I'm currently sitting on a hard metal bar in Dubai airport, waiting for gate C20 to open, as this is the only place with a UK power socket. I'm here, of all places in the world, due to my summer placement in Perth, Australia!
There. That’s the exciting introduction done, now for the dull back-story.
I have just finished my second year studying Chemistry at Plymouth University, and therefore am at the point at which I should start thinking about dissertation… Or rather, that’s what I thought last September. Instead, I'm now on my way to Australia due to a very lucky and convenient chain of events (going something like me missing my gap year → realising I could do a summer placement research project → remembering I have an uncle in Perth → discovering there’s a recent PhD student from Plymouth doing research there in a similar field → asking a lot of people nicely → me sat here in Dubai airport!)
The similar field is in fact environmental analytical chemistry, which isn't quite accurate, but is the closest I can define the project at this stage of starting. I'm going to be sampling plant root exudate, and then analysing them, using a range of analytical instrumentation, along with any other techniques that turn up. How it goes from there is completely up in the air- it is novel research, which looks great on an undergraduate’s CV, but doesn't exactly inspire confidence past the hypothesis- although any data collected will be what I base my 3rd year dissertation on- in other words, I can’t mess it up.
So what am I expecting? Well, in all honesty, I have no idea! My international travel experience extends to a week-long school trip to New York, and a few France/Belgium school and family holidays, whereas my research experience is non-existent. There are a few things I can predict- mostly related to the literature review on the academic side, and to my personality on the rest! For example, I know how I'm sampling the plants, with what instrumentation I'm analysing the samples and the sort of results I hope to obtain. I also know I'm going to get overexcited at nerdy stuff and all the new places, and hopefully have a massive amount of fun! Yes, I'm a grown up. I also just noticed there are birds in the terminal….. But not Wi-Fi (that I can connect to)
Depending on how the summer goes, expect to see more posts around this topic and how my third year is going…Or perhaps not, if I get mauled to death by an angry koala. G’day!