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Intern Abroad

My experiences in Trondheim, Norway

17. Juni 2022 | von
  • Trondheim, Norway
  • Business Administration and Engineering Materials and Process Engineering, M. Sc.
  • 01.04.2022 – 31.05.2022

My experiences:

I am solely responsible for the content of this report.

During my master thesis which I am writing in collaboration with the NTNU in Trondheim and RWTH in Aachen I spent two months in Trondheim.

Preparation

Since I was already in Trondheim the semester before as an exchange student, I was quite familiar with the city, university as well as with the application procedure. During my exchange semester I attended the course MFA I (Material Flow Analysis) with Prof. Müller and decided to write the upcoming master thesis together with him and the RWTH.

After gathering some information, the application was very easy and quick. The next step was then the application/registration at the NTNU to get the student rights etc. and to be also able to apply for student accommodation through SIT (the organisation which provide the accommodations and other things in Trondheim). I received the confirmation of both in time so I could plan all the rest.

© Moritz Langhorst

Office routine

During the two months I felt very welcome at the department and was able to work in the study room with all the other students writing their master thesis. This was a good way to get to know them and to see on which topics the other students and researchers in the group are working. My weekly meetings with my supervisors could now also take place in person, which was very helpful for the working progress. I could also participate in the regular group meetings of the research group where the researchers of the group are presenting their work.

Leisure

Because I still knew some people from my exchange semester, it was very easy to find a lot of activities for the time besides the thesis. On weekends we went on a lot of cabin trips in the surrounding area, spent evenings on the fjord to watch the sunset, went bouldering or in bars. Trondheim has especially for students a lot to offer. A very nice coincidence was that the 17th of May, which is the national holiday in Norway, was in my time in Trondheim. This was a perfect opportunity to get to know the Norwegian culture, starting with a brunch and parades in the city.

© Moritz Langhorst

© Moritz Langhorst

 

A special experience in Cyprus

19. Mai 2022 | von
  • Larnaca & Nicosia, Cyprus
  • Medicine
  • 02.03.-01.05.2022

 

Good food, friendly people, and lots of sun! That’s the best description I can give for this beautiful island! The people here are extremely friendly and helpful. It is easy to communicate since most of them can speak English which I think is really important for tourists and exchange students. The application for the internship can be made through the website of the University of Cyprus or via email and is a very simple procedure. Just be sure to check out the deadlines and be fast because there are only few places, and they are filled quickly!

Flight tickets can be expensive but there is a direct flight from Cologne to Paphos with good deals. If you book them in advance, you could be lucky! There is another airport in Larnaca where other airlines like Aegean, Eurowings, Lufthansa, Austrian airlines and many more operate. Generally, there are a lot of options especially if you do your research on time.

Nicosia is the capital of Cyprus and where the University and most of the students are. I would therefore recommend that you find a place to stay there. It is much cheaper if you have a roommate, otherwise rent is around 500 euro. Airbnb is also a good option if you are staying just for a couple of months. A telephone number is really easy to acquire. You just go to a nearby kiosk, buy a number and then top it up! One thing I hated about Cyprus is transportation. There are very few bus lines but at least they are on time. You can also get a taxi but that is of course more expensive. To be fair though, Cyprus is a small island, and all the important places are nearby, so you could always rent a bike or a scooter, which is also fun!

The University itself lacks a bit in organization but if you are motivated you will find your way and can learn a lot! It sometimes takes a while for the staff responsible for Erasmus students to answer to your emails but do not hesitate to call them; they are very friendly and helpful. Additionally, a mentor will be assigned to you, with whom you can set goals and discuss your progress. The students are also friendly and helpful if you have any trouble with classes or administrative work.

In Germany the last year of medicine is a practical year, in which you can visit various subjects and hospitals to gain more practical experience. It is divided into three parts of four months. Therefore I chose to do the first half of the second part in Cyprus, during spring time when the weather is just perfect- not too cold, not too hot. My day usually started around 8:00 in the morning. We visited the patients and reported their progress back to the attendings. During the day I was free to decide, whether I wanted to stay in the ward or go to the policlinic. The doctors were all extremely nice and ready to answer all my questions. The working environment was very friendly and calm. Mondays through Wednesdays we had lessons with a doctor, which was good revision for me. Around 13:00 I was relieved of my duties, so I had the rest of the day off for fun activities!

Cyprus as you know has great weather so you can undertake lots of activities outdoors, like football, skateboarding, watersports, swimming, hiking, minigolf etc. There are lots of parks for picnics or an afternoon walk with some friends. And for those who prefer staying inside the island will not disappoint you!

As I’ve mentioned before the food is amazing! You will find all sorts of cuisines around the island! You can enjoy the best brunch at “Edem’s Yard”, the most delicious pasta at “Rokoko”, the juiciest burgers at “San Pedro”, great sushi at “Umami Restaurant” and the best traditional meze at “Tamblios Tavern”! On top of that, the nightlife will not disappoint you! Mackenzy Beach is a street full of bars by the beach. They organize lots of different events where you can dance to great music and enjoy all kinds of cocktails throughout the year, not just during the summer months! Mackenzy Beach is in Larnaca, which is only 30 minutes away form Nicosia. There is also the famous Ayia Napa with all the clubs and the wild nightlife for all those who enjoy bar crawling and different types of music.

All in all, it was truly an amazing experience! Not only did I make friends, I also learned to appreciate the country more. I would choose Cyprus again at any time and recommend it. The memories I have made along with the knowledge I have gained were totally worth it! If you ever have the chance to complete a semester abroad, you should definitely take it!

