Intern Abroad

Kategorie: ‘Civil Engineering’

My experiences in Sweden – enriching on a professional and personal level

January 9th, 2023 | by
  • Construction and Robotics M.Sc.
  • Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Volvo Group
  • March 2022 – December 2022


My decision to seek out an internship abroad was motivated primarily by the opportunity for professional growth. I was motivated to join my host institution- Volvo group in the department of Volvo trucks, for digital and flexible manufacturing plant, for several reasons: Firstly, it is a completely international organization, bringing together diverse collaborations between researchers from all over the world. I was very excited to gain diverse, international, and interdisciplinary perspectives on manufacturing and computer vision as I believed this could offer me a new kind of comprehension of global opportunities. I was also looking forward to building connections with colleagues from my host institute and experiencing first-hand how they approached their work and how their daily working life looked like. Secondly, the fact that the institute was in Gothenburg, Sweden appealed to me as I felt that the new context could offer me unique insights into the research field of Digital productions in real scale industry.

On a personal level, I also believed doing my internship abroad could provide me with the challenge and room for growth offered by new and different surroundings and the opportunity to meet new people. I knew Gothenburg has a beautiful historical center and I was excited to explore the architecture and history of the city. After several months of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I found the prospect of new experiences especially energizing and fulfilling.

During my internship I was entrusted with a research project on Computer vison for overhead cameras and AGVs and received the opportunity to work as a researcher with doctorate students and professors from Chalmers University, Gothenburg. Research projects provided me with extremely enriching and fulfilling experiences, in which I learned even more than I could have imagined.

Within the scope of the multiple projects, I explored different methodologies to be able to quantify effectiveness of ARTags- Apriltags, ArucoTags considering light effects, occlusions, speed of detection and tracking. This entailed discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each tags with my team members, critically reviewing and presenting about previous research and learning to practically apply the methods. I worked on strategies for image fusion from multiple cameras and segmentation models as well as computer vision for distributed systems.

Besides cultivating fundamental research competencies, I also developed various soft skills. I cultivated professional and communication skills by interacting with colleagues on a daily basis and working closely together with team members. In doing so, I learned a great amount from my colleagues and their experiences. I both received the opportunity to hold presentations but could also attend lectures given by my colleagues to directly learn from them how to communicate ideas and research findings in an optimized way. I also learned when it was important to ask for help from others and became more confident in taking initiative and contributing my own ideas to the project. By juggling between different tasks and projects, I was able to improve my time management skills and set priorities to become more organized. This also helped me to optimize my work efficiency but also recognize my limits and learn to communicate if I wouldn’t be able to finish a task in the allotted time.

I very much appreciate the large amount of support I received from my host IAESTE and Volvo. I met with my supervisors at least twice a week, sometimes even more frequently and they took a lot of time to guide me and integrate me into the working group as much as possible. My supervisor also often asked me for my opinion and my ideas, which I cannot thank her enough for. Being able to voice my own thoughts and viewpoints proved to be an invaluable opportunity to self-sufficient and independent creative thinking.

Finding accommodation in Gothenburg was most likely one of the most difficult parts of my stay abroad. It was very difficult to find an apartment through online websites from Germany – most of them were in Swedish, many proved to be scams and non-existent and the rest were very expensive. My host institute and IAESTE Gothenburg helped me. My advice would be to start searching for accommodation as early as possible and ask for help from others who are living there.

All of my colleagues at the Volvo trucks are very welcoming and friendly, allowing me to feel completely included and happy during my time there. I gained the opportunity to meet and spend time with many new people. I learned a great amount from them and cherish the memories I have with them. I did get the chance to meet many local people outside of my internship and I was still able to explore a large amount of the city life and surrounding areas with my colleagues, which made me feel more connected to the place I was living in.

