Intern Abroad

Archive for May, 2024

Writing a master thesis in Italy

May 6th, 2024 | by
  • Plastics and Textile Technology M.Sc.
  • Italy, Bollate(MI)
  • SYENSQO Specialty Polymers Italy S.p.A.
  • 10/2023-03/2024

Application/Finding a master thesis

As in most study programs, you can choose to write your thesis at the university or externally in a company. For this reason, it was clear to me at an early stage that I wanted to write my Master’s thesis externally in order to gain further important practical experience. The contact to the former SOLVAY (SOLVAY has outsourced its Specialty Polymer Business Unit and founded its own company, which is now called SYENSQO) was made via the IKV Recruiting Speed Dating. There I was able to get to know my current supervisor in a brief in

© Cihan Koyuncu

terview and discuss my ideas about an external master’s thesis. It was no problem to get a confirmation, as both sides were interested in carrying out a Master’s thesis. As the Bollate site has never had a Master’s student outside of Italy before, in addition to the selection of the topic, a number of things had to be clarified with regard to insurance, contract, payment and other regulations. These points were resolved within almost a year via several meetings with various departments of the company or the university, so that I was able to start in Italy on time on 01.10.2023. For a good planning of a stay abroad, 9-12 months should be taken into account. If you are going to work abroad, you should find out about tax matters in advance. In the case of Italy, a Codice Viscale is required, which you can apply for at any Italian embassy in Germany.

Accommondation & Living expenses

Since I needed a furnished apartment, I used AirBnB to ask the various apartment providers for a long-term contract. This allowed me to reduce the price a little, as I was able to save on Airbnb’s fees and they were able to accommodate me in terms of price due to the 6-month stay. As Italians rarely speak English, there were considerable communication problems with some of the locals. For this reason, communication often took place via Deepl in order to at least get the message across. Financing an apartment in Milan would not have been possible despite the salary and the Erasmus money. That’s why I first lived in Limbiate and later in Magenta. This saved me the high rents in Milan. Nevertheless, I had to spend more on gas and have to travel 30-60 minutes to get to work, depending on the traffic. The remaining costs were comparatively slightly lower than in Germany. Despite this, I was able to travel a lot and generally had a very good time in Italy. Many museums and attractions are free for young adults under 25. Restaurants are comparatively cheaper as German restaurants and the quality of the food is significantly better. I was able to save some money, because the meals at work were free for me.

Everyday life/the internship

I had a 40-hour contract and therefore spent 9 hours a day in Bollate including a break. In the morning I left the house at 8:30 a.m. and was there at around 9:15 a.m. Because the working hours were flexible, I was able to come and go whenever I wanted. The most important thing was that I fulfill my tasks with high quality and at the same time deliver them on time. Due to the early work traffic, I deliberately drove to work later and was therefore able to reduce travel times. Whenever my supervisor worked from home, I was also allowed to work from home. At Syensqo, in addition to my master’s thesis, I took part in regular work operations and was therefore able to help out with some projects on the side. I was able to get to know many colleagues from the site, exchange ideas and work together. Among other things, we had contact with colleagues in Lyon, France and Alpharetta, USA. The lunch break enabled me to get to know my colleagues better.

© Cihan Koyuncu
Lake Como

Here in Italy great value is placed on food culture. In the canteen there is a first (primi) and second (secondi) course in addition to salad and dessert every day. After every lunch break we sat down together for an espresso. Afterwards you were fit enough to devote yourself to work again.

The master’s thesis was about the comparison of high-performance tribological plastic compounds with and without PTFE. I examined the tribological parameters (COF, wear, PV limit) of various compounds and compared them with each other. This made it possible to determine the effect of graphite and other tribological additives on the tribological properties. In addition, two different methods for determining the tribological properties were compared.

After work there wasn’t much time left for other activities. I often did sports or studied for upcoming exams in the evenings. I was also allowed to fly back to Germany for the exams and work from my home office for several weeks. I was also able to get to know SYENSQO’s German location in Duesseldorf. What pleasantly surprised me was that even in Germany the colleagues were international. My colleagues were therefore predominantly Italian, but there were also some French, Austrian, Irish, Turkish and German colleagues. The working language was English, which is why my English improved significantly over these six months. But I also had the opportunity to learn some Italian.

It was particularly exciting to find out about everyday matters in Italy, all of which are different in Germany. Shopping, paying tolls or even washing the car was a bit of a challenge at first, but we were quickly able to figure it out with the help of the internet and by asking the locals. Even though many Italians were either unwilling to speak English or simply couldn’t speak it, a lot was communicated via gestures and facial expressions and, if necessary, communicated directly in Italian using Google Translate.

© Cihan Koyuncu

Free time/tips

During the six months I was there, I wanted to see as much of Italy as possible. That’s why I spent most of my free time at the weekend travelling around the cities. The cultural sights and churches in particular are a definite must-see. The train connections in Italy are very good, much more punctual than in Germany and comparatively cheaper. I often slept in cheap hostels so that I could finance this amount of travelling. You can be lucky, but you can also be unlucky, which is why it’s well worth doing your research beforehand. Most sights in Italy are free for EU citizens under 25. Student discounts are rare, but in the cases where they were offered, I often didn’t have to show anything. Tickets for attractions could often be booked online in advance, which saved precious waiting time. However, you often had to pay by credit card. Here is a list of the cities I visited and my most important tips for a stay there.