My research stay in Oslo

21. April 2022 | von
  • Norway, Oslo
  • Chemistry M.Sc.
  • 12.09.21-12.03.2022

 

Over the course of my studies, played with the idea of doing an exchange, though, for various reasons, I never went through with it. With the end of my master’s degree approaching, I decided to make use of this last chance and to complete my master thesis during a research stay at a university in another country. The planning for this started in May 2021, at the height of the second COVID wave. This narrowed my choice of countries down to all of Scandinavia, since the situation there was somewhat calm, though at this point the borders were still closed, and it wasn’t clear when they would open again. Nonetheless, I started planning.

After looking at all the major universities in Scandinavia, I found that UiO (Universitetet i Oslo) and UiB (Universitetet i Bergen) did interesting research that aligned well with my qualifications, but also with skills that I still wanted to acquire or improve. After contacting a professor at each university by e‑mail, Prof. Tilset from UiO was able to accommodate me for an interesting project in the desired timeframe.

At first, I tried to find housing privately on finn.no (Norway’s equivalent to eBay), but as a foreigner, a male, and someone staying for a mere few months, it is very difficult to find a place in shared accommodation. Thankfully, the Department of Chemistry offered to apply for researcher housing for me. Most of the student housing in Oslo is run by SiO (Studentsamskipnaden i Oslo og Akershus), a student welfare organization. Their housing is well-maintained and somewhat modern, though as a researcher you pay 20% more rent than students. Electricity, water, and internet access are included in this. This is still cheaper than the very expensive private housing in Oslo. I paid 4800 NOK in rent for a room with a shared kitchen (6 people), which is about 480 €. Having to pay more as a researcher was a recurring theme for my stay in Oslo, since I mostly didn’t get student discounts. As another bonus, you get housed with other students of Oslo’s universities, so you have ample opportunities to make friends. On the day of your arrival, it might make sense to make use of the hourly Ikea shuttles, which take people from the city centre to one of two Ikea markets (free of charge). This lets you buy the necessities for your room/apartment conveniently. The location and departure schedule can be found on Google Maps.

When staying in Norway for more than 9 weeks, it is mandatory to register with the police, where (if you’re an Erasmus intern as opposed to an Erasmus student) you have to document that you have enough money to support yourself (e.g. savings, the equivalent of 180.000 NOK per year, or less if you’re staying for a shorter time), a valid national identity card/passport and private health insurance. I did not know of the latter, but the worker at the police was kind enough to register

© Heiko Schiefer

me as a student when I showed her the signed agreement of the three parties and proof that I received funding from Erasmus (in my case a bank statement).

 

Oslo has good public transportation (Metro, Tram, Busses, and Boats), but the normal monthly ticket (800 NOK) unfortunately is constrained to the city limits, which nonetheless should cover most of your trips. Extensions can be bought in the public transportation company’s app, Ruter.

Since you will be paying in NOK, it also makes sense to open an account with a bank that charges no fees for paying in foreign currency, e.g., DKB. Credit cards are universally accepted, so there is little reason to carry cash.

© Heiko Schiefer

For leisure activities, the Norwegians are generally very fond of the outdoors, so popular activities are ice skating, skiing, or hiking, sometimes combined with a picknick. Outdoor equipment can be borrowed free of charge at one of the many Bua’s (a non-profit organization) around Oslo. During the winter, many people sit around campfires around lake Songsvann or atop the Vettakollen mountain. These are also nice places to try and get a glimpse of the northern lights. The Norwegian trekking association (DNT) organizes trips (e.g. mushroom picking or hiking) and rents out cabins for cheap. If going out to eat is more your thing, Oslo Street Food is worth recommending. It’s a cozy food court with lots of selection, but don’t expect to be served large portions.

Here it should be mentioned that the selection of vegetarian food is more limited in Norway than in Germany, and vegan food even more so. If you’re a big partygoer, beware: Alcoholic beverages are very expensive in Norway, and only sold until 8 pm. Anything over 4.7% is only sold in the state-run Vinmonopolet shops. If you’re more culturally inclined Oslo’s many museums might be of interest.

© Heiko Schiefer

Because I did not need to attend any courses, I could focus solely on my research and enjoyed lots of autonomy. The university is generally well equipped. I had my own lab bench and fume hood in a large lab with 5 other researchers (Bachelor/master students, PhDs, and a post-doc), as well as a desk in a shared office. Approximately half of the researchers were Norwegian, the other half from all over Europe. The direction and progress of my research was evaluated in weekly talks with my supervising Professor. In addition to that, there were weekly group meetings and biweekly section meetings, were people would present their research and the rest would give feedback/ask questions. The working climate was very pleasant, and I spent hours talking to fellow researchers about their or my research.

© Heiko Schiefer

In conclusion, my time in Oslo was a great experience, both professionally and personally. I got to do research abroad, acquired new skills, and refined those I already had. I met lots of new people and made friends and memories. While the cost of living is certainly high in Oslo and coming to Norway as an intern is associated with some challenges, the experience was certainly worth it.

