‘Summer in the City’ (New York)

Leave a comment Standard

I was lucky to have the opportunity to undertake a five week legal internship in New York City, at a civil rights law firm. I looked forward to the internship throughout my final year at university. Thinking about all the fun I would have and what it would be like to ‘live in the City’ made all the hard work of fourth year worth it! However, the invaluable experience did not come without hard work to prepare for it (difficulties in finding accommodation, visa considerations etc.) and even with this all organised, by the time came to get on the flight, I had a few worries about what it truly meant to be a New Yorker for the summer.

Being someone who likes company, I was concerned about my first truly solo trip. They do say that despite the population nearing nine million, NYC can be one of the loneliest places to live. However, the flight proved the first opportunity to make friends and connections in the City. The lady who I sat next to happened to work in the civil rights field and as well as having lots of interesting tales of her exciting working life and showing interest in my internship, she also had some good tips on how to work the daunting subway system! She was kind enough to give me her business card and offered to help if I needed help over my placement. It seems that you never know where you will meet interesting people and eased my concern about being lonely for the summer.

With sound advice from my friend on the flight, I made it to my accommodation the New Yorker way; one train, one subway, two overweight suitcases and a lot of stairs! Having researched where to stay in NYC, I decided on a residence for women who intern in the city. Although seeming a bit of a ‘blast from the past’ with a no boys policy, it was a safe, affordable and fun place to stay. My experience at the residence demonstrated how important it is to find somewhere that will suit you to live, it gave me the opportunity to take part in social events and meet people, who similarly to me, wanted to make the most of their time in NYC.

Having settled in to my accommodation, the next event was starting work. I could not wait to get stuck in and gain experience in the civil rights field, something which I would not be able to do back home. I had been told that part of my role would include delivering documents across to some of the courts across the district. At first I found the sheer number of people travelling to work and the widely scattered courts intimidating. It is a little different to what now seems the more compact system in Scotland. However, after shadowing my supervisors for the first couple of court runs, I soon found it easy to find my way around and enjoyed getting to see all the different parts of New York along the way. One of the courts was beside the famous Yankee Stadium and so I could really do some sightseeing on the go!

I found that this ability to get manoeuvre my way around the busy city, made me more adventurous in my spare time. I The challenges I faced in NYC made me more independent and some of the highlights were things I had done myself including the runs across the Brooklyn Bridge and visits to the arts museums. I am extremely grateful for having had this taster of life living in the city and the experience has given me confidence that I am able to handle challenging situations. I am now left trying to think of my next excuse to go back!



Engineering in Cambodia

Leave a comment Standard

This summer I had an opportunity to travel to Cambodia and work with the local NGO, Community First, on developing and building aquaponics systems for the rural community in Siem Reap province. We started as a group of four engineering students who were involved in student-led society, Engineering for Change, and wanted to spend a part of our summer volunteering. Before going, we looked at the current aquaponics designs, came up with the ways how they could be improved, even tried to build one of our own here in Edinburgh. The main reason why we chose aquaponics development is the current situation in Cambodia where average diet in rural areas has led to many of its population suffering from malnutrition and diabetes. Some organisations within the country, such as Community First Initiative (CFI), are working to overcome this problem by developing more efficient and sustainable methods of farming that are completely organic and off-soil.

Before leaving, I was concerned about facing similar challenges to my previous journey to the program I attended in China, where I found out local community had a different understanding of the concept of personal space than mine. Also, travelling to a country where I could only communicate with the minority of population speaking in English. However, Cambodia proved me wrong, local people were very welcoming and understanding while most of the people tried their best to communicate, universal hand gestures and facial expressions helped a lot.

This trip was a lifetime experience that helped me to realise that I am privileged to have such an opportunity and made me reconsider some of my personal values. After meeting people from one of the poorest countries in the world, everyday worries and complaints, such as having no time to have coffee in the morning, became so meaningless in comparison to people’s problems of not being able to let their children attend school because of financial difficulties. In addition to this learning experience, I should not forget all the technical skills that I gained about aquaponic and water purification systems, design skills while making drawings for drainage systems and creating floor plans for the local school. Overall, I really enjoyed this trip and would definitely recommend something similar to everyone who might be questioning our everyday life style in relatively more developed countries.




Getting the most out of China

Leave a comment Standard

After a few days in the wonderful city of Chendgu, a second-tier city in South-West China, I came to realise that pandas are just the very start of what’s going on. I loved how easy-going the city was (in comparison to Beijing!) whilst working doing coaching, marketing and research.

My confidence grew enormously, and by the end of the month I was teaching in mandarin, running the day-to-day summer camp operations, and working on the company’s marketing presence. Having whole classes of young people look up to me as a role model made me appreciate how fortunate I am, and what a great responsibility my role had been. These children were captivated by stories of the UK, saying how they dream of studying back in the U.S. of U.k.


