Inspirational Heathfield Alumni: Learning Cognitive Neuroscience Abroad in the UK

Nopparada Minchinda (Thorfun), 20, was head girl of the school whilst in year 11 here at Heathfield International School.  She was a leader and proactive learner who found that she could live far from home and learn a specific topic area of her interest – cognitive neuroscience of visual attention and working memory.

Before flying off to the UK, she was part of the great Heathfield memories.  Her favourite subjects were Biology, Geography, Chemistry and Physics.  She shared about her first field trip to Korat with her friends that, “I had a very good time with my best friends (who I am still in contact with), and I am very well known as the person who tried to get into the shower at 3am”.

Many pupils would know her as a person who supervised young ones in the school shop.  It was a rewarding experience having learned the value of leadership and what it meant to be part of the change. 

“I’d say that I gained a lot more understanding about the British education systems, which really helped me with settling into the UK for both my A-Levels and degree. My English was also improved,” she explained on how her Secondary pupil life at Heathfield has shaped her character for a higher education abroad. 

Now Nopparada is a Psychology with Cognitive Neuroscience student at the University of Leicester.

“I am particularly interested in the cognitive neuroscience of visual attention and working memory. I have found this field to be very fascinating as it aims to untangle the neural networks underlying human cognition,” Thorfun told about her passion in researching on a specific cognitive neuroscience that not a lot of people have talked about. 

She continued that,“At my University, there are also external speaker events run by the department, where you can learn more about research in topics that interest you. I have found these talks very informative and inspirational.”

Not only that Nopparada enjoyed listening on different topics, she also enjoyed giving a presentation for her Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) in the area of how biological changes as a result of psychological trauma affect cognition and behavior which turned to be one of her greatest achievements. 

After graduation, Nopparada plans to take a master’s degree that will lead her to do more research on the effects of neurodegeneration and ageing on visual cognition/working memory. After that, she is planning to do a PhD in a visual cognition area, which will satisfy her curiosity about the area and my dream of being an academic professional.

Here is some advice from Nopparada for those who dream to live and study in the United Kingdom:

1.     Only study what you are interested in, and not what you think others expect you to study. This will make applications a lot easier and your experience of Higher Education more enjoyable.

2.     Look for your area of interest in a university you are interested in. Before I apply to a university, I always go on the department website to see what kind of studies they are doing and what they published in the past. This will tell you whether you could do a project in your interested area. I don’t normally look at the location, lifestyle and reputation of a place, but look into those if they are important to you.

3.     Most importantly, do not be nervous about speaking English. The more you speak, the more fluent you will become (just because you are not fluent today does not mean that you won’t be able to speak at the level of a native speaker!). Also, learn more about the UK (history, culture, food, etc.). I particularly enjoyed the Black Country Living Museum.

Thank you Nopparada for sharing with us these great advices!