Creating countless memories in Dublin, Ireland

31. März 2022 | von
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, PhD
  • 01.09.20221 – 28.02.2022

 

Preparation/Internship Search:

Since my early bachelor’s days, the prospect of studying abroad has been tempting and fascinating to me. However, during my undergraduate, I couldn’t find the right time to study abroad. With the start of my PhD at RWTH Aachen University, I approached my professor with the idea of a research visit. He liked the idea and initially suggested a research visit in the latter half of 2020. With the COVID-19 pandemic eventually bringing everything to a stand-still, we postponed further preparation to early 2021. Despite the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we went on with my professor getting in touch with a colleague of his at University College Dublin who works on similar topics as my chair back at RWTH Aachen University. The professor at University College Dublin was quickly convinced of such a research visit, mutually benefiting both institutions with the prospect of closer collaboration and exchange in the future. The general timeline was set from this point in time, and we entered the second stage of planning my visit. Luckily my stay as a visiting researcher was independent of any undergraduate curricular or requirements (e.g., proof of English, certain average GPA, etc.). Thus, the only thing that University College Dublin required was to fill out one form to register as a visiting researcher officially and have these documents signed by my professor. As such, any kind of tuition fees, which are common to be paid at Irish universities, were waived. At RWTH Aachen University, a little bit more preparation was involved. Firstly, we had to officially apply for a leave from my duties as a scientific assistant. Secondly, we contacted the International Office and prepared all documents for the ERASMUS+ Internship application. Closer to the start of the research visit, I was eventually able to register myself with University College Dublin. The process itself was very smooth and didn’t take much time.

Apartment search in Dublin:

Being used to the “cheap” cost of living in Germany, searching for apartments in Dublin might come as a shock. The average price for renting is much higher than in Germany (typically two to three times higher for a shared living), with landlords typically renting for one year or more. In the case of private dorms renting is based on a trimester basis (meaning only for four or eight months). Hence, finding a cheap place for just half a year is quite challenging. Despite University College Dublin offering a housing program, the prices rank on the same level as renting from private landlords/companies. Furthermore, due to my somewhat late application, I could not get a place in the housing program at University College Dublin. Eventually, I settled with a mixed approach, living in an expensive private dorm for the first four months in the city center before moving in with a few colleagues for the last two months close to University College Dublin. Usually, it is required to pay the whole renting sum (>several thousand) in a student dorm before moving in as monthly payment rates are only offered for long-term rents.

Commuting/Travelling in or around Dublin:

© Alexander Meyer

Transportation in and around Dublin is mainly limited to bus service only. There exist two metro lines called the Luas, respectively the green and the red line serving some parts of the city. Nonetheless, typically buses are the go-to option. To commute to University College Dublin, only buses are available with frequent schedules along the major routes. Especially during the morning and the evening, delays and disruptions in the rush hours are to be expected as most traffic is funneled through the highly congested city center. The Google Maps app proved to be the most reliable for accurate prediction of bus arrival times. Worth mentioning is the leap card used for all transportation in Ireland, as typically only a leap card is accepted as a form of payment. These can be bought at many shops and charged via NFC using an app on your smartphone. Additionally, students are entitled to get a Student Leap Card, offering lower fares for daily commuting. Nonetheless, even the reduced student fares for transportation/commuting to and from university/somewhere are much higher than in Germany. Besides public transport, many taxis exist that can be conveniently called and paid using the FreeNow app. Typically, taxis can be called via the app in less than five minutes, even outside the city center. Also, taxi rates are fixed and much lower compared to Germany, making it a favorable option, especially late at night. However, during the closing hours of bars and pubs during the weekend, getting a taxi can be tricky with the FreeNow app malfunctioning or taxi drivers picking up people on the street directly without relying on the app.

Daily Life:

Daily life in Dublin is not much different from any major city in Germany. Shopping for groceries/daily necessities is very convenient with various supermarkets/local shops such as Lidl, Aldi, Tesco, SuperValu, Centra, or Spar, to name a few, to be found everywhere in Dublin. Prices are not much different from Germany and can be generally categorized on the same level. Only ordering products online might take more days for delivery as most are brought in via the United Kingdom or France. Also, ordering food from all cuisines is very convenient, with a large variety to choose from with prices typically lower than dining in restaurants.

Health Insurance/Telephone/Banking:

My health insurance covered me during my visit at no extra cost. With the newly introduced regulations on roaming charges for mobile carriers by the European Union, I simply continued using my existing contract. However, with extra costs imposed on regular phone calls, I generally placed calls via Whatsapp or FaceTime to avoid being charged extra. Finally, I also continued using my bank account at no extra charges for banking. Contrary to Germany, a debit/visa card is typically accepted, so there is no need to carry cash in Ireland. To transfer money between friends, generally, Revolut or Paypal are the preferred go-to-apps.

Research:

During early talks with my professor/supervisor at University College Dublin, we had only agreed on a general outline for the research visit. Upon starting my research here at University College Dublin, I was offered various opportunities to work on exciting projects within the scope of the initial agreement. As there was no mandatory coursework to complete, I could solely focus on research, enjoying a high degree of autonomy and freedom. Whereas my work was primarily focused on simulation and developing models, now and then, measurements in the lab needed to be conducted. Also, publication and revision of the latest results were a significant part of my work, where I could benefit from the extensive knowledge existing in the group already. To keep in touch with my supervisors, there was a group meeting held every week in which the latest results/news about the chair and each PhD’s work were discussed, and a short report was submitted to the professor. Additional meetings were held whenever necessary. At University College Dublin, I had my own cubicle space, sharing a large office with all my fellow PhDs in the same group. There I was provided with all the resources required to conduct my research. Additionally, due to the open workspace culture, it was straightforward to get in touch with my colleagues and make new friends at work. With PhDs joining from across the globe, the group was very international, with people of various backgrounds, cultures, and an open-minded orientation. Consequently, besides working together on inspiring projects, we bonded over various social events on the weekends.

