In June and July of this summer, I attended the University of Angers’ ‘Medical Research’ Summer School. I applied to the summer school to find out whether medical research was the right route for me, and to gain insight into the different fields of medical science. I also wanted to study in a new country, and explore France outside of holiday destinations.
The two-week course was aimed at undergraduate students of medicine, biology and related subjects. The course was taught in English to students from all over the world. It introduced us to emerging fields of medical research, taught methods and skills, and promoted interdisciplinary and cross-cultural collaboration. Day trips to visit laboratories of the Généthon in Paris and Oniris in Nantes also let us explore these beautiful cities!
In addition to the academic programme, the University of Angers had organized central accommodation close to the beautiful castle and old town. We were given bikes to ride to University and had tremendous fun exploring the city and countryside! There was a great social component to the programme, and our group of twenty people from more than ten countries clicked immediately!
Before leaving for Angers, I was worried that I could not keep up academically or simply lacked research experience. However, working together in such an international and diverse group of students and scientists made it easy to catch up with any deficits I had. As we all studied different subjects, there would always be someone with more knowledge or different perspectives on complicated concepts. The different backgrounds made our discussions lively and thought-provoking.
I also worried that I’d struggle to get to know people, as I hardly speak any French. Anticipating the worst, I packed my suitcase full of big novels – but in the end, I did not read a single page! Luckily, our group clicked very quickly and despite all language barriers and cultural differences we formed close friendships. These friendships made my time in Angers even more beautiful. It was so interesting to talk about our different home countries, their healthcare systems, culture and food, whilst exploring Angers together.
The time I spent in Angers changed my outlook onto medical research and the way I would like to work in the future. It improved my research practices and made me understand the need for multi-disciplinary approaches. In our current time, it was a much needed reminder of how important (and fun!) international collaboration and friendship is. I am very grateful to the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund that allowed me to learn about medical research, form friendships, and broaden my knowledge and my horizon.