I went to the National University of Singapore for 5 months in my fourth year of undergrad. I took a couple of nanoscience courses and got involved in nanoparticle research, which was great because I really wanted to test out the waters in that field. The field itself is probably 20-30 years old, but it has developed so rapidly and there are so many clinical applications, that I think the possibilities are really going to move medicine in a new direction.
In addition to research, another thing that took me to Singapore was my love of travel. I had never been to Southeast Asia before, so I really took advantage of the opportunities I was given. I visited Cambodia, Vietnam, and Malaysia before my studies, and during them, I went to be Burma and Hong Kong. After, I went to Indonesia (including Bali) and Thailand.
To which one of these would you return?
I would love to go back to Burma because it is so unique, untouched, and the people were very genuine. There’s this place called Bagan, and it’s known because of its expansive array of temples. My friend from Singapore and I rented bicycles for two days, but that was nowhere enough to see the thousands of temples there. You can go to each temple, look on the outside, sometimes you can go inside or up them. What we would do is wake up at 4 a.m., get on our bikes and we’d go to this one temple that was known to be a great temple from which to see the sunrise. We’d take tons of pictures and there were lots of other tourists and locals who were really fascinated by the scene. This location was also known for its hot air balloons, so you’d see lots of hot air balloons and people doing sunrise tours in them.
What attracts you most to traveling?
I love learning about new cultures and how it is to live in different places. Something I love is being around the locals when I’m in a new place. Making friends with them means I get to see a different slice of life. I like finding people that show me local restaurants and explain how life looks on a day-to-day basis. In Singapore, I made a friend that would explain to me how housing, the government, and education worked. I find it very neat to learn about how a country is run. Traveling like this and hearing these stories makes for an experience unlike anything else in your life. You look back at it and it really doesn’t fit with the rest of your life.
In addition to travel, what else are you passionate about?
Running! That passion began in grade school. I joined my school’s cross-country team in grade 5 or 6 and have continued long distance running until now. In high school, I met some people who were distance runners and I learned that running a half marathon required running only a few more kilometers than I was already doing daily. You have to be 16 to run a half marathon, so, two weeks after I turned 16, I did a half marathon. Four weeks after I turned 18, I did a full marathon. I always like doing things as early as possible. The nice thing about running is that you can take it anywhere. So when I get very excited, I look at marathons that are taking place all over the world. But I haven’t yet been bold enough to do one outside of Canada.
Do you find that running is a good way for you to destress?
I don’t know if it’s de-stressing as such, but it’s great thinking time. On my runs, if I’m not too tired, I can literally think of anything. I can think about what I have to do that day, think about things that are bothering me, or think about future research ideas. It’s just my time to do whatever with and I think I find a lot of peace and reassurance in that.