Leisure in Dublin:

With some restrictions on pubs and restaurants eased at the beginning of my stay, I got a chance to enjoy Dublin’s extensive pub and restaurant culture. Wherever you wander in Dublin, one can be sure to find a cozy place offering a pint of Guinness or some proper, triple-distilled Irish whiskey and some Irish band playing traditional music in the background. Generally, pubs and bars close around 2 am to 3 am, so somewhat earlier compared to Germany with bookings for large groups required for most places partly due to the COVID-19 restrictions that were in place. Nonetheless, the nightlife in Dublin is truly unique, where countless memories have been made. Besides the high congestion of pubs, bars, and restaurants, Dublin offers many places to visit. Among these, the most touristic ones are the Guinness Store House, telling you the origin story of Ireland’s most famous beer while enjoying an incredible view across Dublin in the rooftop bar. Or the many distilleries that offer tours and tastings such as the Teeling, Jameson, or Roe & Co distillery. Also, from a cultural point of view, Dublin has many theaters, museums, or galleries to offer. Being the capital of the Republic of Ireland, also many government buildings can be found throughout the city.

Exploring Ireland:

© Alexander Meyer

Besides working on my research during the weekdays, I tried to travel across Ireland/Dublin as much as possible. These travels were attainable despite the ongoing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which were eventually lifted entirely to the end of my research visit. During these trips, I encountered a beautiful country with very friendly people along the way. Around Dublin, countless opportunities for hikes exist, which can be easily reached using public transport. Various trips lead me to Howth, Bull Island, or Phoenix Park in the north of Dublin or Dun Laoghaire, Killiney, Bray, or Greystones in the south of Dublin. All beautiful places which can be easily explored during on a day trip accompanied by many lovely restaurants and cafés at every spot. The most beautiful spot I encountered during my travels was the hike in the Glendalough Mountains in Dublin’s neighboring Wicklow County. Located in a natural reserve, one can truly experience and appreciate Ireland’s nature. Furthermore, trips to, e.g., Galway, Limerick, or Cork are highly recommended and can be easily reached using Irish Rail.

Conclusion:

Summing up, I genuinely enjoyed my time in Ireland. While working on exciting projects during the weekdays, the weekends were left for many exciting activities, and I enjoyed plenty of nights wandering Dublin’s nightlife with friends. Throughout my stay, I have made many new friends from across the globe, both at work and in my student dorm. Despite the high cost of rents, I would highly recommend staying at shared living at one of the plenty dorms, at least at the beginning, simply to meet many new people from all over the world. New friendships have been made, which I hope will last a lifetime. The Irish are very friendly people surrounded by a beautiful landscape that invites for countless hikes and trips in the greater Dublin area or beyond.

My internship in the hospital Bolzano, Italy

17. März 2022 | von
  • Bolzano, Italy
  • Medicine, Diploma
  • 15.11.2021 – 06.03.2022

 

In Germany the last year of medicine is a practical year, in which you can visit various subjects and hospitals to gain more practical experience. It is divided into three times four months stays each. For my first two month of this practical year, I chose the hospital Bolzano in South Tyrol, Italy. Since I knew this region already from previous holidays, I thought it would be a nice change after the big exam I had in October.

Application

The application process was very easy via email. You can find all information’s you need on the website of the hospital of Bolzano. Just keep in mind to do it one year ahead of the beginning of the internship. For all other organisational matters (contracts, insurance, etc) a staff member, responsible for us students, helped us continuously. She also supported us regarding application and apartment- hunting.

Apartment

Finding a flat was much more difficult than applying for the internship, as the housing market in Bolzano is very scarce and overpriced.  Nevertheless, many students live here, and a solution can always be found. I can recommend to look in:

  • Facebook groups ( Bolzano Unibacheca Universitari Affitti / Affitto Camera or Immobilienbörse Bozen Umgebung – Wohnungen PRIVAT (ver)mieten & (ver)kaufen)
  • or the site: wg-gesucht.de
  • and also on the university site: http://accommodationunibz.blogspot.com/.

I found a nice room in the city center in a shared flat with 5 people, which was really nice to connect immediately. Look for a room next to the city centre, since the outside areas are not that nice in general.

Transport

Bolzano is not very big, so you can easily explore the city by walking. However, the hospital was located a little outside town, so I decided to get a second hand bike. Bolzano is a very bike-friendly city. Dedicated bike lanes make it very pleasant to ride and you feel very safe. Some friends of mine preferred to go by bus and bought a Südtirol-Abo Plus card for 150 Euros, which you can also use as train ticket to Trient or cable cars of the mountains. To discover the surroundings of the city, a car is already an advantage, as you are usually much faster than by bus and can thus get to all the places. When we went skiing, we car-pooled and could go straight to the slopes with our skis in the car. It’s simply easier to move around with a car here. Unfortunately, Bolzano has no car sharing, but a bike sharing in the summer months.

Traineeship

My traineeship began in the middle of November 2021. In the Hospital we usually started at 7.30am with the morning reunion. We discussed the patients and the program for the day. After that we all went to have a coffee break together :D.  During the day I was free to decide, whether I wanted to go into the surgery room or in the policlinic. The doctors were all extremely nice and polite. The working environment was very friendly and calm. We should at least stay for 6 hours to also get a free lunch, but it was also no problem if you had to leave earlier or could not come at a certain day. Lunch was rich of different options and there were always three courses—yuuummmy! After a while I definitely felt included in the team and could also relieve the doctors of work. It’s definetly an advantage to speak Italian as well as German. In South Tyrol they speak both German and Italian, but Bolzano is a little more Italian, therefore the working language in the hospital is also predominantly Italian. In the outlying areas of Bolzano people prefer to speak German. Most people however are bilingual, so you can easily get around.

