Students' Feedback

 
Kai Lin Sun, Merton College, 1st Year BA Biological Sciences

WORK PROJECTS
My internship came in three key parts: firstly a four week internship in a microbiology institution labo-ratory, next a geo-ecological summer camp at PSU research base at Preduralye and then a weeklong stay at the restricted nature reserve 'Basegi' where we focused on ecology and botany. We were guided through each stage of our internship by experienced and helpful Russian experts in their respective fields. The laboratory classes were well taught and my PhD student supervisor was careful to explain and guide me through her research project investigating effects of nanoparticles on bacteria. in the field we were taught by geography and botany professors who seemingly knew everything in their subjects and really cared for our learning and wel-fare. So overall, I am grateful and privileged that my teachers at the internship were so great!
 
DAILY LIFE
I must admit that arriving in Russia, I had a big culture shock as it is so different from the UK, and PSU was very different from Oxford University - and the language barrier didn't help! Soon enough, with the help of the locals and the university students and organisers I got into the rhythm of life and work. I felt better as soon as I knew how to get around the city, what to eat and what I was expected to do in the labs. I had quite little free time throughout the internship because of our busy schedules. However, when I wasn't in the labs or out hiking in the field, I socialised with the other interns or international students, especially in the evenings. We tried a lot of the local cuisine in Perm city and on weekends PSU organised excursions to visit local sites of interest, for example an open air ethnographic museum and my favourite - the Kungur Ice Caves. I made good friends with the international students at the Preduralye Summer School, especially with the Chinese students who I often helped with English translations.
 
LASTING IMPRESSIONS
I've learnt so much from the internship - not only about biology which is what I came here to do, but about the culture and lifestyle of Russians, about the Perm region and St Petersburg and Moscow in my travels. I have also developed in so many ways personally - never have I been away in a foreign country for so long before! Although at times I have found things hard (for example difficulties communicating with the locals, not knowing where to get information or help, and missing friends and family from home), being outside of my comfort zone for so long has made me a stronger person overall and now I feel as if I can take on more than before. As for Russia itself, I greatly admire the country's interesting history, their wonderful people I met and their culture. By the end of the internship I was beginning to see Perm as a 'home' and was sad to leave. In my travels after the internship I found St Petersburg and Moscow very impressive and I was excited to see places I knew from my study of Rus-sian history at school. Overall I do admire Russia as a country and I intend to come back to visit in two to three years' time.
 


William Stone, The Queen's College, 2nd Year BA Biology
 
WORK PROJECTS
I was part of three projects during my time here. The first was a microbiology investigation under the supervision of a PHD student looking at bioremediation techniques. This was a particularly insightful experience into real life scientific research and I really enjoyed being able to work independently in a functioning research lab. The second was a geo-ecological field school where we were surveying different parts of Preduralye. This was a fantastic environment to work in as it was a hugely international community. The final part was a four day visit to a nature reserve where we explored and learnt about the natural boreal forest ecosystem. This was a beautiful location and I thoroughly enjoyed being in the wilderness.
 
DAILY LIFE
For the first four weeks of the internship I was working Monday to Friday at a research lab in the city. I had to walk there and back each day on my own. Outside of work I spent a lot of time with my two roommates during the weekdays initially. As the internship went on we started to go out for more meals each week with other interns and local Russian friends we met. Each weekend we would explore the city and the surrounding area as a group which was nice.
 
LASTING IMPRESSIONS
This internship was a thoroughly enriching experience and I have gained real insight into biology research, Russia and life skills. The work part of the internship has allowed me to identify certain aspects of a biology career that I would enjoy and others that I would not. What's more, I've met countless new people from many walks of life and many different places. I have learnt so much about myself and how to conduct myself and communicate with many types of people. I will never forget this experience as it has taught me so much.
 

Manon Seguin, St. Peter's College, 1st Year BA Biological Sciences
 
WORK PROJECTS
Our internship consisted of three different projects over seven weeks. The first project was in the microbiology lab for four weeks. We received lessons on microbiology techniques like gram staining, bacterial morphology identification, growing and transferring cultures on different mediums like slanted agar, petri dish and liquid culture. We each also worked with a supervisor for individual projects that were tailored to our interest. Mine was on studying the effect of using fluidized bed reactors with different bacterial strains on the amount of hydrocarbons in real oil contaminated water. The second project was participating in the geo-ecological summer school in Preduralie. Students from Italy, Uzbekistan, and Russia also attended the school which made this project a cultural experience. We participated in research to map the reserve so we collected samples of dominant plants to create a herbarium and also soil samples from different areas. We would walk about 5 to 7 hours a day, and then identified the plants collected and worked on the report. After dinner there were sports organized and on the last day there was a singing show we could participate in. The last project was a week spent in a natural reserve on the chain of the Ureal mountains. We participated in the phenological research of the area by collecting data on yield of berries, number of individual of red list species and collecting samples of dominant species. The reserve was beautiful and the traditional Russian recipe that we cooked was excellent. We also received Russians lessons from Perm State University which were very useful as very few locals understood English.
 
DAILY LIFE
For one month, we made our way to the laboratory by foot, we could also take the tram if we preferred as the tram station was right outside the hostel. After 5pm, I would either go to Russian lessons, go shopping, go home or hang out with the other Oxford interns and the volunteers. We would walk around the city discovering all it had to offer. We would also go to restaurants as groups quite frequently as it was a great way of all of us being together.
 
LASTING IMPRESSIONS
This internship has allowed me to discover Russia in a non-touristic way as we were able to learn Russian culture from locals, experience tradition and see countryside areas that most do not. The cultural experience was one of the best things about this internship. I would come back to live in St Petersburg but not in Perm because of the language barrier. Before the internship, I had no experience in laboratory work or in field work but these projects exposed me to both. I was able to experience a month of working in a laboratory and also participate in research in nature reserve. Through these, I was able to see the positives and negatives of doing either but I am unsure as to which I prefer yet. It does however make me want to pursue work experience in both microbiology and ecology as this was highly interesting.
 

Lewis Revely, Christ Church College, 2nd Year BA Biological Sciences
 
WORK PROJECTS
For the first four weeks we undertook research into microbiology and bioremediation studies using bacteria. After this we did a summer school for ecology in the forest and then one week in a restricted access national park called Basegi.
 
DAILY LIFE
A lot of the day was spent at the lab but after that we enjoyed the varied cuisine available in Perm, as well as the major sites in the area on weekends such as Kungur ice caves.
 
LASTING IMPRESSIONS
This internship has allowed me to realise that a career in research in a lab would actually be more preferable than in the field. I wasn't sure what to expect from Russia but the people there were welcoming and Perm was a great place to live for the last two months.
 

Rosie Power, The Queen's College, 2nd Year BA Biological Sciences
 
WORK PROJECTS
Our internship was split into two parts. The first part took place in Perm State Microbiology lab, where we were given individual projects and supervisors. The second part of the internship consisted of field trips to two nature reserves, Preduralie and Basegi.
 
DAILY LIFE
During our time in the microbiology lab, I would be at the lab by 10. Work usually lasted until 4 or 5. In the evenings I generally spent my time going out to dinner, and on the weekend I went on or¬ganised excursions such as to Perm Ethnographic Museum.
 
LASTING IMPRESSIONS
Russia was a beautiful and welcoming place with the local people of Perm seeming to be willing to help at any moment. It has given me further ap¬preciation into the field of microbiology and more broadly lab work.
 

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