4 years ago, as a new high school graduate, I never would have believed it if someone had told me that I would be living in a foreign country while studying at university. Firstly, I didn’t know how to cook, but secondly, I didn’t think my intense double degree had room for something so adventurous. Now I am proud to say that I have officially held a local residency card in Singapore while living there for 5 months.
My name is Anika Talukder, I am currently in my master’s year of study in Biomedical Engineering. Throughout my 4 years of study at Flinders University, I have had many wonderful opportunities that as a high schooler I did not imagine I could ever do. I have been involved in research studies both within Flinders University and the National University of Malaysia, but most recently, I have conducted my 20-week Work Integrated Learning (WIL) practicum at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP), Singapore. WIL allows Engineering and IT students to venture out to the “real world” and gain valuable experiences through working with companies, either locally, interstate, or internationally. I was one of the lucky six Flinders University students, awarded the New Columbo Plan scholarship to assist with my travels and living expenses while abroad.
My project involved creating a new method of facial recognition using thermal imaging, to meet the increasing demand for surveillance systems in both crime investigation and personal security. As a biomedical engineering student, this project presented many learning opportunities, as the level of programming required was more advanced than I had been exposed to within my degree. I needed to learn both a new programming language and how imaging processing techniques could be applied to reconstruct a thermal image into a visible image. This project allowed me to push myself and challenged me many times, which has elevated my problem solving and critical thinking skills.
My favourite aspects of Singapore were definitely spent sightseeing and exploring. Our favourite group activity was visiting Universal Studios, where we took full advantage of our Express Passes to hop on as many rides as possible. From eating our way around Singapore, attempting multiple escape rooms, watching the Gardens by the Bay light show, having Christmas BBQ by the Pasir Ris Park (which strangely felt a bit like Adelaide), to watching the hour-long fireworks by the iconic Marina Bay Sands on New Year’s Eve, this experience holds no shortage of wonderful memories. We always made sure to make most of our time away, even if we weren’t exploring Singapore; we would play board games and hold pizza and movie nights in our living room while appreciating the once in a lifetime opportunity we were so fortunate to share together.
Coming back to Adelaide, on the hottest day on record, I reflect on how much of a wholesome experience Singapore was. I am now ready to undertake my master’s year, feeling accomplished about how much I have grown personally. I highly recommend travelling internationally to anyone who has the opportunity.