Free time

© Chiara Löffler

After work there are a lot of options to spend your free time. The region here is very nice for outdoor activities. The mountains (Dolomites) are incredibly beautiful and in summer you can go hiking, climbing, biking etc and in winter it’s perfect for skiing or Snow hiking.

Since I was there in winter, I mostly went skiing. Obereggen, Seiser Almand Carezza are skiing areas that are approximately half an hour by car away from the city and have very nice slopes. You can also rent a sledge or just go hiking in the snow. You get a reduction on the skipass if you show your clinic employee card.

In March it got warmer and we were able to do some via ferrata and hikes in the surroundings (Eppan, Ritten, Jenesien). On the weekends we also did some city trips to Bologna, Venice, Milan, Verona and Lage Garda, which are all less than 2 hours by car. So, it is perfect to explore the North of Italy.

If you like to stay in town, you can drink coffee or have an Aperitivo (Aperol usually 3,5€) with friends. Expenses are quite cheap for drinking or eating and food here is really good. The weather is also amazing. Here some of my favourite food and drink stops: Bar Osteriada Picchio (book in advance), Al cantuccio (nice pizza), il Corso (nice pizza), Nussbaumer (perfect with parents), Exil Lounge (coffee place). Also I can recommend going to the cinema Film Club Bolzano, they often play movies in original language and the theatre Carambolage, who does most of their performances in German.

© Chiara Löffler

Bulgaria – a hidden gem for internships

15. Februar 2022 | von
  • Stara Zagora, Bulgaria
  • Molecular and Applied Biotechnology M.Sc.
  • 04.10.2021-31.12.2021

Finding an internship position

Students from abroad are generally very welcome in Bulgarian companies. Therefore, looking for a position is not a hard task, however, one should make research about companies in the desired area. Then, a direct contact to the company is recommended and not relying on jobsites such as Jobs.bg. The idealcandidate.bg is also focused on showing internship positions from the biggest companies. In my case, things happened really fast – in a matter of a month from obtaining first contact to negotiating the conditions.

Preparation

In most cases, companies have specific requirements about documents, which could differ. However, what you need is a medical insurance and nothing else if you stay for less than 3 months and come from the EU. German insurance companies provide the European Health Insurance Card, which is tricky since not every hospital works with it. Lots of Bulgarian companies provide additional private health insurance for their employees which is completely enough, and one should ask about it in advance. Bank account is not necessary, and phone contracts are not needed since you can use a German number up to three months in the EU. However, I recommend making a short term voucher contract since it is always easier to communicate with locals.

One should always ask about specific medical examinations, since companies are obliged by law to ask for specific ones before starting. I needed to spend two days visiting different doctors.

Finding a place to stay

It is a hard task since most of the companies would not offer an apartment for a short period only. However, websites as Booking.com or AirBnB provide cheap places and a huge variety of locations. As everywhere, in big cities such as Sofia, Plovdiv or Varna, foreign students are not an exemption. Therefore, you can always find Facebook groups with useful tips or apartment offers, but one should always be aware of fraud.

Transportation and free time

In big cities public transport is often okay, but with a personal car things are much easier everywhere. If you need to travel to work, it is often cheaper to choose a place in proximity to work and go by foot.

© Stanislav Yordanov

© Stanislav Yordanov

Bulgaria has an amazing variety of natural and historical objects and I used to spend almost every weekend with a good weather travelling. Sofia is much more different than smaller cities offering almost everything and can be compared with cities like Cologne when considering free time activities.

One-day or weekend trips can be done in every direction. I would recommend the Rila, Stara Planina and Rhodope mountains, as well as Plovdiv – considered the oldest city in Europe. For summer internships, Black Sea is a must considering the variety of resorts – from small hippy campings to the Ibiza-like Sunny Beach.

© Stanislav Yordanov

© Stanislav Yordanov

 

Advices

Bulgaria is a hidden gem in finding an internship. However, I recommend choosing a big international company in a big city when looking for an internship. As an intern, you would have the same rights as a regular worker and get almost equal pay (if negotiated so). You could also expect to get fast personal tasks and get a very direct feedback. One should also always demand regular contracts in his/her language. If possible, ask for a mentor or a buddy during the stay, with good English skills such as another company’s employee. That could be very useful when problems arise and ensures a smooth transition and start in the company. I also recommend a Facebook account, since locals use mostly Messenger or Viber for communication while WhatsApp is rarely used.

Those approx. three months were very different and dynamic period and a back-to-the-roots experience for me which showed me a future career path and let me learn a lot. I am very thankful to Erasmus+ financing it and making this experience possible.

My internship abroad in Barcelona

21. Dezember 2021 | von

Preparation

Preparation includes a few things such as funding opportunities from the university, whether you’d like to get the internship recognized (as a compulsory internship), finding an internship, finding accommodation, insurance. In general, it helped me to list everything and then decide which processes take the longest, such as documents from the university, because they’ll have to be signed by different parties, and then decide which things will have to be done first.

Finding an internship

When looking for an internship, I can recommend LinkedIn, as many offers are listed there clearly, or simply researching on the internet. In Spain, many things happen very quickly, so that there are often only two weeks between the application process and the first day of work. However, this depends on the size of the company.

Finding a flat

I can recommend spotahome for finding a flat. I found my flat here and was very satisfied. It is an agency that provides a lot of clear information about the flats, as well as video tours of almost all flats. In addition, if you don’t find everything as shown in the pictures, you can stay in a hotel at the agency’s expense until you find a new apartment.

