On the right track
Nazanin Rouhee is halfway through her master's degree in cell biology, and a long way from home. But not unnerved.
Your first year in Norway has passed – how was it?
- Very exciting; very new and very different from Teheran and Iran. Teheran is dry, Bergen is wet, but I like the change as it will give me more experience. People are much nicer than I had anticipated. Everyone said to me Norwegians were cold and unfriendly, but the reception was great – everyone was helpful and made me feel welcome. I live with students from a lot of different countries at Fantoft, so I’ve met a lot of interesting people just from staying there. Norwegian student culture is quite different from Iran, but really fascinating with all the students participating in events and parties during the first week, for example. Many people don’t know that we also have snowy mountains in Iran, so the winter is not as strange to me as people think. I didn’t bring my ski equipment so I didn’t go skiing this winter, but seeing the many hang gliders flying around the mountains in Bergen have made me want to try that instead!
First academic year: experiences?
- The main thing is that I’ve worked a lot in laboratories, and done a lot of the things in practice that I’d only learned from in theory before. Working in a research group with actual scientific problems has been a great change for me, which I have enjoyed a lot. It’s really exciting. Also, the other master students have been very including; apart from social gatherings in public places they’ve also invited me to their homes on occasion, which has been very good for getting to understand and experience the local culture here in Bergen and Norway. I’ve also learned some more generally applicable things, like perseverance and being optimistic. It’s really important not to give up when things are a bit hard.
What is your general impression of the programme of study?
- The courses are very good at focusing on what you’re supposed to work with in your thesis and your research group, as a student. When you start doing experiments and research in the lab, you need to know a lot of things and the starter courses are right on target for that. Perhaps some of them could have been organized a bit differently, but all in all they are very useful.
You’ve just started working on your thesis. How is the work progressing, and what do you write about?
- The progress of my writing goes a bit up and down, and there is a lot of work in the lab in between – it’s not a straightforward task, but that’s just what science is like. I think it will come into a more defined shape after a while. The preliminary work title is: “Targeting of survival protein synthesis in leukemic blast cells”, and the thesis is about the blood cancer cell line and effects of cell signaling, which induce growth arrest and death in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL).
Do you have any thoughts on life after the degree? Future plans?
- I want to continue with a PhD after I complete the master thesis, if possible. I’m really the type to do this kind of work, and I’d like to be a professional scientist. I don’t know whether it will be in Norway, Iran or another place though, I’ll have to take things as they come.
Anything you’d like to say to other international students who are considering the Master’s Programme in Medical Biology at UiB?
- Well, once again I’d like to emphasize the huge advantage and great experience of working in labs with real research groups, doing real science. It’s really stimulating to see theories coming into real life through experiments, tests and lab work. As a Master’s student here, you actually get to do it - and that’s highly recommended!
Read more about the Master's Programme in Medical Biology.