This year, the GoAbroad fund enabled me to take my studies across the Atlantic and gain work experience on America’s sunny West Coast. Where better to head than California? The State is renowned for its innovative approaches and cutting-edge research, and San Francisco is no exception. With a wealth of excellent institutes, the city is an epicentre of world-leading biomedical research. The opportunity arose to join a group at The University of California San Francisco, spend time in their institute, gain experience outside of my own lab and discuss life in Edinburgh.
Before I left, I was incredibly nervous about entering a new research group, a new university, and a new city. I have little professional experience outside of Edinburgh, so this was far from my comfort zone. As I arrived and encountered the wonderful city, my nervousness turned to excitement and I looked forward to what the experience had to offer. The university, like Edinburgh, is spread across the whole city. Situated in the iconic “Bay-Area” of San Francisco, so making my way to the institute was exciting. As I arrived for my first day, I was shown around the research labs and started to settle and feel comfortable. It’s incredible how similar the inside of a lab can be, this made me relax and focus more on interacting with staff and enjoying my time here.
What truly amazed me – and made the experience so enjoyable – was that Edinburgh needed no introduction. Over the week I spoke to many staff who were familiar with The University of Edinburgh and the work coming out of our city. Lots of whom already knew lecturers and tutors of mine back in Edinburgh. This common ground allowed relationships to flourish and enabled interesting conversations with so many unique individuals. My placement passed in a flash and saying goodbye to these new friends was perhaps the worst part of the experience.
My time abroad was an incredible learning experience and filled me with confidence about the future. The most valuable lessons were taken from the conversations had amongst researchers with years of experience, sharing their wisdom and knowledge of the field. I had the opportunity to discuss everything from PhD tips to working visas in America.
Moving towards graduation and thinking about my next steps, this really opened my eyes to what the field has to offer. I learned how valuable my degree is and how transferable my skills are. Graduating from Edinburgh brings with it an outstanding reputation and can help make contacts around the world. I learned to be confident around fellow researchers, that these people were no longer my tutors but also my peers, my colleagues and my friends.
For years, I have read papers published in iconic cities such as San Francisco and dreamt about working there but never thought it possible. This experience taught me that, with my degree, this is a realistic option and that I can work towards achieving the career I dream of having.
Iconic San Francisco Bay Area from Lombard Street