©Hanna Johannsen

This is very important, as there is a lot of fraud in Spain regarding flats. For this, you pay a fee of about 250€ for booking the flat via the website. If you are on site, you can look for flats on Idealista, for example, and drop by the flat and save the agency fee. One difference I noticed here is that you often don’t know who your flatmates are. In Germany, there are always a lot of “flatmates”-castings, whereas in Spain you often only talk to the agent/ landlord and then have to decide whether you want to move in.

Insurance

As far as insurance is concerned, I contacted my own insurance company in Germany, as they often offer discounted additional offers for insurance abroad. In my case, it was the “Envivas” insurance through TK. In Spain, you are generally insured with public doctors/hospitals via your normal insurance card, which is also the so-called „European Health Insurance Card“. However, both my friends and I have not had very good experiences with this and would therefore recommend taking such additional insurance anyway. This way you can go to all doctors and will only have to submit the bill to the insurance company for reimbursement afterwards. In Spain, I noticed a huge difference in services between public institutions and private doctors.

Formalities on site

Once you arrive in Spain, you have to take care of „El Padronimiento“ and the „NIE“ number. „El Padronimiento“ is the registration in Spain and the „NIE“ is the foreigner identification number. The NIE number gives you many advantages regarding public transport systems and makes things easier. For both things you have to make an appointment online. This is possible for the registration, but impossible for the NIE number. Regarding the NIE number, there are now a lot of agencies that have made this a business, which you unfortunately have to submit to sooner or later, because it is almost impossible to get an appointment here. In my particular case, I got a number from a guy through friends of friends. I had to send him my passport number and a few days later pick up the document which is required for the appointment in some shop and pay 40€ in cash. Sounds strange looking back, but you have little choice and almost everyone does it this way. In some cases, the company helps you with the NIE number. This is a good thing to ask for in the interview. Once you get the appointment you have to be very careful to have all the documents exactly as requested, otherwise you will be send home very quickly.

Actually, registration and the NIE number have to be done at the beginning, but I know some people who didn’t take care of it at all or only much later. For a short stay, I would consider it, as the effort is very high.

I would definitely recommend sorting this out before your stay abroad. Firstly, for the documents, which have to be printed out and complete, and secondly, it is sometimes possible to apply for the NIE number at the Spanish embassies in Germany. This makes the process much easier.

Means of transport

©Hanna Johannsen

The main way to get around Barcelona is by metro. The metro system is very good, cheap and efficient. I always bought a 10-trip ticket, which costs about €11 (as of 2021). With this ticket you can also use the bus. For a longer stay, I would recommend the three-month ticket, which costs 80€ (as of 2021) and is therefore very worthwhile. However, you need the NIE number for this. You also need the NIE number to register for the bicycle system in Barcelona.

Here you pay 50€ (as of 2021) for a whole year and can always ride your bike for free for the first half hour. E-bikes are also available at the bike stations scattered around the city. Everything is very cheap. Personally, I also really liked riding a scooter – there are apps like „YEGO“ or „Seat Mo“ that make it super easy to rent a scooter and ride it around the city.

I really enjoyed it and had no problems with the traffic in Barcelona. With a normal B license you can drive a 50cc scooter and if you have had your license for three years you can even drive a 150cc scooter in Spain.

 

Everyday life/ free time

©Hanna Johannsen

The life in Barcelona is simply amazing.

 

There are so many things to do and something for everyone. The mountains are close by for cycling or hiking with unbelievably beautiful views. The beach and the sea are also close by.

The restaurant and nightlife culture gives the city such a nice atmosphere. I personally took dance lessons in Barcelona because there are also many good dance schools there.

In general, you were always in a good mood in Barcelona because the weather is so good, the architecture is so beautiful, and the city is so vivid. There is something exciting on every corner.

As for trips, I can recommend Montserrat, Mont-Rebei or Sitges.

©Hanna Johannsen

The train system in Catalonia was very cheap and efficient. You can travel very well to cities further away for little money and thus explore the Barcelona area very well.

Advices

In general, I can only recommend requesting a reasonable contract for the internship. The rights as an employee/intern are far away from those in Germany. The internship contract is the only safety you’ll have and extremely important. Even if there may not be many internship alternatives or the boss is hesitant about it. A clear contract is very important.

Even if the department or the supervisor does not offer it, always ask for a feedback-talk. This can prevent misunderstandings and helps a lot to develop and learn from the internship.

Otherwise, I find that a lot of things develop naturally, with flatmates, friends or finding one’s interests in a new city. Here, I’ve learned to not want everything at once and to stress out if it’s not the case. Everything has its time and will work out.

For me, it was such a great experience, and I would go to Barcelona again any time and can also imagine moving there later.

 

Wien – eine außerordentlich lebenswerte Stadt

19. November 2021 | von
  • Wien, Österreich
  • Wirtschaftsingenieurwesen FR Maschinenbau
  • 12.07.21-17.09.21

Ich wollte nach meinem Bachelor unbedingt noch praktische Erfahrung im Kontext eines Praktikums sammeln. Das Unternehmen, für das ich mich letztlich entschied (Boston Consulting Group) gab mir die Möglichkeit mich zwischen verschiedenen Büros innerhalb Deutschlands, aber auch in Wien, als meinen Praktikums-Standort zu entscheiden. Letztlich ist mir die Entscheidung nicht sehr schwer gefallen. Nach einer durch Covid bedingten recht unaufregende Zeit, wollte ich möglichst neue Erfahrung sammeln und entschied mich daher für das Office, von dem ich mir am meisten Abwechslung versprach – Wien. Soviel vorweg, die Entscheidung habe ich nie bereut! Die Wohnungssuche in Wien ist sehr viel entspannter als man es aus deutschen Großstädten kennt und dazu auch noch bezahlbar – insbesondere im Sommer. ich empfehle dazu die Suche über das Portal WG- Gesucht. Bei mir war es sogar so simpel, dass ich ein Inserat über meine Wohnungssuche einstellen konnte und die WGs mich anschrieben. Ich würde zukünftigen Outgoings empfehlen ein Haus zu suchen, in dem möglichst viele Internationale Studierende leben, da man hier aus meiner Erfahrung am leichtesten Kontakte knüpfen kann. Außer die Anreise musste ich eigentlich nicht viel mehr planen.

