Intern Abroad

Archive for August, 2023

Internship in Eindhoven

August 28th, 2023 | by
  • Electrical Engineering M.Sc.
  • Netherlands, Eindhoven
  • ASML
  • 04/2023 – 08/2023


As I was looking for a place for my mandatory internship, I was first and foremost looking for a good company to stay at. The actual country to which this internship would take me was secondary to this for me, although the idea of living outside of Germany for a while did excite me. Due to the Erasmus Internship program I could freely explore internship vacancies within the European union without much worries, which opened many possibilities for interesting companies. The application process in my experience is similar to many German companies, although the interviews and documents were of course in English.

Accommodation & Living expenses:

Finding accommodation in the area around Eindhoven is hard. The housing market in that region is quite exhausted due to a high number of students who are attending the local university, and the local high-tech campus with large companies like Philips and ASML who have employees with much larger budgets looking for flats as well. The prices for rooms in shared flats are high, and even then, getting a place in one is difficult. Furthermore, some local (private) student housing providers only accept students of the local university. Due to the short duration of my stay, I did not have much success in getting accommodation through the local web portals like kamernet which are popular to find roommates either. In the end I luckily found a stay through an initial Airbnb booking, but this method is far from reliable. The expenses for groceries are higher than in Germany, but still affordable. The main problem is for sure finding accommodation.

Everyday life / The internship:

One of the most important tips for everyday life is surely to get a bicycle. The entire region is very accommodating for cyclists, and with the little height differences in the Netherlands cycling is a very comfortable way to get around. My company had an entire bicycle parking garage, as well as bicycle paths. Downtown areas too provide easily accessible parking spaces for bikes, which often makes them the most reliable method of getting around. It is often times even faster than taking the car. There are offers which rent out bicycles for quite a good price on a monthly basis, with full insurance as well, which I would recommend looking into so that you don’t need to bring your own bicycle with you.
During the internship the people I have encountered were all quite cheerful and not very keen on hierarchy. It is common to talk on a first name basis with every superior, and all members of our team were sitting in one open office with an open-door policy (well we didn’t have doors after all). There is a large focus on mental health, preventing burnouts, and team building, which was very nice to experience. As an intern I profited of this fundamental attitude a lot, since I was free to go around and ask anyone for help if needed and got to know the people much quicker than I would have with individual offices or a more secluded workspace. I felt part of the team quickly, and towards the end when some of my coworkers referred to me when tackled with problems I had dealt with during my own project I felt like the team had properly included me although I was bound to leave again.

Free time / tips:

As mentioned above, I would heavily recommend bringing or get a bicycle to get around. Other than that, I can recommend asking coworkers for help if you are looking for anything or need help with something, even outside of work. From my experience they are happy to help you settle in and get adjusted quickly.
In my opinion the city of Eindhoven is not that much of a tourist attraction, so look around a bit further to see where you want to go in your free time. There sure is a lot to see, just maybe not right in front of your doorstep.


All in all, I can recommend an internship in the Netherlands very much provided you can find an accommodation, where availability heavily depends on the city. The country is especially appealing to students with its focus on bicycles, which are a lot cheaper to maintain than a car. The cost of living, although more expensive than Germany, is manageable. The people are very welcoming, and it’s quite fun that many are excited to test their German skills when they learn where you’re from. The culture and language are close enough to German so you can get around, while still providing the experience of a foreign country. In case something goes majorly wrong you can return to Aachen within a few hours so that the first longer term foreign stay is not all too scary. In conclusion, for anyone who wants to dip their toes into going abroad, going to the Netherlands is a great start.