Despite the fact that it is a world metropolis, Milan is actually the city that is least worth seeing in my opinion. This is not because the city itself is not beautiful, but rather because I liked all the other cities much better. The main sights in Milan are the cathedral and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, both of which are located directly on the cathedral square. You can visit the cathedral and even go up to the roof of the cathedral. Milan’s Arc de Triomphe and the neighbouring park are also very beautiful. If you walk through the park, you quickly come to a former castle, which you can also visit. There are many culinary options in Milan. Above all, a visit to China Town is worthwhile, especially in the evening. You can also visit the Cimitero Monumentale (Milan’s old cemetery) with its incredibly beautiful sculptures and tombs. Important Milanese personalities are also buried there, so it’s worth checking out who is buried there first. You can also visit the original “Last Supper” by Da Vinci in Milan. However, getting tickets for this was much more complicated than usual, which is why I unfortunately missed it.


If you live near Como, I think it’s worth making several trips to Como and especially to enjoy the beautiful view.

© Cihan Koyuncu

Como is located on Lake Como and from there you can visit the numerous small villages on the lake. It is probably one of the most beautiful places in Italy, especially in summer. In Como, you can also book tickets for a boat tour that will take you to the villages on the lake.


Bergamo is one of the smaller cities in the Milan metropolitan region. Bergamo’s old town is situated on a hill, so you can either climb up the numerous steps or take the mountain railway (€1.70 each way). A beautiful old town centre awaits you at the top. The two churches on the market square are particularly worth a visit. I can particularly recommend foccacia at Il Fornaio and the original and first straciatella ice cream at La Marianna. A short day trip is enough to fully explore Bergamo.


Verona also has a beautiful old town centre. I was only able to stay there for a few hours on the way back from Venice. I can only encourage everyone to visit this city. Verona is also the city of Romeo and Juliet.


I don’t think I need to say much about Venice. Beautiful city with numerous canals, but unfortunately with a lot of tourists. Even if you just stroll through the streets of Venice, you can see a lot of beautiful things there. The big sights are definitely the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica. The Venice Opera is definitely worth seeing.


Very few people have an eye on the city on the Po. Still a very beautiful city that is definitely worth a day trip. The Musei Reali contains some really beautiful art and should definitely be visited. There is also a very nice car museum in Turin for all car enthusiasts. But definitely don’t miss the opportunity to take a walk along the Po.

© Cihan Koyuncu


The largest connected old town in the world can be found in Genoa. I was rather suspicious when I looked at the pictures on the Internet, but I was even more enthusiastic about this city once I was there. Therefore a must for everyone who wants to see a very extravagant, very wealthy city in Italy with a French flair.


The city of the Medici, an absolute must-see for anyone who has been to Italy. The Galleria dell’Academica and the Uffizi are a must-visit, especially for art enthusiasts. There you can see, among other things, the impressive original David sculpture. The magnificent Duomo in Florence is beautiful from the outside. But save yourself the waiting time and don’t go in, as it’s even bareer inside. For everyone who likes to learn about the history of Italy and Florence. Most and important Medicis, Donatello and 1-2 popes are buried in the Medici Chapel. You can get a good view of the city from one of Florence’s gardens, but you have to pay an entrance fee. Instead you can go to Piazzale Michelangelo and watch the sunset from there. You can get a good view of the city from one of Florence’s gardens, but you have to pay an entrance fee. Instead you can go to Piazzale Michelangelo and watch the sunset from there.


You should generally plan 3-4 days for Rome because you can see so much. Therefore, you should plan well in advance. The only tip I would like to give about Rome. Be sure to book tickets for the Vatican Museum in advance (1-2 weeks in advance). Otherwise you have to wait in line for up to 3 hours. But it was still worth it because you can see, among other things, the Sistine Chapel and with it the famous chapel painting by Michelangelo (The Creation of Adam).

So as became clear, spending time on weekends, holidays and good planning meant I was able to travel a lot. Even though this meant foregoing most of the other luxuries, I think I made the most of my time in Italy.


I am very satisfied and grateful for the opportunity to have been abroad. This would not have been possible without the support of Erasmus+. Not only was I able to gain important experience but I was also able to grow as a person. Living abroad is an experience that I would recommend to everyone and that will definitely provide personal growth. From today’s perspective I might approach certain points differently, but overall I’m very happy with how these six months went. The six months at SYENSQO also showed me what the working world looks like in other countries and how it can differ from that in Germany. Important experiences that I will carry with me in my life regarding international understanding. I can only recommend that everyone take a stay abroad as part of their studies. Above all, I can recommend everyone to visit this beautiful country, absorb the culture and experience all the beautiful things that I could only touch on here as part of the report.