Wien ist eine außerordentlich lebenswerte Stadt. Zu meinen Highlights zählen neben der wunderschönen Architektur auch die Naturnähe. So kommt man sehr schnell mit öffentlichen Verkehrsmitteln in die nahegelegenen Weinberge, aber auch zum sommerlichen Planschen an die Donau (Station Donaustadtbrücke). Ganz in der Nähe sind auch Wakeboard-Anlagen, die echt Spaß machen. Super erreichbar von Wien sind auch Bratislava und Budapest für Wochenendtrips. An Nachtclubs kann ich den „Volksgarten“ aka „VoGa“ ans Herz legen. Allerdings ist der Kleidungsstil eher förmlich und man sollte sich auf lange Wartezeiten einstellen. Unser Workaround war dort sehr früh anzukommen, einen Stempel abzuholen und anschließend noch in eine nahe gelegene Karaoke Bar zu relocaten, ehe die eigentliche Party begann. Richtig stark fand ich auch den Prater, Wiens ganzjähriger Freizeitpark mitten in der Stadt. Als Ingenieur immer eine Reise wert ist das Naturwissenschaftliche Museum Wien, mit Ausstellungen über alle technischen Errungenschaften der Menschheit. Zuletzt gab eine Ausstellung zu Artificial Intelligence. Das naturhistorische Museum fand ich schon weniger spannend, da hier der Fokus eher auf das Ausstellen von möglichst vielen bunten Mineralien gelegt wurde. ich habe gehört, dass das Albertina eine sehr schöne Kunstsammlung zeigt. Ich persönlich war nur im Albertina Modern, das mich persönlich weniger begeistert hat.

 

Insgesamt hatte ich mit meinem 10 wöchigen Aufenthalt eine recht kurze, aber dennoch intensive Zeit. Durch die finanzielle Unterstützung des Erasmus Programms, kann man dabei auch wirklich viel von der Stadt mitnehmen.

Praktikum direkt am Meer: Einblicke in die marine Ökotoxikologie!

20. Oktober 2021 | von

Steckbrief:

  • Spanien, Vigo
  • Ökotoxikologie, M.Sc.
  • Forschungsaufenthalt zum Anfertigen einer Masterthesis
  • 01.02.2021 – 29.08.2021

Meine Erfahrung:

Vom 02.08.2021 bis zum 29.08.2021 verbrachte ich einen Forschungsaufenthalt zur Anfertigung einer Masterthesis am E.C.I.M.A.T, dem marinen Forschungszentrum der Universität Vigo. Genau war ich in der Arbeitsgruppe vom Professor Beiras tätig und befasste mich mit der Abbaubarkeit von konventionellem und Bioplastik in mariner Umgebung.

Institut und Forschung

Das ECIMAT liegt auf der Illa de Toralla, einer durch eine Brücke erreichbare Insel in der Mündung des Ria Vigo. Es beherbergt mehrere Arbeitsgruppen, die alle gut zusammenarbeiten und bietet so die Möglichkeit in viele Bereiche zu schnuppern. Ich war in der Arbeitsgruppe ECOTOX beschäftigt. Ergänzend zum Studium an der RWTH Aachen konnte ich so Erfahrungen in der marinen Ökotoxikologie gewinnen. Professor Beiras gibt einem bei der Arbeit alle Freiheiten in Planung und Durchführung. Nach vorlegen eines Konzepts ist man per se auf sich allein gestellt. Mir persönlich liegt die Art des autonomen Arbeitens, wer damit Schwierigkeiten hat, sollte besser nicht in dieser Arbeitsgruppe arbeiten, da Professor Beiras wenig Zeit hat und Mentoring eher am Rand geschieht. Das restliche Team ist durch die Bank nett und hilfsbereit. Ein großer Pluspunkt des Institutes ist die Lage direkt am Wasser, sodass der Weg zum Strand nach Arbeitsende keine Minute beträgt.

Wohnen und Vigo

Wohnungen in Vigo zu finden ist dank Idealista nicht schwer. Ich persönlich spreche nur leidlich Spanisch, aber dank Google Übersetzer ist es kein Problem mit den Vermietern zu kommunizieren und da es viele WG´s von und für Erasmusstudenten gibt läuft ein Großteil der Kommunikation auf Englisch ab. Vigo liegt in einem Tal an die Flussmündung des Ria Vigo geschmiegt. Die Innenstadt ist ein wenig Flussaufwärts (hier befinden sich viele Bars und Restaurants) und ist der einzige schöne Teil, die restliche Stadt ähnelt eher einem Industriegebiet. Das Ganze fällt allerdings nicht allzu sehr ins Gewicht, da die umgebende Natur wunderschön ist und sich das Leben im Sommer faktisch am Strand abspielt. Diesen erreicht man einfach mit dem Bus. Auch der Weg zum Hauptcampus ist einfach mit dem Bus zu bewältigen. Empfehlen kann ich trotzdem die Anreise mit dem eigenen Auto, da es an den freien Tagen die Chance eröffnet die wunderschöne Landschaft Galiciens zu erkunden. Aber auch mit Zug und Bus kann man umliegende Orte und Nationalparks gut erkunden und wem der Sinn nach etwas mehr leben am Wochenende steht kann immer mit dem Bus ins nahe Porto fahren.

