August 9, 2019, by Lee Mei Kee

A Year Away from Home

Portland Building – the banner writes “Welcome to your Students’ Union”. It’s a place where students hang out, get coffee, drink at the bar (yes, there is a bar on campus) etc. The gloomy weather is an accurate reflection of most days in the UK.

Hi there! I am Paulina Tan, a recent UoN graduate of the Biomedical Science 2+1 transfer program. This is me sharing a little bit of what I experienced over the past year in the University of Nottingham. To be entirely honest, I had no intentions of transferring to the UK to complete my final year. My parents wanted me to, so I thought, “why not?”. Little did I know that it has been a fantastic year abroad.

First of all, I am very grateful that homesickness was not a big issue for me as I had a group of close friends that came along with me, and a new group of friends that I’ve met in the UK. Living on your own in a foreign country is definitely less scary when you’re with a bunch of people that make it feel like home.

There were so many things and experiences that I enjoyed during my year here. This includes travelling (of course!) to over 5 countries, working part time, and taking part in many activities in and outside of university. I was able to take part in the performance team for the Malaysian Festival, which is an event organized by the Nottingham Malaysian Society, to share the Malaysian culture with the locals. Another highlight was the pleasure to perform in the “Power” showcase, presented by Nottingham University Dance society. The amount of talent and effort put into the show was something that you would’ve never experienced in Malaysia. It takes a lot of communication and organization to put together an event consisting of over 100 dancers. As put by a freelance reviewer, “One of the most exciting dance shows that I have seen in a long time. Powerful and full of power, however you wish to define that word!”. This was how I channeled my final year stress into something more useful, and how I connected with other Malaysians and students from all over the UK with similar interests and passions.

Group photo with some of the dancers for MFest (Malaysian festival) 2019. Tip: never be fooled by the sun, it was still cold and windy during spring.

Honoured to work with this amazingly talented group of people at the “Power” showcase.

Not forgetting the “real” reason why I transferred to the UK – the quality of education here was beyond what I expected. You can clearly tell that the lecturers are passionate about what they teach, and they are well-informed with the most updated research in their respective fields. The laboratories are also fully equipped. There was not need to fight for equipment or space to work during my research project. My project supervisor, Dr Vince Wilson, played a huge part in my academic achievements. Under his guidance and many long hours in the lab, my research project will contribute to a paper that will soon be submitted for publication. I didn’t do exceedingly well for my examinations, but because of my dissertation, I was able to graduate with first class honours, and unexpectedly graduate as one of the school’s highest performing undergraduate students!

Faces of relief after our poster presentation of our final year project.

Proud moment with my fellow course mates from UNM! (featuring a very fake sunny background because it rained the day of our graduation)

Let’s be real. Living overseas is not always as glamorous as it sounds. I’ve had my fair share of emotional struggles throughout this year. However, besides a good group of friends, I strongly believe that a core belief system (eg. your faith), is what gets you going when times are tough. I don’t think I could have achieved so much if not for my faith.

I am writing this piece a few days before I head home, although, it may be that Malaysia could feel a little less like home now that I am accustomed to life here. Whether you decide to study abroad or not, I implore you to explore what the world has to offer, and make your university life more than a couple of years to obtain an expensive piece of paper.

Article by: Paulina Tan (BMS 2+1 transfer program graduate of 2019)

Posted in AlumniBMSUncategorized