Internship in Antwerp

August 8th, 2023 | by
  • Business Administration and Engineering: Mechanical Engineering M.Sc.
  • Belgium, Antwerp
  • Evonik Industries AG
  • 03/2023 – 07/2023

1. Application/Finding an internship

The path to my internship led me though the Unitech program which I can very much recommend.
Because of that, I will explain the program here shortly. More information about it can be found under and via the RWTH where it is listed under the options to go abroad. It is a one
year long program for engineering students by the Unitech International Society which is a network of
European universities and partner companies. The program usually consists of an exchange semester in
fall/winter and an internship in spring which are joined by three weeks of additional activities in the
beginning, the middle and the end of the year. There, students meet, work on projects and are coached in
non-technical skills such team work or leadership. So overall, you are getting to know an even larger
group of people as well as making contacts into the professional world when compared to a normal
exchange. Additionally, it allows for an internship experience abroad, if you want. I am convinced that
without Unitech, my goal to do an internship abroad that fitted my study background and interests would
not have been possible in a comparable way. It created a platform to meet and discuss my goals and
interests with the participating companies to find the internship.
It is worth mentioning that (longer) internships are not that common in Belgium during the studies and
have to be confirmed by the regional government. This seems to ensure that students are not used as
cheap labor. The company needs to hand in an internship plan defining learning goals etc. This was
quickly assessed and accepted, so in my case no problem and I was supported well by the company.

2. Accomodation & Living expenses

The chemical industry cluster in the Port of Antwerp is one of the biggest in the world, stretching for the
city for around 30-40km up the river Scheldt to the Dutch border. The companies present there are
connected to the city by a bus system and dedicated lines for cycling. Antwerp is also beautiful and a
great place to live which played a role in convincing me to take on the internship. Thus, it made perfect
sense to search for accommodation in the city, which is also a student city and has a lot of housing
opportunities. Whether you are allowed to take a student housing as an intern depends on the
organization, but I found a place to stay this way and lived the months in a student room with a big shared
kitchen for the whole floor. It was a fairly new private building and living conditions where excellent. Prices
are higher than in Aachen, but I am confident in saying that something decent can easily be found for
500-600€ a month like in my case, with more time also below that.
Living expenses in Belgium are slightly higher than in Germany, although I spent my time there in an
inflationary period so that when coming back, I had to realise that prices were not same back home to
compare with. Especially food and stuff you would buy in dm or Rossmann I definitely found more
expensive and worth bringing from Germany from time to time and as far as possible.
In terms of taxes, insurance and other expenses, I can only say that as an EU citizen I was able to keep
the German insurance and paid a relatively small amount of income tax as a student. I have no
information on what general rules apply, just my specific case.

3. Everyday life/ the internship

First of all, Antwerp is not too far away from Aachen, within the EU and with a surprising high share of
German speakers, at least among the older generations. From that perspective, cultural differences are
surprisingly big and were in my view a very positive experience. I experienced people very open,
welcoming and very good in speaking English. French on the contrary is not as helpful and welcome as
Antwerp is in the Flemish speaking part and not in Wallonia. The differences like the language between
the different parts of Belgium (also the lack of understanding between Flemish speaking regions) where
very interesting to learn about.
I worked form 8:00 to 16:45 and took 30 mins by bus before and afterwards that was free and organized
by the industrial hub for commuting workers. Cycling is very popular in Antwerp and with summer
approaching, I also used my bike for the 17km commute along the river. This was not as beautiful as it
may sound, as the view is dominated by (petro-) chemical industry and container terminals, but
impressive and excellent in infrastructure for cycling. This goes for the whole city as well, as there is a
great well-balanced mixture of modes of transport. Cycling to work is also supported by a certain amount
of money depending on the distance. This would not have been necessary to motivate me, but indicates
the local will and need to get people away using from cars.
My work at one of the present chemical industry sites focused on how to achieve sustainable energy
supply, which very well suited my study background. There are mainly production sites of multi-national
corporations and it was very impressive as well as a bit intimidating to be part of the production of modern
Society’s needs for fuels, plastics, nutrition, fertilizers, care products and all other chemical products
concentrated in one area. I can recommend visiting not only to people with my specific focus on energy
engineering, as it shows the challenges that contradict the notion of just having to transition such an
existing infrastructure and ecosystem to climate neutrality quickly when ambition, will and the necessary
technical solutions are all there. I was allowed to support in projects with the goal to achieve this and it
gave me great insights how this is approached and how my acquired knowledge can be applied.