In addition, during my time in Beijing I was able to visit museums, and talk to a wide spectrum of people, making progress with my dissertation. This experience has been invaluable in setting me up for me year abroad, giving me the foundation from which to build on during my third year abroad studies, and allowed me to adjust to the great jump in cultures.


Not only did my language skills come on leaps and bounds, but I learnt far more about what running a business entails, having had a real hands-on approach with the company I was interned for. I wrote up information for the website, blogs and developed their long term marketing plan, as well as making numerous contacts (especially important in the Chinese business world).

I explored much of both Beijing and Chengdu, both by day and night, making a host of Chinese and international friends along the way. Till next time.


Teaching in Tanzania

Leave a comment Standard

In June 2016 I embarked upon my journey to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania as an exchange participant in AIESEC’s global volunteer programme. I travelled there to work on the Jali (Care) Project, an initiative run by a Kijitonyama-based NGO called Tanzania Aspiration Initiatives. I chose this project because it focused on several issues that I care deeply about, including human rights and social action, gender equality, health, education and poverty alleviation.

Before I left the Isle of Man for Tanzania, there were several things that I was concerned about. Firstly, I was worried that I would suffer from the culture shock. Having never been to Africa before, I feared the total immersion in entirely unfamiliar cultural surroundings. With no friends or acquaintances in Tanzania, I also worried about feeling lonely and homesick – after all, eight weeks is a long time to be away from home! I was also anxious about the job description. Having only been given fairly vague instructions, I was not entirely clear on exactly what my day-to-day work would entail.

Arriving at the airport in Dar es Salaam, I was picked up by an AIESEC UDSM member and taken to my accommodation – which I can definitely say reminded me just how far away from home I really was. Despite finding my accommodation, you could say – uncomfortable, I was welcomed with huge enthusiasm by the AIESEC team and other volunteers working on several different projects in the area.

On my first day of work I was introduced to the founders of TAI and several of their volunteers. I was thrown in at the deep end, and one of my first tasks was to give reproductive and sexual health lessons to the adolescent girls living at a local orphanage. The language barrier was at first a challenge, but it did not take long before these girls became truly engaged and interested in this vital information that they were not given in school. Another of my tasks was to devise a curriculum to be followed when TAI returned to the local schools after their holiday break was over. Here I learned of a serious gap in Tanzanian education caused by attitudes towards ‘unmentionable’ yet vital topics such as sex education, menstruation, contraception and STIs. Our curriculum aimed to overcome this gap. Another of my jobs was to organise an event celebrating and supporting USAID’s ‘Africa For Her’ initiative. I was forced practise several skills including public relations, public speaking and events management. Continuing with the theme of the event, I was heavily involved in TAI’s fundraising campaign devised for purchasing sanitary pads for girls in rural areas who are forced to miss up to a week of school every month due to menstruation.

This experience truly pulled me out of my comfort zone yet I gained from it several new professional skills, an understanding of Tanzanian culture and friends for life, whilst at the same time making an impact in TAI’s local community.


The TAI team at the Africa For Her event organised and hosted by TAI


Discussing the idea of re-usable sanitary pads for girls in rural areas of Tanzania


The girls receiving education at the Sinza orphanage in Dar es Salaam


The TAI team climbing Mt Kilimanjaro as part of the ‘Climb Kili for Girls’ campaign, raising money and awareness about the barriers preventing girls from attending school in Tanzania


TAI volunteers teaching in Makumbusho secondary school

Graphic Design internship at a Saffron Brand Consultants in Madrid

Leave a comment Standard

Early on in the year I knew that I wanted to spend my summer doing something exciting and worthwhile. My preferred destination was Spain because it is where I would like to work when I graduate. Madrid and Barcelona are two cities that I feel immensely attracted to, they are home to internationally recognized branding and graphic design agencies with unique styles. After carrying out research on some of the best graphic design agencies in Spain, I took the initiative to approach each one of the individually and offer myself as an intern for the summer. I created a set of postcards showcasing my work, introducing myself and sent one to each one of my 10 chosen agencies. I was quite ambitious with my choice of agencies; they were all very well known and received tons of portfolios from students. I was lucky that one of them got back to me and offered me and internship: Saffron in Madrid, founded by the legend Wally Olins!

I wasn’t specially worried before I left for Spain. I’m fluent in Spanish and I’m familiar with the culture, however, I had never lived in such a big city and that made me feel a little bit nervous but excited at the same time. I was a slightly concerned about what my accommodation would be like, considering I booked it without viewing the flat previously as I needed a place to stay as soon as I arrived in Madrid. I had never before shared a flat with 9 people, but the flat looked quite nice online and the landlord was very friendly over the phone. I was a bit worried of living with very noisy people and having trouble sleeping.