Im Allgemeinen sind die Spanier super nett und Vigo ist dank seiner Nähe zum Wasser super Lebenswert. Wem autonomes Arbeiten und eigenständiges lernen liegt ist auch in der Arbeitsgruppe von Professor Beiras sehr gut aufgehoben. Ich würde jederzeit wieder dort Forschen und wohnen und kann jedem die Erfahrung nur empfehlen.

 

Praktikum bei Northvolt in Schweden: eines der meist umworbenen Start-ups in der Energieindustrie in Europa

20. Oktober 2021 | von

Steckbrief:

  • Schweden, Stockholm
  • Wirtschaftsingenieurwesen Fachrichtung Maschinenbau
  • Freiwilliges Praktikum
  • 07.06.2021 – 06.08.2021

Hi!
Im Sommer 2021 absolvierte ich mein freiwilliges Auslandspraktikum bei der Firma Northvolt in Stockholm, Schweden. Das sogenannte „Summer Internship Program“ ging 9 Wochen vom 07.06 bis zum 06.08.

©Lukas Schulze

Kurz zu dem Unternehmen: Northvolt wurde von den ehemaligen Tesla-Managern Peter Carlsson und Paolo Cerruti 2016 offiziell gegründet mit dem Ziel ein globaler Player der Batterieindustrie zu werden und die grünste Batteriezelle der Welt (geringsten CO2-Fußabdruck) zu produzieren. Seit der Gründung vor fünf Jahren wuchs das Unternehmen stetig, sodass das Unternehmen heute ca. 1700 Mitarbeiter beschäftigt. Mit zahlreichen prominenten Investoren wie z.Bsp. Volkswagen zählt Northvolt heute als eines der meist umworbenen Start-ups in der Energieindustrie in Europa.

Der Gedanke, vor Abschluss meines Masterstudiums nochmals für ein Praktikum ins Ausland zu gehen, entwickelte sich kurz nach Abgabe meiner Bachelorarbeit im Februar 2020. So fing ich an, mich kontinuierlich auf unterschiedlichste Stellen in unterschiedlichste Ländern gegen Ende des Jahres 2020 zu bewerben. Im Zuge meiner Recherche wurde ich dann auch auf Northvolt aufmerksam, sodass ich mich Anfang 2021 auf die Stelle „ Business Development, Battery Systems“ bewarb. Als kleinen Tipp nebenbei möchte ich euch darauf hinweisen, sofern ihr euch auf ein Auslandspraktikum bewerben wollt, dass sich die geforderten Bewerbungsunterlagen je nach Land im Stil und Umfang unterscheiden. Informiert euch also vor Absenden der Bewerbung über die gängigen Bewerbungsformen des jeweiligen Landes.

Im März diesen Jahres erhielt ich dann die erfreuliche Nachricht über die Einladung zu einem Bewerbungsgespräch. Insgesamt hatte ich drei Interviews auf Englisch inklusive einer Fallbearbeitung. Wie ich im Nachhinein erfuhr war das Bewerberangebot sehr groß, dementsprechend: Bereitet euch gut auf die Interviews vor und legt Wert auf die Gestaltung und Formulierungen eurer Lebensläufe und Anschreiben!

Wohnen:

Vor meiner Anreise nach Stockholm ging es für mich auf Wohnungssuche. In Stockholm ist der Wohnungsmarkt sehr umkämpft, nehmt also alle Optionen der Wohnungssuche war: Wohnungsvermittlungsseiten wie Bostadsportal und Qasa (hier würde ich euch auch empfehlen ein ausführliches Profil von euch anzulegen (wäre ggfs. mit zusätzlichen Kosten verbunden), so können Vermieter gezielt nach euch suchen + diese würden euch dann auch bei Interesse kontaktieren), Facebookgruppen (es gibt relativ viele Facebookgruppen, wo Wohnungssuchende ihr Profil posten und regelmäßig Wohnungen zur Vermietung angeboten werden – also haltet Ausschau nach diesen Gruppen) und als letzten Punkt – fragt eure Betreuer in dem Unternehmen oder andere Studierende, die Kontakt nach Stockholm haben, ob die jemanden kennen, der/die seine/ihre Wohnung vermieten möchte. Glücklicherweise konnte ich über die dritte Option eine Wohnung finden.

Als es dann in Stockholm selber losging, war zunächst vieles neu. Nach kurzer Eingewöhnungszeit und stets offener Haltung gegenüber auch privater Aktivitäten neben der Arbeit, habe ich mich schnell zurecht gefunden. Die Tatsache, dass der Sommer in Schweden/Stockholm sehr angenehm und schön ist, hat dabei nicht geschadet. Durch meine positiven Erfahrungen während meines Praktikums entschloss ich mich, über das Praktikum bei Northvolt zu bleiben und meine Masterarbeit dort zu schreiben. Mit dem Einverständnis meiner Betreuer ließ sich dies sehr schnell klären. Falls ihr dies auch einmal vorhaben solltet, kommuniziert euer Vorhaben rechtzeitig an eure Betreuer – gerade durch die Urlaubszeit im Juli in Schweden, kann der Prozess etwas Zeit kosten. Auf alle Fälle freue ich mich im September nach Stockholm zurückzukehren und meine Reise dort fortzuführen.