4. Free time/tips

I lived in a part of the city called Eilandje, which is in the North of the city and very recently modernized
and built around the old docks that are now too small for modern big ships and mainly used for leasure
boats. This means there is a lot of wide space around the water together with museums, bars and
restaurants as well as possibilities to spend free time. In contrast, in the central old town you find beautiful
streets and squares around the cathedral close to the river bank with the Market Square and even more
restaurants and bars. Between the two parts of the city, there are a lot of student homes and activities so
that this overall area is probably the best area to stay in Antwerp, although the South of the city is nice as
Compared to other Western European cities, you will find most of what is a trend and successful brand in
other countries also present in Antwerp. Nevertheless, the restaurant and bar culture is more vibrant and
young people seem to be around a lot. Next to the opportunities the city itself has to offer, it is relatively
easy to get to Rotterdam and Amsterdam in the North as well as Brussels, Gent, Brugge or even Paris in
the South. Even though Antwerp has the second biggest port in Europe, it is still quite a bit to the coast
but it is probably no problem to go there as well.

5. Conclusion

All in all, I can recommend Unitech or any other path to an internship abroad, even if it is seemingly close
by like Belgium. Belgium to me is a very interesting and beautiful country I would never have discovered
in such a way and my stay allowed for numerous different perspectives and insights I would not want to
miss. I spent a great time and can recommend the country, the city of Antwerp and the idea to work or do
an internship there.

Research visit at Cornell University

August 7th, 2023 | by
  • Mechanical Engineering, PhD
  • USA, Ithaca
  • Cornell University
  • 03/2023 – 05/2023


  1. Application/Finding an internship

Since the start of my Ph.D., I planned to do a research visit abroad, and I was constantly looking for research questions that were suitable for it. Even though my ideas did not really convince me, I scheduled a meeting with my Ph.D. advisor. In this meeting, we discussed possible research groups which fit my research topics. Based on this, I picked a research group and developed a work plan for the stay. With that plan, my advisor contacted the guest professor, which agreed to the exchange. The next step was the official application as visiting non-degree graduate student. I got an administrational contact person that help me with the application. Besides typical application documents like certificates and a statement of purpose, proof of financial resources is required. A fellowship granted by Cornell University covered my tuition fee, so I only had to proof financial resources for living expenses and obligatory health insurance. Once the application process was completed, I received my admission letter and the I20. Both documents are required to apply for a visa. I started the application process 3.5 months before the start of my visit. In the end, I almost ran out of time and received my visa just a week before departure. Hence, I recommend starting the application process earlier.

  1. Accommodation & Living expenses

The beautiful campus of Cornell University lies on a hill above the city center of Ithaca. In close vicinity to the campus is College Town, which is the main area for student living (like Pontviertel). The convenience comes at a cost. In my experience, prices are quite high and conditions low. I spent 800$ on a small (12m2) room in a six-bedroom apartment with only one bathroom. Luckily, there were only three of us living there. To find an apartment, I asked the administrational contact person for help. Even though that provided some opportunities, I took the room that I found online on In general, I think it is not necessary to live in College Town. The local buses, which Cornell University operates, are free of charge for students and cover the city well. Living expenses are, in general, higher. For lunch on campus, you have to spend between 8 and 15$. In particular, groceries are substantially more expensive than in Germany, making it almost as expensive as going out for food.

  1. Everyday life/the internship

My everyday life was similar to my life at RWTH Aachen University. I got an office space in Upson Hall, which is one of the engineering buildings. The group that I visited covered two office rooms plus the office of the guest professor. My office space was within these office rooms, so I was fully integrated into the group. The group was very kind and made me feel very welcome. We went together for lunch or had dinners together. A small difference to my everyday life in Aachen was the more spontaneous interaction with the guest professor. He was basically every day available for discussions, which he showed by leaving the office door open.

