With the help of the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund I was very lucky to be able to attend the 9th European Zebrafish Meeting and to present a poster of my PhD topic “Genes involved in motor neuron development and axonal differentiation”, in Oslo, Norway from June 28 to July 2, 2015.
This was my first time going to an international science conference, and it has been a special rewarding experience both personally and professionally, full of excitement and joy. I would very much like to share some of those moments with you and hope it will be helpful for either your decision to apply for the “Principal’s Go Abroad Fund”, or for your journey abroad in general.
Like many international students, the first and most important thing for me is to apply a visa to go to Norway. Visa application can be worrying and uneasy. To ensure a successful application I prepared and positively contacted with the conference organizer for supporting documents. I submitted my application well in advance to make sure enough time is given for the process. As I was travelling alone, I did a thorough research of where to stay, how to get there and how much money I need for a week stay. I avoided arriving at late night and had a copy of the information of my pre-booked hostel with me. All of these made sure that I arrived Oslo and the hostel very easily. Joining the Facebook group of the Go Abroad Fund would also be very useful to get some good travelling tips.
The conference began with an intensive one-day workshop that is tightly related with my project. I gained a great deal from the guidance of the experts and had lots of hands-on experiences. The meeting attracted top scientists and expertise from across the world within the field, I was very lucky to be able to present my poster and had the opportunity to tell them about my work. Presentation has always been nerve-wracking experience for me but I tried hard not to be shy. As a result, I received many valuable feedback and insightful suggestions which will help to bring my research to the next level. I was inspired by listening to the the current cutting edge studies of other researchers. It was also such a great chance to meet people with shared interest in the same field and all I had to do was to come out of my comfort zone, take initiative, and to socialise! Scientific conferences are invaluable places to build international networks and to establish connections with world-renowned scientists for future collaborations and for potential job opportunities.
After 5 days of intensive conference I continued my journey to explore the wonderful nature of Norway – Hiking to Trolltunga, a cliff jutting out of a mountain of about 900 meters ascent. The hike took 10.5 hours for 22km return, I went through the waterfalls, the Fjord and stumbled in heavy snow covered mountains, and came across with some of the most spectacular views.
I am very grateful for such a fantastic scheme in supporting us for educational experience and culture exploration, and the encouragement to go abroad to widen our mind. It not only is a chance for building self-confidence and interpersonal skills but also an academic experience that will benefit me as a student and in my future academic life.