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My name is Madelain and I have recently completed the MSc Nutrition and Behaviour course at Bournemouth University (BU). Having completed an undergraduate degree in BSc Public health, I found I had a keen interest in nutrition, as well as promoting overall health and wellbeing.

I had always been interested in the idea of traveling or working/studying overseas, but I had never had the opportunity. Barriers such as time, logistics, Covid and finances had always prevented me from taking this step.

Through my MSc Nutrition and Behaviour course at BU, I finally had an opportunity to undertake an enriching academic programme abroad, through the Turing Scheme. This would be in conjunction with the Universiti Sains Malaysia and be part of my postgraduate studies. I would now get the longed-for chance to explore a different culture, meet new people and enhance my future job prospects.

The Turing Scheme funding covered the majority of the costs, including flights and accommodation. We were supported the whole way through the process, from applying for the funding to being welcomed and collected at the airport. Without the Turing Scheme I would never have been able to take part in an opportunity like this!

This programme consisted of various components, including a research element, community engagement, professional practice and cultural experiences. All of these encompassed aspects related to Nutrition and Physical Activity, as well as providing global exposure. The 28 day programme included visiting USM main campus in Penang, the USM Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies, and the Health Campus in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan.Roundabout

During our time in Penang, we completed a research project focused on the health-related behaviours and lifestyle practices of adults in their diverse communities. This was primarily completed through interviews and daily observations of local markets and food retailers, shopping habits, food preparation, and exercise. We then went on to compare them with practices in the United Kingdom. During our research we explored inner cities, small towns and rural areas of Malaysia.

Obviously, we also enjoyed sampling the delicacies of Malaysia, from street food, Michelin star restaurant cuisine, traditional home cooked food and not forgetting curry for breakfast! We were lucky enough to have a ‘buddy’ from USM, who showed us around, provided transport and highlighted all the best spots to visit. While in Penang we visited temples, explored George Town, experienced beautiful beaches, and visited the National Park. We sampled local markets, drove into the jungle to be welcomed by an indigenous community, enjoyed local nightlife, and learnt how to avoid the many mischievous monkeys we encountered!

After an internal flight to the east coast, we arrived in Kelantan, where The Health Campus is situated. Here we had the opportunity to learn how to cook local dishes, visit the food science laboratories, meet nutrition and dietetics lecturers, and visit the USM teaching hospital. While we were here, we booked an overnight stay on the Perhentian Islands. This was an unforgettable experience, involving sandy beaches, palm trees and snorkelling with sharks and giant turtles.

Four students sat together and one student stood behind Participating in learning experiences abroad offers a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth, as well as international networking. It was fantastic to engage and communicate with individuals from different backgrounds, allowing me to gain an appreciation of a culture completely different to mine. Through collaborating, with both students and professionals, I learnt new techniques, research methodologies, and cutting-edge advancements in the field of nutrition.

This experience challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone, improved my resilience and developed my confidence and independence. I had never been away from home for so long, let alone to the other side of the world! I know that this is a cliché, but this experience has opened my eyes to so many future possibilities and enriched my outlook on life.

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