  1. Free time/tips

Ithaca is smaller than Aachen but provides enough things to spend your free time. In addition, I highly recommend renting a car to discover the surrounding countryside. To keep this easy, I list my highlights in Ithaca and the surrounding countryside:

  • Watkins Glen State Park
  • Cascadille Gorge Trail
  • Taughannock Falls State Park (The park at the lake is also very nice)
  • Ithaca Farmers Market
  • Ithaca Beer Co, Liquid State, Garrett, Salt Point (Breweries that serve delicious beer and tasty food)
  • Rhine House (Best bar)
  • Dos Amigos (Best burrito)
  1. Conclusion

My research visit at Cornell University was professionally and personally a success. I substantially advanced my research, bringing me a step closer to my Ph.D. Moreover, I gained helpful impressions about the American academic system, which are helpful for planning my future career. Finally, I met so many nice people that I look forward to seeing again.

Internship in Oslo

August 7th, 2023 | by
  • Molecular and Applied Biotechnology, M.Sc.
  • Norway, Oslo
  • Universitetet i Oslo
  • 05/2023 – 07/2023

After looking for some alternatives outside the EU, I decided to search for an internship position in the EU and apply for the Erasmus+ funding. This was was with comparably few preparation time and less bureaucracy possible. To find an internship position, i visited the websites of universities I found interesting and searched for departments that work on topics that are interesting to me. I did not search for specific open position, but just wrote short formless mail to the professors or group leaders, introducing me and stating my interest. This worked very well and I had to contact less than five research groups to find an interesting project.

To find a place to live, I took a look at the offers from the University. In Oslo, this is SIO. They care for student cafeterias, housing, and do even have a fitness studio. The hosing application was simple and is worth a try. Even if you might be not quite sure, in which category of applicant you belong, you can ask them or also try what sounds best to you. The people there were very friendly and everything was very uncomplicated. For me it was important to live in a shared flat, because this makes meeting new people much easier and you will never be alone. Living expenses are indeed like everyone says more expensive than in Germany, but regarding the inflation in Europe and the the weak exchange rate of the Norwegian krown at the time, normal groceries were not too much more expensive.

I lived together with other students, mainly from Italy and one person from Germany, that made an Erasmus semester in Oslo. The dormitory was full of Erasmus students and it was easy to meet new people. Unfortunately, I arrived at the end of the Semester and most other students left after my first of three month. If possible, it might be an asset to plan you stay according to the semester start in you city of destination as then are much more social activities.

I travelled to Norway by car, what made it possible to carry a bicycle with me. But travelling by Train and Ferry or by Plane also works very well. For the mobility in Oslo, I can highly recommend to either bring a bicycle with you from home, or buy a cheap one in Oslo. Public transportation in excellent in Oslo, but also expensive, especially if you do not have a student status. By bike you are much more flexible and see much more of the city.

In the Institute I worked, the working atmosphere was very nice and welcoming. As a student I was invited to all meetings and free time activities, but never felt forced to participate anywhere. The first part of the Internship was very relaxed and some things did not work right away, but my supervisors were very supportive and always helped me when necessary. They also handled the pressure very healthy in the final part of the internship. I did work a lot in the last weeks, but this decision was left free for me and I was not set under pressure by my supervisors.

All in all, my Internship was a very enriching experience. I made my internship in a field I was so very proficient in before. This made it quite challenging for me, but on the other hand I feel like I have learned an incredible amount of things during these three month.

I planned to do some vacation after the internship and my supervisors helped me to plan the submission so that this is possible.

Working in a hosptial in Saint-Pierre – La Réunion

August 4th, 2023 | by
  • Medicine
  • France, St. Pierre
  • Centre hospitalier universitaire la Reunion
  • 03/2023 – 07/2023

I applied about a year in advance through the e-mail address The application required a CV, a letter of motivation and the certificate of matriculation. Compared to Martinique and Guadeloupe, you get a pretty reliable answer when applying for la Réunion. At first, I only received a confirmation that the application had arrived, and even with more inquiries, I did not receive the final acceptance until the beginning of December. Therefore, perseverance and patience are required. However, the lady in charge, answered all my questions very quickly and reliably. After the acceptance, I still had to send some documents such as a copy of my passport, liability insurance and vaccination certificates. Overall, I found the application process somewhat lengthy but uncomplicated.

