In June 2017, I was able to take part in a summer exchange programme between the University of Edinburgh and ANNA University in Chennai India. As one of the top ranking universities in India, I am very fortunate to have been afforded this opportunity.
Seventeen students from Edinburgh took part in the program alongside students from ANNA University. The course was entitled “Engineering and Technology for Social and Global Developments” and consisted of morning lectures and afternoon laboratory sessions. A wide range of topics were covered including; food technology, flood risk management and disaster resilience in urban development, climate change mitigation and environmental science. The lectures were based on the academics area of research and provided an insight into how their research was applicable in India, for example the development of new building materials to reduce the energy requirement (or requirement at all) of air conditioning units. As an aspiring researcher; it was exciting to learn about both how the research at ANNA had improved the lives of people in India and abroad and how they were planning to continue their positive impact.
Students at the end of the programme with directors of ANNA University
Outside class, we were able to explore Chennai and the surrounding towns with our course mates. This included visits to local temples and tourist sites, such as the Marina beach, which is the second longest beach in the world! At weekends we visited nearby cities and towns including Pondicherry, a coastal town that was used by French colonialists as a port and as a result has interesting an architectural mix between French and Indian styles. We also visited Auroville, an experimental township whose purpose, according to its founder Mirra Alfassa, “is to realise human unity.” During a visit to Mahabalipuram, we were able to visit temples that were built in the 7th and 8th centuries alongside Krishnas’ butter ball (shown below). Our final trip was to Kanchipuram, a town southwest of Chennai that is famous for both its important and vibrant temples and the high quality silks produced there. I could not fail to mention the incredible food we were able to eat throughout, from street food and local restaurants to food served within the temples, the journey was worth it for the food alone!
The group in Pondicherry
After a chaotic 4th year of University, two weeks away from Edinburgh and experiencing a different culture to my own was the perfect change before a busy summer. I was able to make lasting friendships with students from both Edinburgh and Chennai while experiencing a new culture and further developing my breadth of knowledge within engineering. Without the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund, I would not have been able to take part in this programme, thank you for the support!
I spent two weeks at a clinic in Morocco that provides free vet care to horses, donkeys, and mules in the city of Fez. As I am a vet student, I was working alongside veterinarians to provide the best possible care for these animals. The work was very rewarding and it was great to know that I was supporting the livelihoods of the families using the animals everyday to perform tasks such as carrying water and goods. Below are some photos from my time spent there.
As a result of year long preparations, my team were invited to SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition Finals. As one of 24 top teams, we presented our design – Poddy McPodface. I travelled with over 20 other students from our Uni and spent weeks in LA area putting final touches on the prototype and preparing for the competition. Despite stress and things not playing out the way we wanted in the end it was certainly the most amazing and empowering experience of my life.
Chris Hani Baragwanath, situated in Soweto township, is South Africa’s largest hospital.
The trauma department is the largest in the world seeing on average 100-200 patients in any 24hr period.
It has a renowned training programme attracting medical students and doctors from all over the world.
Ward 1 Trauma
All crime must stop at the entrance to the trauma department. The hospital operates a very strict no-violence policy.
Trauma pit on a busy Saturday night – 150 patients through the department by 4am!
Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg
First sight of Africa
First day on project – plastic bottles recovered from rubbish waiting to be filled with sand and used as bricks for the sanitation block
First day on project – site for the sanitation block
Plastic bottles filled with sand waiting to be made into walls
Laying of the sand filled plastic bottles to build walls for the sanitation block
Wall of the sanitation block
Teaching local school children about climate change and the problem of waste
Wearing traditional kente scarfs presented to us by the school and participating in a traditional dance performed by school children
Weekend Travel – Larabanga Mosque (oldest building in Ghana)
Weekend Travel – wild elephants at Mole national park
Weekend Travel – Nzulezo (village on stilts)
Weekend Travel – Beyin Beach
Weekend Travel – Cape Coast Castle
A group of students from Edinburgh University, the majority of which were penultimate year law students, traveled to Panama to participate in a human rights program helping rural Panamanian communities access legal guidance. We held legal clinics while also personally assisting two different families on two different legal processes. While we were there we also held a ‘charla’, or chat, with a group of local kids to teach them about the harms of bullying.
In Panama we also got to visit a minority group, called the Kuna. A woman there was kind enough to show us her creations while our guide taught us about the group and their community.
Above, pictured with my group and the family we helped.
This summer I spent the trip of a lifetime in Tamil Nadu, India. The purpose of the trip was to build an additional classroom for a small primary school in an extremely rural village. As a teaching student, I was also heavily involved in classroom work helping to teach English and Music. The experience was amazing and one I will never forget! The people I met and the places I saw were extraordinary and without the Principles Go Abroad fund, this project would not have been possible. Below is a picture blog showing some of the great experiences I had this summer.