 © Gaurav Makwana

© Gaurav Makwana

In my free time, I would meet with friends from my work and explore the city. I enjoyed going on bike and scooter rides, exploring islands, visiting different historical sites, going to local cafes and restaurants to enjoy FIKA culture, finding the tastiest croissants and travelling to nearby cities or villages. Gothenburg is also close to the sea so I would strongly recommend to head down to all islands and go hiking and swimming there in some of the bluest cold waters you can find. I found the public transport system in Sweden to be very useful for short trips and affordable.

The living costs were in my experience higher in Gothenburg, as compared to Germany. I am therefore very grateful to Erasmus+ for giving me the opportunity to pursue an internship abroad and financially supporting me.

I attended an intercultural seminar and found this to be very helpful to get into a mindset that allows you to make the most out of your time abroad. It also teaches you that any difficulty or hardship that you face in the process can be a valuable learning opportunity. For these reasons, I would recommend it to other students, especially those who have never been abroad before or are looking to gain new insights and perspectives onto their upcoming journey.

My studies and previous research experiences provided me with foundational tools and background knowledge that I could draw from throughout my internship. By being able to apply these skills and competencies, I was able to strengthen and build on to them. This allowed me to cultivate essential research skills and grow confidence in putting them to practice.

Due to the rewarding and fulfilling experience I had during my internship, I feel highly motivated to pursue my studies and to maximize the insights I gain from my courses and professors. The experience also incentivized a future career in Computer vision and Digital manufacturing. Through my internship I realized how important it is to approach a digitalization topic from different angles and perspectives in order to fully understand it and to be able to implement efficient and safety policy measures aiming to mitigate the problems. This taught me how diverse the field can be and how important it is to think creatively and maintain an open mindset for learning from others, regardless of the stage you are in in your career. This reinforced and strengthened my motivation for pursuing a career in global Digitalization strategies.

In summary, while my expectations that I would learn a great amount about the field of Computer vision and develop professionally were fulfilled, my experience abroad also turned out to be very enriching on a personal level – far more than I had anticipated. During my time in Gothenburg, the new people I met, the unique and historical surroundings of the city and the positive and challenging experiences I was confronted with paved the way for growth and self-development. It also made me more open and adaptable to setbacks and helped shift my perspectives to ones in which I could more easily cope with and learn from mistakes.

I believe challenges during an experience abroad are inevitable but that they ultimately prove to be valuable learning opportunities. As eliminating them is not an option: to reduce problems, I believe it is important to plan as much as possible. In my opinion, however, it is more important to anticipate that unexpected outcomes, both good and bad, are bound to come your way and that the way you deal with them will shape your experience.

If you receive the opportunity to do an internship at the firm like Volvo for Research, I would highly recommend to grab the chance. Volvo for Research is a very open-minded and welcoming institution, tailored towards international cooperation. It is a place that fosters growth and openness. I am very thankful that I was able to spend my ten month internship there and would like to express my sincere gratitude to my supervisor and colleagues at the Volvo trucks, as well as to those at RWTH Aachen supporting the Erasmus+ traineeships abroad.

Building a metro tunnel under the city of Göteborg

November 15th, 2022 | by
  • Business Administration and Engineering: Civil Engineering M.Sc.
  • Göteborg, Sweden
  • Wayss & Freytag Ingenieurbau AG
  • 06.04.2022 – 07.10.2022


1. Application/Finding an internship
During the pandemic and especially the lockdown I decided that I want to do an internship abroad. A fellow student recommended me an internship with Wayss & Freytag Ingenieurbau AG in Göteborg, Sweden. Because I always wanted to explore the Scandinavian region, I knew that would be a great opportunity. After two video calls with the responsible site manager, I got the positive feedback to go there during the summer semester and directly applied for the Erasmus scholarship. For the internship I would recommend applying at least 3 months ahead. It is important that you apply for the Erasmus scholarship at least six weeks before the internship starts. For that scholarship you need to do an EU survey and an OLS language test. The most critical part is the Online Learning Agreement (OLA), where you need signatures from all parties involved.

