International Students House
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Razan Abbara

I have a Bachelor’s in Pharmacy and a Master‘s in Microbiology, Haematology and Immunology. I worked as a Lecturer in Microbiology in Syria before coming to the UK to study for my PhD.

When I started working as a lecturer, I said, ‘I shouldn’t stop at this point. I should further my learning.’ I wanted to gain more knowledge and more experience in my field. The UK has such high-ranking universities and through my research, I came to know about Cara. When I first came to the UK it was overwhelming. I missed my family terribly. It also really struck me how people here live their lives naturally without the backdrop of conflict; without battles; without being in imminent danger. This shocked me at first and I spent three months adjusting to the idea that people can live so freely yet back home this is not the case. When you live with conflict, you begin to normalise things. But seeing the world outside of it, you come to realise that it is not normal at all. I pray for my country and that people back home will have the chance to live a better life.

When I first arrived at ISH, I was adamant that I needed to live elsewhere because ISH was so far from my university. But after a short time, I changed my mind because it is such a lovely place to be. I feel like I am here with family. It is such a supportive environment and has helped reduce the stress and pressure in my life. I don’t even have to worry about cooking. I can focus on being present as a student.

Group of students
I’ve found a community of friends from around the world at ISH

The PhD journey can be very lonely. Every day I go to the lab alone and conduct experiments, often without colleagues. But when I come home to the House, I’m with amazing, supportive people. I lived at ISH throughout the pandemic and the activities available here helped us so much during the lockdown. It was so helpful to be in this environment. I actually never experienced a feeling of isolation. Of course, there were restrictions and limits, but the programme that ISH organised for us really helped our mental well-being.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I am very optimistic. In 10 years, I hope to be continuing research into manipulating bacteria to reverse the effect of antibiotic resistance. I would love to become a professor at one of the prestigious UK universities. I am hoping to develop treatments that increase antibiotic sensitivity. If we do not control the use of and sensitivity to antibiotics, we will be left with untreatable infections and in a huge global health crisis. This work is so important.

If you have a dream to achieve something, you should always work for it.

My advice to young women wanting to follow a similar path is to dream big. If you have a dream to achieve something, you should always work for it. Stay excited about learning and do not put limits on yourself. It is so important that there are resources like the Cara/ ISH scholarship.

There are so many talented people that have dreams and just need the support to be able to fulfil their potential. It is so important to be able to help people to do this because they are then able to give back to society. There will always be a benefit to the world if we support talent and hard work with opportunity.

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