Undergraduate Research Conference 2014

Medical Student Phyo Htet Khaing from the University of Birmingham describes her experience at the 2014 URC in Shanghai.

The conference commenced on the 7th of July in the afternoon with an icebreaking activity at the Xuhui campus. This included a variety of games and teamwork activities, which enabled us to get comfortable with each other. As my room-mate and me got on extremely well together, I immediately became very good friends with her colleagues from the University of Melbourne as well.

The second day was more official and it consisted of oral presentations. As the theme was ‘Food Safety’, a lot of other students have a Science background related to food. Being the only medical student, it was an eye-opening experience for me as I learnt about topics such as international trade laws regarding food, laboratory grown meat and the effects of pesticides. In the evening, the university kindly arranged to take us to the Shanghai theatre to watch an amazing acrobatics show. This was a brilliant opportunity for students to bond and discuss their research. We also had similar opportunites to make friends on free evenings, which allowed us to travel together in groups to have dinner.

The next two days included poster presentations during breaks and lunch. I was stationed by my poster throughout these times and it was an absolute delight to have a crowd of interested students and staff asking questions about my research and also receiving ideas and feedback from them. This boosted my confidence in many aspects. For instance, my presentation skills have certainly improved and it gave me a lot of practice in avoiding medical jargon. Prior to the poster session, we were each given three flower stickers to stick on our favourite posters, whereas for oral presentations, we voted for three of our favourite presentations of the day using slips.

On the 10th of July, after a short round of oral presentations, there was an award ceremony in the afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised at the end when my name was announced for the best poster prize, and I felt very happy to win such an award whilst representing the University of Birmingham at an international level.

The next day consisted of an excursion to the beautiful city of Hangzhou, which is a few hours away from Shanghai by bus. Hangzhou is renowned for its scenic lakes, and we were fortunate enough to get a free boat ride on the famous West lake. Despite the intense heat, the scenery was breathtaking and it was interesting to see the pagodas as well . Later in the evening, I headed off to Pudong airport to catch the flight back home.

I loved every second of my adventure. As I reflect back on my experience, I have undoubtedly become more mature, independent and confident in my own abilities. Even though it seemed a bit scary at first, I managed to make a lot of lifelong friends and it feels incredible to have experienced the modern Chinese culture. I am forever grateful to the University of Birmingham for awarding me with such an opportunity like this.