Research.. While Abroad?!

Research. The never ending quest to discover the unknown, that all to often leads you to more questions than answers. If you’re a pre-med student like me, or if you plan on going into any form of post-graduate education you know how important research is. If you’re unsure about your plans after college, I’ll let you in on a little secret– research will help you gain more professional connections, enhance your chances at landing a dream job, and just give you more experience in something that you’re passionate about.

There is research everywhere, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a psychology, chemistry, finance, or forestry major; I guarantee you there is research being done in your field. Humans are greedy, we want the best of everything and in order find the best you have to explore a little.

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I currently have a research position at The University of Western Australia, partnered with Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and Cancer Western Australia, looking at hormonal effects of/on breast cancer. However, a new study looking at Indigenous populations is in the works, and I’ve been training with DNA research of head and neck cancer as well. You may wonder how this is possible for someone under the age of 20, but I promise it’s easier than you think.

Where to even begin?

Whether you’re a Uni student or not, the place that you’re most likely to find entry level research opportunities is at a University near you. If you’ve had some research experience and are looking for a step up, I would suggest looking at a professional medical or business center.

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Most University’s have a tab on their home page dedicated to ongoing research and its conductors– let’s face it, as humans we love to brag. I would suggest creating a spreadsheet of all of the research going on in your field that interests you with the name and contact information of the person who is conducting it. Rejection is imminent so a list of 7-12 is a good start in my opinion. However, do NOT be snobby when trying to find research. Anything that sounds remotely interesting should go on your list because you never know what you’ll end up enjoying. 

So I have a list.. Now what?

Here’s a tip that will set you apart from everyone else applying for research opportunities, and it’s so simple many people over look it. Do research on the researcher. Familiarize yourself with their past publications, read and summarize their articles so you’ll have talking points. On top of that, their previous research will be a big indication as to whether or not you’ll actually enjoy/want to work for them.  

Sophisticated Spam

Now that you’ve compiled everything, you’re ready to send emails. I personally have a generic email template and swap out the researcher’s name and details in order to save time and effort. I usually try to make the subject something more than just, “Undergrad research opportunity.” First impressions are everything, and they may not open your email if they’re swamped with hundreds of others. Make your subject catchy, yet professional like, “Undergrad interested in your FSH work.” Click on the document below to see one of the many research emails I’ve sent! 

Research Email Example

Remember the more emails you send, the more likely you are to get a response. In addition, if the researcher wants to meet you should never say no. Researchers talk, so even if they may not have a space in their lab, they may know someone who does. At the end of the day connections are everything. 

Going above and beyond

Many people ask me how I got a research position while abroad because the requirements and lab standards can vary between countries. When applying for a job, you hand out a resume, so I decided to make a research resume with all of my previous experience divided into subject matter. This made things a lot easier because at the end of the email, it was just a file attachment and a, “P.S. If you’re interested in seeing what experience I have, it’s in the attached file.” Most people are extremely impressed by those who a. took the time to look at their work, and b. made a resume of everything they’ve ever done in a lab. It shows dedication and passion, which is exactly what researchers want in their labs. Click on the document below to see my research resume. 

Research Amanda

To sum it up.. 

People are going to tell you no, but when one door closes the back door or window opens. Life is too short to accept no for an answer and if you’re truly passionate, you will always find something else. John Lennon once said, “life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” Everything happens for a reason, and life tends to work itself out as long as you have patience and vision. Best of luck finding research and I hope you all discover something life altering in your practice! 

I believe in you! 

re

-XO

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12,464 Miles with Emirates

12,464 miles and 36 hours later this little girl from Vermont (the tiny state near Canada) has found herself in Perth. For the next four months, I’ll embark on one of the most soul-searching journeys there is- studying abroad.

