“Hi my name in Caitlin and I am from Australia”
If you are a recent LIYSF Alumni, you will know the chuckle that would come after that statement. A perplexed lecturer would often be very confused about how on earth they had chosen three consecutive Aussies from totally different areas of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS). I still wonder how exactly scenarios like this happened, I put it down to the infectiously high energy we were all exposed to at the National Youth Science Forum. We took great pride in introducing the entire Beitside dining hall to Vegemite, everyone at Stonehenge to milo, and everyone at Cambridge to Tim tams. But that’s enough about Australians.
LIYSF is an experience like nothing you will ever be able to describe. It’s like being immersed in this magical world, where nothing is impossible, the youth have a strong voice, and everyone is thirsty for knowledge. You are exposed to all sorts of areas of science and groundbreaking research, including those that you may not be aware of. For me, some of those areas included the fields of medical physics and material sciences, while I learnt about groundbreaking research in treating blood cancer with genetic editing tools, identifying early onset Alzheimer, and learning about particle physics research.
While I loved hearing from the world class lecturers, I found the most inspiring session was the Bazaar presentation night. There were over 150 people presenting their own research, and seeing the topics that young people from around the world are completing made me extremely hopeful for the future. I have no doubt that I was surrounded by the future leaders of science. I was also lucky enough to present some of my own research, and then be chosen as one of ten people to present at the Famelab presentation night. Getting to stand up and present a 3 minute speech to every single person and staff on LIYSF was intimidating and humbling to say the least, and the mentoring and support that we got to participate is something that I will never forget.
Me presenting my research!
Beyond science, I believe the core of what makes LIYSF so special is the social and cultural aspects. You constantly had opportunities to reach out to other participants and form strong friendships. From Barcelona to Malta, Luxembourg to nearby New Zealanders, I made close friends from all around the world, with many of whom I am still in contact with nearly every day, even a year later! These bonds are stronger than you would ever think considering I only got to know people over two weeks, but I can 100% say that these will be lifelong friends. From walking to Tesco late at night to get ice cream, bike riding through Hyde park, rides on the hot tube, lunchtime circles (or naps) on the lawn near Beitside, and all the times we would simply by laughing and singing, these are some of my fondest memories from London.
Some of the Aussies all dressed up for the International Cabaret (I am in the blue lifeguard top)
Other events such as the traditions of home evening allowed me to truly gain an understanding into other cultures as people from all around the world performed. From amazing dancing from Bolivia, Greece, and China, to the singers India, or the UAE who provided an experience of everything from home, I gained insight into cultures and places I never really knew about previously. To then compete Hall vs Hall at the LIYSF Olympics brought out everyone’s fighting spirit, with all the Australians on team Beitside, and eager to win. Despite our best efforts, shouting, screaming, chanting, and sprinting we lost narrowly to MGM, however we feel we were absolutely robbed! The true winner is hotly contested and will definitely go down as one of the most controversial outcomes of LIYSF 2019.
Beitside at the end of the LIYSF olympics (the true winners…)
When I look back on LIYSF, I am forever grateful and proud to have been able to represent Australia and gain an international family from all corners of the world. If you haven’t attended, you won’t quite be able to understand the feeling of homesickness that you experience when you return home. Homesickness for the international family and community that LIYSF provides. But despite this, I can truly say that I grew so much as a person over two short weeks and that I will carry the friendships and lessons I learnt in London with me for the rest of my life.
Forever and ever will I be a proud LIYSF 2019 Alumni