2. Accommodation & Living expenses
The accommodation was provided by the company. It was a small but very well-equipped apartment in Frihamnen. Even though Frihamnen is on the northern site of the river, I liked the location because the city center is reachable within 10 min bike ride and the public transport is very good. The apartment complex is called ‘waterfront cabins’. They have long- and short-term renting. When visiters came from Germany, they could book them via Airbnb for an affordable price. Otherwise the living expenses are higher than back home. Especially living costs are from what I have heard quite high and for foreigners difficult to get. For renting an accommodation, Sweden is dividing into first and second hand contracts. As a foreigner you can only get second hand contracts, which basically means temporary sublease. The daily expenses are a bit higher, but obviously depends on where you go. For grocery stores I enjoyed going to Lidl. Not only for some German stuff, but also the price/performance is great. From my point of view going out is quite expensive. Clubs usually cost at least 200 SEK (= 20 €) entry fee. Also eating in restaurants or having some drinks in a bar is pricy. As a reference point: 0,4l beer costs in between 45-90 SEK. Again, it really depends on where you go.

3. Everyday life/ the internship
The German company Wayss & Freytag is building a metro tunnel under the city as part of the “West Link” (Västlänken) project in Göteborg. Västlänken is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Scandinavia. During my internship I was stationed as a project engineer on the construction site in Liseberg. The tunnel line of this site is going to be around 300m long. One of the biggest difficulties is a river going through the construction pit, which makes a lot of heavy foundation works necessary. For that I was mainly supporting the site managers and sometimes the supervisors in the production. I was responsible for the short-term planning as well as different documentary and design tasks. The team I worked with was young and super friendly from the beginning. I got along with them very quickly and we started doing stuff after work and on the weekends immediately. That helped a lot to get along in a new country with a new language. Because the joint venture partner is a Swedish company (NCC), it was roughly 50% Swedish and 50% German speaking coworkers. That made the cultural exchange super interesting. I really enjoyed the work atmosphere with all the colleagues, even though the work attitude/ethic between German and Swedish people may differ. The company also organized afterworks or Friday-breakfasts on a regular basis. One highlight was the summer party. I think those events are helping a lot for team building purposes and gives you a different connection with your coworkers – besides it was very fun. 😉

4. Free time/tips
After work I usually did sports (paddle, running or boulder) with coworkers. During the warm summer months, we sometimes went for a swim in one of the beautiful lakes or the ocean. On the weekends I tried to explore the surroundings of Göteborg. Whether the archipelago near Göteborg or the stunning nature inland, there is so much to discover. Kayaking, hiking or go fishing were only a few activities. Some of my German colleagues started kite surfing or sailing. The opportunities of outdoor activities are just amazing. Göteborg as a city has everything you can imagine. There are clubs and bars, museums, parks and a lot of nice cafes. We often went to the street food market in Lindholmen for a ‘Fika’. If you are looking for a bar with affordable drinks, Tullen’s or Café Magazinete is recommendable. TaKeT is a rooftop bar with an amazing view over the river and one of my favorite places in a sunny afternoon. For weekend excursions, Göteborg is located in a triangle between Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm. All three destinations are reachable within 4 hours drive. There is a fast Flixtrain connection to Swedens capital. For Copenhagen and Oslo distance buses are recommended, as they are usually cheaper than train connections. One of the biggest highlights was spending traditional Midsummer in a Swedish summer house. The amount of daylight in the summer was an excellent experience.


© Johannes Bennewitz

© Johannes Bennewitz










5. Conclusion
In summary, I can say that I absolutely benefited from the internship in many ways. Not only to getting to know the Scandinavian culture and the way of how a big infrastructure project works, but I also made a lot of new friends. For me personally I loved Göteborg as well as the Swedish nature and I will certainly be going there many more times in the future. I can highly recommend the internship program at Wayss & Freytag and I’m proud to be part of the Västlänken project.