STUDY ABROAD ALUMNI STORY
Why did you decide to do an international internship?
I was looking for research in biomedical engineering, specifically in instrumentation and medical devices. The National University of Singapore's (NUS) exchange with my home institution made this search simpler. I gave me the hands-on experience I was looking for. Getting the Gilman Scholarship secured this trip, and there is no way I would have the amazing experience without it.
Tell us about the program you went on
NUS's program partnering with several institutions for study abroad is called the Summer Engineering Research Internship for U.S. Students (SERIUS). I stayed on campus at the Prince George’s Dormitory. All students in the program were accepted to work with different research faculty on projects that they applied for. I looked into programming a sensor to measure arm motion for post-stroke patients for rehabilitation. I am grateful for Dr. Yu Haoyong's mentorship and advice on the project and was able to pass it on after I left. In addition to research, touring Singapore’s many exotic attractions was quite doable. There were hanging gardens, tropical rainforests, miles of shopping, and hordes more of multicultural blends of foods from all of Southeast Asia. Singapore developed into a blossoming city-state of many cultural influences that made my time there exciting.
How did you pay for your intern abroad experience?
The Johns Hopkins University School of Engineering sponsored the program’s tuition. For the flight, room, and board, I received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship funded by the U.S. Department of State. Together the two grants gave me the chance to pursue the summer program in Singapore.
What is one thing you wish you would have known about interning abroad before you left?
I wish I knew to find out more about my mentor, my project, and planned my weekend excursions before I got to Singapore. It would have prepared me for what was to come, and given me more time to explore the city. My 8-week program passed by too quickly, and I miss exploring the many facets of Singapore that I discovered while there.
Did you experience any discrimination abroad because of your race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or a physical disability? If so, what did you learn from the experience?
Singapore’s culture emphasizes the respect rooted from filial piety and combined with the new-age mindset of most people, everyone was quite receptive of me and other study abroad students. The country sets education as its utmost priority, and to see foreign students pleased many natives.
How has interning abroad benefited you, personally and academically?
The internship gave me familiarity with medical device design, and cooperation with physicians and clinicians. I had the opportunity to talk to engineering professors, clinicians, and researchers all working to learn and help rehabilitate stroke survivors. It gave me a better outlook on areas of focus for my own studies back at Hopkins.
What was the most memorable moment of interning abroad?
One weekend, several students and I walked through the urban Gardens by the Bay and looked over the bay towards the two giant durian-shaped buildings (the Esplanade). We then stopped in Chinatown and visited all the shops and alleys to end up at the renown food centers. I think we ended the night in Clarke Quay in time to experience the nightlife experience by the river. It was indeed an urban adventure that pretty much set the experience for the summer: food and fancy.
What advice do you have for students thinking about international internships?
Find what you want to do in the place you want to go. If there's a program that fits both criteria, take it and don't look back. If money becomes an issue, definitely look for scholarships like the Gilman Scholarship for study abroad.
Any additional comments or thoughts that you have about your intern abroad experience
As part of the Gilman Scholarship, I did a follow-up project. I gave a short talk to other students in my major back at Hopkins. My point was that its possible to study abroad, even after freshman year, and find funding to do so. I coordinated with Gilman to speak about my experiences at the 2014 National Engineers Without Borders Conference and at County of Baltimore Community Colleges. Everyone that I talked to felt better about study abroad for themselves.