the city of Lahore, Pakistan. And I ate a lot of food that I probably shouldn’t have.

By the end of my stay, I realized why study abroad is so important – you completely immerse yourself in a different culture, one that you are not at all accustomed to, and return with a newfound awareness and perspective of the world around you. I know I did.

–  Adiva Sahar, Internship in Pakistan, Summer 2018