January 15, 2024, by Lee Mei Kee
Alumni Testimonial – Chuah Khang Shin (2021)
Chuah Khang Shin graduated with BSc (Hons) Biomedical Sciences in 2021. He recently completed his Masters degree at the University of Machester and is currently job hunting.
Do you remember what it was like during the pandemic? The government announcing 4 different types of MCOs that extended every other week? Or the blurry online lessons while stuck at home, unable to live the life of a student fully? Waking up to another 20,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases today? Most memories I had of university are a blur now; all the 4 a.m. supper/breakfast at McDonald’s, random trips to Malacca, the extracurriculars I took part in, they all feel like a lifetime away.
All I remember is that weeks after I graduated, I found employment at BP Healthcare. During COVID, I processed the literal ocean of Covid samples, calmed desperate and aggressive patients demanding their results. It certainly became worse when I pioneered the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), adding the stress of travelling on top of the pandemic. The opening borders attracted Umrah pilgrims by the thousands, stretching the workload of the paper-thin frontlines further. Thankfully, with the cooperation of my hardworking and dedicated colleagues, we managed to pull through the months of hell and floods of passengers desperate for the promise of normalcy.
Morning shift sample delivery. Each tray holds 92 samples and must be processed within 24 hours.
Desperate to work towards public health initiatives, working in a wet lab wouldn’t help me towards that career. While the knowledge of laboratory techniques was certainly, the public health sector demanded more – knowledge of public health policies, a strong foundation in statistical analysis, and the ability to convey abstract concepts to the public. I therefore sought to further my studies in the UK, eventually securing a fulltime MSc position at the University of Manchester.
As one of the leading universities in research excellence, I had the opportunity to work under experts in various domains, studying the application of machine learning and data science to healthcare. Furthermore, as a country with a leading public health system, I studied the techniques set in place that maintain their high standards. From the proposal and pitching of a project, to the planning and execution of a trial, and the resulting statistical analysis and presentation, I studied under the very best Manchester had to offer, and these are individuals who have produced groundbreaking research.
It is common for international students to feel lonely when they are abroad. Away from their family and friends, isolation and insecurity are feelings that we all struggle with sometimes. Thankfully, Manchester is among the most diverse cities in the UK, and I had the opportunity to befriend not just British students, but other international students from India, China, Japan, Germany, and even with other Malaysians.
If you ever decide to study in the UK, understand that it will not be an easy transition.
- The way we learn. Whereas in Malaysia we are comfortable with a traditional way of working (rote memorization, teacher-centric learning, etc.), the UK promotes a student-centric way of learning. Simply attending the classes and following the learning objectives will never suffice; you must always take the initiative and self-study to deepen your knowledge of a certain subject.
- Extracurriculars have a massive impact. While Nottingham has diverse extracurriculars (and I have been very active), UK extracurriculars are infinitely more impactful. Imagine ten times more societies that have thrice the body of Enactus and secures bigger sponsorships than the AMAC! Imagine literally building a race car and competing in Formula Student! The only leg up we have is that our Gaming Society has our own room, and they don’t.
- Of course, as Malaysians we have incredibly high standards for food. Spoilt for choice wherever you go, it won’t be a privilege you have in the UK. Pubs and restaurants serving the same cuisines with standouts costing a pretty penny, and subpar Asian cooking dropping your jaw when Brits call it delicious. My advice? Cook, especially Asian dishes. The ingredients to cook four meals will cost you a burger and a pint at a pub alone. Sharing your cooking is also a great way to connect with people, and I have made many friends where we cook every Saturday. Never forget, we Malaysians speak through our stomachs!
After studying here, I realize we aren’t so different after all. Just as we strive to foster a Malaysian community wherever we go, so too must we appreciate theirs. Football, a nice pint, going for a hike; whatever it is, do what you love with passion, and you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by friendly people.