Looking Back on a Fun Internship
Serena Chang | Oct. 4, 2010
The two PRIME students at a local village school.
It’s good to be back. Surrounded by familiar faces, environments and situations, life is routine again. Reality creeps in, with its partner nostalgia, trailing memories like a bride in a flowing gown. It’s true, I missed home so much during my stay in Malaysia, but now that I have returned, I miss the people and food over there, dearly!
Not only is the chow in Penang outrageously delicious, but also amazingly priced. Food here costs so much more, about $7 to 10 a meal on average for me. In Malaysia, I spent around $1 to 3! I remember gloating over the fact that the ever-shrinking U.S. dollar was still quite powerful in Malaysia. On the discount movie night, I paid only $2 to enjoy a popular film at the mall theatre (normal price is $3 to 4). It felt nice that I could do the things I love, such as eating and watching movies, so easily and affordably. The economic aspect definitely made my PRIME internship more fun.
It was also awesome how I got to hang out with the locals and do the things they enjoy—karaoke, clubbing, shopping in the night markets, and hanging out at friends’ apartments. Having fun with them made me feel truly welcomed and embraced by my Malay friends. Such warmth and hospitality certainly seem more uncommon back home. In America, people generally expect something in return of a favor or certain behavior. But my friends in Malaysia just offer and do things for you because as friends, they want to help ease or cheer your spirits. Perhaps this hospitable characteristic is just an Asian or non-American thing, or maybe I just met some truly wonderful people. Regardless, I am so thankful that I shared good times with these people.
Enjoying a bowl of cendol, a Malaysian dessert.
Research-wise, I have learned so much about using software, Web interfaces and biochemistry to carry out my project. My goal was to sulfate human glycans and to measure the effects of sulfation in H1N1 receptor binding affinity. Overall, I was successful in determining the effects of glycan sulfation, though further verification may have to be done to confirm my results. I found that while I don’t really like doing computer modeling and docking research, at least I understand what it entails. I’m extremely glad this internship gave me the opportunity to experience participating in this kind of research.
Of course, I don’t miss the weather and the vicious mosquitoes in Malaysia one bit. The cool breezy air and the relatively bug-free conditions back home are luxuries I used to take for granted, but now relish contentedly. I realize how tremendously lucky I was to be selected for PRIME. My trip to Malaysia has stretched my global perspective on different cultures and has sharpened my taste for exotic foods and travel. I have also gained a better sense of who I am and where I am going in my life. Terima kasih (that’s “thank you” in Malay) from the bottom of my heart to all the good people and organizations who blessed me with these life-changing two months. Future PRIME students, how I wish I were in your shoes!