My room turned out to be lovely. There were one or two parties on weeknights but I survived. By the end of my stay Madrid felt like home and I didn’t want to leave. I had become used to my routine at work and I had become familiar with working in a large company. At Saffron I learned how keeping organized, communicative and efficient is crucial when work as a part of a big team. It was amazing being surrounded by many people with different skills, I was asking people for tips and advice to help me with my work. I have learned many new skills specially regarding the Adobe Suit software. Of course I had a mentor that made me feel supported along the way, but I learned that if you want something you have to go and get, people are busy with their own work to be worrying about how you’re getting on. For me, the most valuable part of my experience were all the wonderful people I met from all over the world (France, Morocco, Italy, Germany, Israel, UK, Spain, USA, Honduras, Mexico and many others). I have made friends for life and have found a home in Madrid.


The view from my room in Madrid


The Fuencarral Market


El Retiro Park


The Saffron Interns


My work sketchbook

The University of Madras and the Garden of Peace, India

Leave a comment Standard

This summer I was lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to visit the University of Madras and travel throughout the south of India, alongside nine other University of Edinburgh students from various degree backgrounds.


In our first week in Chennai, we went to lectures at the University of Madras. Each guest lecturer gave us insight into their respective disciples, and I learned about everything from the position of women in India and its caste system, to the evolution of science.


That said, my focus was to gain an insight into the media industry. Journalism documents and influences everyday society and culture in numerous ways and languages, and thus it seemed essential to me to explore it as I intended to grasp an understanding of life in India.

Perhaps the most valuable experience, though, was being able to personally interact with fellow students, as well as group leaders, from both from the University of Madras and University of Edinburgh, and learn from them, about their lives, culture and individual opinions.

Admittedly, my main apprehension before travelling to India food, as I am a vegan. I thought that I would find eating in India extremely difficult, however I quickly came to learn that eating vegan food is far easier than it is in Scotland, and is much more accepted. In fact, a large proportion of the Indian population is strictly vegetarian, and thus most places I ate were so, giving me plenty of options.


My time at the Garden of Peace was the highlight of my trip to India, and one of the best times of my life. The Garden of Peace is a learning community that is primarily a school for young children. It is self-fulfilling, with parents taking part in the running of the school, and teachers being from local villages. Its purpose is to help the development of people from local surrounding villages. Professor Manuvanan, who taught us at the Universtiy of Madras, leads and funds the community.

To see how places like the Garden of Peace function, with everyone from parents to university students pitching in is heart-warming. Everything that happens at is for the benefit of those that participate. From sleeping on the roof at night, getting up at 6am to practice yoga, playing football, and helping to serve the community meals, everything was, frankly, quite magical. Further, celebrating Independence Day at the Garden of Peace was special, with a beautiful ceremony from pupils, and allowed me to understand the importance of it, as well as engage in cultural performance.



Throughout my journey, I learned and experienced an incredible amount, which I will undoubtedly stay with me throughout university, after graduate, and beyond. I took myself far outside my comfort zone, gained an understanding of a completely different culture, met great people, and, importantly, developed individually.

Jaipur, India – Help In Suffering

Leave a comment Standard

This summer I spent 4 weeks at a charity veterinary clinic in Jaipur, India. I had always wanted to visit India, and as this is a country with an over-population of street dogs – it is the perfect place to undertake a veterinary internship. The clinic had an abundance of animals including: 80-90 dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, peacocks, monkeys, squirrels, pigeons, eagles and many more! They also have animal ambulances and a separate camel clinic. The rest of the staff were all Indian bar 1 vet from England – this was a fantastic opportunity to really mix with local people.

Before I left I had a few worries. Firstly, the language. I was worried that as I knew no Hindi that there might be problems communicating in the clinic. I attempted to learn the basics of Hindi on the plane such as counting to 20 – this was very well received as the staff loved that I had attempted to learn a tiny bit of their language. Also, everybody was so friendly that even when they weren’t sure how to explain in English they would always try their best to communicate by other means. Secondly, the heat. Luckily I found out when I arrived it was the beginning of the monsoon season! This meant that the hot temperatures of June started to decline and we were blessed with rain. Not only did this mean it was suitably cool, it also meant that green plants arose in areas that are brown the rest of the year. Thirdly, the food. It turns out I loved the food. We were looked after by a lovely lady called Manju who cooked us all of our meals with a variety of vegetables. Rhajastani food is very special!

I learnt so much that I couldn’t fit it all in this blog. I learnt many invaluable veterinary skills which I could not have gained so quickly in the UK. I did my first surgeries, got lots of practice of placing ET tubes and IV lines and learnt a lot about drug therapies. My communication skills were also improved – I became comfortable with all the staff there and able to participate in conversations both about veterinary and general life. India is very very different to the UK, but I feel I adapted to this change in lifestyle well. The key I found is to be laidback and not rush things – it will no doubt take 4 times longer than you first expected! The culture in India is amazing and something I would never have been able to experience should I not have undertaken this experience. I hope these pictures help you appreciate how valuable I found the experience.