A lot of you may not know me or what I do, so here is a little inside scoop. I’m a biochemistry major, pharmacology and nutritional food science minor, studying at The University of Vermont (UVM). UVM is a rowdy University nestled in the quaint city of Burlington, Vermont. Burly is absolutely breathtaking and full of genuine, down-to-earth, kind souls. It’s hard to get bored here, there is always something to tie dye, a new vegan recipe to try, a rally of sorts, or just a creeemee (fattier soft serve) to accompany you at sunset on Lake Champlain. However, being the sixth generation to grow up in the same town, I figure it was time to get away, about as far away as possible.

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Picking My Flight

I began searching for my flight four or five months before my departure, and although I wanted to get one of the cheapest flights possible, I also wanted to ensure that I had a smooth and safe trip as well.

Residing in Vermont blesses you with one of the most expensive international airports in the U.S.– BTV. Therefore, by simply getting your friends, family, or Megabus driver to take you a state or two away you can save hundreds of dollars. The cheapest airport I found to fly out of (round trip) the East Coast to Perth, Western Australia was Boston at $1200.  REMEMBER the cheapest is not always the best, it had a 17 hour layover in Qatar. A few hours later and I settled on Emirates with a seven hour layover in Dubai on the way there and a three hour layover on the way home for a whopping $1350– before traveler’s insurance.

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The Departure- Flight One

A six hour car rider later and I was in Boston to have one last dinner with my family until Christmas. Navigating the airport wasn’t hard, everyone was helpful enough and the halls were labeled. Security took about an hour to get through and the barista at Starbucks made a mean green tea frap in record time. However, all good things must come to an end. There was a problem with overbooking certain premium economy/ economy seats so not everyone got the seat they had originally paid for. Luckily, Emirates being the kind, sensible airline that they are upgraded all of those who had paid for premium economy (and lost their seat) to business and first class. YES, I got upgraded to FIRST CLASS for free, talk about the biggest blessing for a 13.5 hour flight. 

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In Cabin Experience- Flight One

Hot towels. Scented hot towels. Then, a kit with a luxury sleeping mask, Bvlgari perfume, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, and other toiletries was passed my way. On top of that, a menu where I got to write what I wanted from my own personal chef WITH the option to request times to be woken up if I’m asleep, came through. Oh, and did I forget to mention that I had my own cubicle with a desk, lamp, TV, and bed? 

I wasn’t feeling too hot– I get really bad jet bloat– so, I decided to sleep for most of the flight and requested to be woken up for a scrumptious French Toast breakfast an hour before arrival. 

The French Toast was delicious, way better than I anything I was expecting to come from an airplane. The hostess was absolutely marvelous, always checking in on me asking if I needed anything, offering mimosas and more hot, scented towels. Unfortunately, whatever goes up, must come down and we began our descent. Bellies full and hands sanitized. 

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The Layover

Seven hours is just too long for a layover. In my opinion, the perfect layover is 3-5 hours max. I arrived in Dubai at 19:00 and wasn’t scheduled to depart again until 02:00– what is there to do? I explored, walked around, ate an overpriced, subpar muffin, and tried to rest while clutching my personal belongings. Time crawled. 

The Departure- Flight Two

I’m sure your wondering if I’m the luckiest person alive, but sorry to burst your bubble. I’m not.  It was back to the peasant life of economy for me. One hot towel rather than endless, a mere toothbrush, prescribed meals, and bare minimum leg room was what I had to look forward to for the next 12 hours. That being said, I can’t complain about Emirates, the second flight was good for what I paid and I’m sure there are much worse stories about flying around the world. 

The Arrival

Legs wobbly, and not a single familiar face in sight, I touched down on the place I’ll call home for the next four months. Emirates was very quick with baggage retrieval; they managed to keep all of my things together and in one piece! 

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The Verdict

All in all I would give Emirates an 8.3/10 for my experience. Their customer service was impeccable, but I got to see how both sides live on an airplane and let me tell you money certainly talks. However, I would recommend Emirates to anyone who is looking to travel long distances and who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky like I did! 

Stay tuned for many more adventures in Perth! 

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-XO