Penelope Newman

Why Leeds was the right fit for me

I have also been passionate and enthusiastic about living and studying in Korea and the University of Leeds had the most extensive list of Korean universities to study at for my year abroad. I also was really attracted to the MBiol integrated masters course that the Faculty of Biological Sciences offered.

I was passionate about studying in South Korea - Leeds helped me achieve this

I took part in a summer school programme at Yonsei University in South Korea in the summer of 2017 and then completed a study year abroad at Seoul National University (SNU) for the academic year 2017-2018. During my summer school programme, I applied for a paid internship at the Cheon Group, a nanoparticle institute affiliated with Yonsei University.

Study abroad is a great opportunity to expand your horizons in a completely different country with a different culture/language I was there for a total of 15 months and I loved it. Over the winter break, while studying at SNU, I worked part-time at the British Chamber of Commerce Korea and volunteered on the Winter Pyeongchang Olympic committee.

Living in South Korea broadened my horizons

I wanted to see if I would like working in South Korea after my graduation. After my year abroad, I concluded that I would, and have attempted to secure post-graduate jobs. It is very difficult to pick out a specific highlight over 15 months abroad. The overall experience changed my outlook on academia, for which I am very grateful for. I’ve learnt to manage my time and workload better so I am less likely to feel pressured by work – as it allowed me to see the bigger picture of what my studies could lead to.

My internship has helped me in my future career

After graduation, I wish to get involved in the cosmeceutical industry or nanoparticle/nanotechnology industry, hopefully in South Korea. Not only were other students at the summer school taking part in the same internship programme as me but there were also some native Korean students, all hoping to improve their chances at getting a graduate job in South Korea.

While out there I took this opportunity to learn more about nanoscience as a new subject. Not only did it open my mind to a whole new field of science, but also introduced me to other young Korean biochemist enthusiasts. They were able to give me great advice about how to get a postgraduate job in Korean cosmetic companies. I made many contacts in pharmaceutical companies, nanoparticle institutes and product R&D and marketing.

Developing networking skills to create my own opportunities

I gained insight about working in a Korean company and developed networking skills for future job opportunities – as it is difficult to get your foot in the door working in a different country. I had to keep an eye out for opportunities and learned how to take advantage of different opportunities that presented themselves.

My discovery module taught me new languages 

In my first and second year I took Elementary Korean (Year 1) and Beginners Japanese (Year 2) discovery modules. Korean was helpful for my year abroad. Additionally, my ability to speak Japanese helped me find volunteering opportunities during the Winter Pyeongchang Olympic as mutli-linguists were highly sought after.

Societies are a huge part of my time at Leeds 

I am currently part of the Taekwondo, Korean and Ice Hockey Society, but have also participated in raising £155 out of the total £23,000 raised for Leeds RAG Fashion Show 2019 which was an unforgettable experience. These societies have helped me broaden my social circles and meet new people that I would otherwise not have had an opportunity to meet if I just stayed on my course. I found that participating in societies’ and events totally separate from my degree helped me expand my horizons, while also making new friends from completely different walks of life. 

In particular, the team-aspect of Ice Hockey has helped my team building skills which is valuable to me as I believe many biochemists can work too independently and working with others is a vital skill. Being able to have a wider perspective on my academics has helped me in my studies. 

Overall, I've learnt so much from studying at Leeds 

My time abroad and my time at Leeds has given me insight into areas of scientific research that I would have otherwise never considered. Now have a very clear idea of which areas of research I would like to work in. The University of Leeds gives a very extensive and detailed biochemistry course – and it gives students an idea of how to be an independent scientist, my time abroad also gave me a great appreciation for the quality of teaching at the University of Leeds.