Student - June 21, 2012

Singing the national anthem twice a day

Who: Nicky Verver, Forensic Sciences at VHL.
What: a five-month project internship in preparation for her graduate internship.
Where: Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand.
Why: ‘I am crazy about Asia, and Thailand is known to be a relatively safe country with friendly people.'

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On Mahidol University's website it said that Forensic Science had its own research department. I was really looking forward to being allowed to carry out a project independently in the DNA lab. With a particular DNA technique it is possible to quickly show the difference between the DNA of a human or an animal at the scene of the crime. That is important for deciding whether you want to investigate pieces of evidence more closely.
Thailand is a beautiful country, but many of the customs take a bit of getting used to. I was struck, for example, by how much respect students have for their teachers, whom they always address by their title. Students are also always neatly dressed and up until their Bachelor's degree they wear uniform. There is a lot of respect for the king too. You have to watch out that you don't step on a coin that's lying on the ground, because it is not respectful to touch the king's head, which is pictured on the coin, with your foot. The national anthem is sung morning and evening, and everyone stands still and joins in.
I really had to get used to eating three hot meals a day. The food is often very spicy and they use every part of an animal. In local restaurants it is very hard to order a meal without innards or blood. Luckily there were western products for sale, but they tasted different to the ones at home. Even so, I did not get terribly homesick. I talked to my family every weekend on Skype and my parents came to Thailand for two weeks to travel around with me.'

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