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Amanda Burmeister (University of North Carolina)

When I first signed up for an internship abroad program I never dreamed that it would change my life completely. It was my summer between completing my undergraduate studies and prior to starting my doctoral program in the fall. I got placed in a homestay in the Lower Hutt, and was warned about the Wellington winters which are windy and rainy. Even with what most would say was unfavourable weather, most days turned out to be beautiful.

Wellington has many eclectic shops and places to eat, making this city a happening place. Besides, who could beat the views that you can see both from the harbour and over the sea! I highly recommend getting out and hiking the Wellington hills. Furthermore, if you have a chance to explore more of New Zealand I highly recommend it. I have been to New Zealand four times in total, and try to explore a new place with each visit, and have yet to be disappointed.

Wellington itself wasn’t the only highlight of my visit. While at MRINZ I gained invaluable experience, and have made friendships with many people. When I arrived at MRINZ I was nervous, not only was I unfamiliar with clinical research, I was also thousands of kilometres away from home. Although my nervousness quickly dissipated after meeting the kind employees who made me feel like I belonged. During my internship, I learned about clinical research protocols, the standard of practices, Maori involvement in research, and enhanced skills by being pushed out of my comfort zone. I helped recruit bone fracture patients for a Periostin study, assisted with study visits, and prepared study materials and documents.

Following my 10-week internship in 2014, I boarded my plane to make the long journey back to the United States. Although I was technically going home, I wasn’t overjoyed to leave Wellington. Once home I started my doctoral studies in biology but kept thinking about MRINZ, clinical research, and the friendships I had made. It wasn’t long before I was talking with a few of the directors about the possibility of returning to complete another internship. Luckily for me, MRINZ was kind enough to have me back for another winter internship. What can I say, I love those windy days!

During my second internship, I began to appreciate the challenges and benefits of clinical research and looked forward to being able to contribute more to the research, as I helped develop a database to collect, organize, and analyze data for a lower limb immobilization study. This time when I boarded my plane to return to the US, I left a piece of my heart in Wellington and vowed to return. Therefore, I highly recommend you consider MRINZ.