© Jana Mattes

Accommodation and living costs
I started looking about 1-2 months in advance. The French and also the Reunionese are still very active on Facebook, which is why I joined various Facebook groups (just enter Colocation Saint-Pierre/ Coloc Réunion or similar on Facebook). Furthermore I searched on Airbnb and leboncoin. Leboncoin is more or less the French Ebay. In the end, I found a small one-bedroom apartment near the central bus station on leboncoin. I also bought a bicycle through leboncoin, which I also highly recommend for the way to the hospital, as traffic is really annoying on the island. The apartment was quite expensive (800 euros/month) and since I got to know two other German students over time, I moved in with both of them after two months. Here it is worth asking around in the hospital if there are doctors who travel for a while and unrent their house. We were lucky and lived the last two months in a large house with a pool 5 minutes walk from the hospital (400 euros/person).
Also, if you want to do something on the weekends, it is worth renting a car. Five of us shared a car for 450 euros a month. There are buses, but these often do not go to the starting points of the hikes and you are much more flexible with the car.
Otherwise, I have found the cost of living is not much more expensive than in Europe. You can get fresh fruit and vegetables very cheaply at the weekly market and free lunch at the hospital.

The internship
My workday began at 8 a.m. in the visceral surgery department. At first, no one really felt responsible for me. A nurse got me work clothes and then I went along on rounds. The rounds were generally kept very short and there was no teaching. After that, I was always sent to the operating room. Since there was only one resident at the time I was there, I was often the first resident in the operating room. Here, questions were always answered nicely and the atmosphere in surgery was very relaxed and less hierarchical compared to Germany. Once or twice I was also allowed to help with suturing, but in Reunion, unlike in Germany, this is often done by the senior physicians themselves.
At noon, I almost always had lunch with the other erasmus-students and since the doctors work relatively long every day (until 18/19h) and do not send you home, I went home at some point usually around 3 or 4 pm.
After 6 weeks in the visceral surgery I changed the department, because I also wanted to see other departments. This was possible without any problems. I then spent 2 weeks in the emergency room. Here I was able to work very independently, examining patients, suturing and writing reports.

© Jana Mattes

The last weeks I was in the orthopedics department together with 3 other erasmus students. Here I often switched between the outpatient clinic and the operating room, the doctors here were really nice and the medical standard was quite high.
Overall, you have to have a high level of personal commitment and show a lot of initiative to learn something, but if they notice that you are interested, it is quite possible to learn a lot. You can also arrange the working hours as you like. The doctors are overall very relaxed and nice, but they don’t really know what to do with foreign students. In addition, they don’t pay much attention to possible language barriers, which is why I only recommend an internship there if you speak a sufficiently high level of french.

Free time
Reunion is an really beautiful island in terms of leisure! For anyone who loves hiking, climbing, nature and outdoor activities, the island will be a paradise. We spent most weekends backpacking and camping in the mountains. Must-dos are of course the volcano, Piton de Neige and Mafate. During the week, we often went to the beach bar on the small beach of Terre Sainte in the evenings. On Sunday evenings there are always free live concerts in Saint Leu, which are worth a visit.

© Jana Mattes

There are always many new people on the island who only stay for 1-2 years, so it is quite easy to meet new people. Also in the hospital we were a group of one Spanish, three Germans and three Swiss. French students were few, because in la Réunion you have to continue studying on the mainland after the 6th semester.
Overall, of course, it was very hot and humid in the first months (March, April), then it cools down considerably in the winter.


Overall, I can recommend a stay on la Réunion to anyone who likes nature and mountains. The landscape there is simply insanely diverse and beautiful. In the hospital you have to be very proactive and stay quite long in the evening if you want to learn something. Otherwise, you can be very flexible with your working time and also take a day off if you want.