Intern Abroad

Kategorie: ‘Materials and Process 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.

Go abroad. Go to Sweden.

December 13th, 2022 | by
  • Business Administration and Engineering: Materials and Process Engineering B.Sc.
  • Sweden, Helsingborg
  • RKW Sweden AB
  • April – October 2022


Ah, what a great summer…looking back now, it feels more like a big vacation than a semester of working. Maybe because I did so many great after- work activities, maybe because my internship itself was nice or maybe because now this time is over and it is winter in Germany. 🙂

I arrived in the middle of April and at first, things started off medium well. My room, rented by the company, was in the basement of a villa with quite a few alcoholics in the building. They were all nice to me, but this was something new and scary to me. Over time and with changing apartment mates it got better, but the first months were a bit hard because I did not feel at home there.  Here we already have a few learnings about Sweden; first, almost nobody in Sweden rents apartments, so rental websites are a bit weird and mostly people in unstable points of their lives or students rent apartments. Also, Sweden has super strict laws and crazy prizes when it comes to alcohol, you are for example not allowed to drink alcohol on the street.

Let’s get to a more fun topic, work 😉 For me, working at a Swedish location of a German company was great. The atmosphere was good, the people were really nice and everyone spoke English well. Another great thing about Sweden is, how far it is in all terms of equality. If I was a woman or a man, the site management or the little intern, I felt like everyone was equally important and valuable. This is not the case in all companies or countries and so it was very interesting to have the many times stressed and not so relaxed German part of the company in comparison to the Swedish part I was working at.

If you want to experience a great working atmosphere, try working in Sweden. 🙂

One thing about the chill atmosphere, which almost irritated me, was the amount of Fika (coffee breaks) they take. Sometimes 45 minutes per day made me feel a bit unproductive, but many of my colleagues there were very comfortable with that. Another thing I had heard about before, is the swedes awkwardness when it comes to small talk. My own experience was, that if you have any connection to the person, small talk is fine and they will be really nice. They won’t go out of their way for you, like speak English during the entire lunch because you don’t speak Swedish, but someone will try to integrate you a bit. If they don’t know you at all, they will try not to talk to you at all, in public for example.

I did have a bit of problems in the beginning to get involved socially, but through my hobby sailing, some colleagues and Facebook, things slowly picked up. Facebook is actually one of my biggest recommendations for anyone going to Sweden. If you are trying to rent an apartment, inform yourself on clubs or social groups. If you want to find friends, look there. What works really well is hiking groups. I found that the people there are usually very open, come from everywhere and on top of that you are exploring the area. What happened to me is that one girl saw one of my hiking plans in one group, texted me and we became friends. We even made a trip to Stockholm together in the last weeks of my time in Sweden!

Now let’s come to my specific Skåne recommendations:

© Kuhlmann, Selma

© Kuhlmann, Selma

-Kallbadhusets, beautiful saunas at the sea, where you can switch between bathing in the cold sea and sitting in the sauna. Very relaxing and not very expensive. (about the price for a cup of beer in Sweden;))

-Venn island in the middle of the Öresund, a beautiful place with fun yellow tandem bikes for exploring the nature.

-Kullaberg. An awesome hiking spot northern of Helsingborg.

-The bakery två systras in Helsingbog. They have a lot of awesome traditional Swedish Fikabröd like Kardemummabullar or Vaniljhjärta. My personal cake favorite: the Budapest.

-The Vasa museum in Stockholm. We were also a bit unsure of going because it does cost some money, but it was all worth it. Such an interesting and greatly made museum!

My conclusion: Go abroad. Go to Sweden. Start somewhere new. Learn more about yourself.

My experiences in Bristol

August 25th, 2022 | by
  • Electrical Engineering, Information Technology and Computer Engineering (M.Sc.)
  • United Kingdom, Bristol
  • Infineon Technologies U.K. Ltd.
  • March 2022 – August 2022


I lived in Bristol for five months as part of the UNITECH programme. The programme aims to connect engineering students with each other and with companies and to promote the development of soft skills. Part of the programme is a semester abroad at one of the participating universities in Europe and an internship at one of the companies. I decided to do an internship at Infineon Technologies UK Ltd., which at the same time covered the industrial internship I had planned in my Master’s programme.

Through the UNITECH programme, I already had direct contact with Infineon’s HR department, which meant that there was no need for a traditional application process. I wanted to do the internship in a non-German-speaking European country and work on both technical and non-technical tasks. Therefore, a position in the sales area in Bristol was suggested to me, which I accepted after a discussion with my future supervisor.

© Maike van den Berg

© Maike van den Berg

I was paid like a graduate student for the internship, which in my eyes was a high salary for an intern by German standards, but not necessarily for young professionals. The funding of the internship as an Erasmus+ internship was especially helpful when applying for a visa.

Because of the Brexit, I needed a visa to be able to work in the UK. The process – as mentioned above – was greatly simplified by the Erasmus funding. I applied for a Tier 5 visa with the help of the RWTH. I had to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship from the British Council, with the RWTH as the sending institution and the company as the receiving/host institution. With this Certificate of Sponsorship, I was then able to apply for the visa online.

I found a room in a shared house in Bristol through SpareRoom, which is similar to WG Gesucht. Living in Bristol is very expensive and I was lucky to find something affordable close to the city centre. Right at the beginning I bought a British prepaid card (ASDA Mobile) so that I could then open a bank account. It was all done online and I went to Lloyds Bank.

My experience in Bristol can be divided very well into professional and private.

© Maike van den Berg

© Maike van den Berg

The internship didn’t really live up to my expectations, partly due to the fact that my supervisor left the company a few weeks after the start of the internship and there was no real replacement, and partly due to the office culture at Infineon in Bristol. Due to the restructuring following the termination of my supervisor, I often lacked a direct contact person and received little feedback on my work despite repeated requests. This was depressing, especially because I had no experience in the sales field and was therefore often somewhat disoriented. However, the internship also included technical projects, which I enjoyed much more and which made me feel more comfortable in the team. In addition, there was little active social life in my office and most of my colleagues were much older than me. Even though I had consistently good experiences in direct contact, no real personal relationships were formed.

These rather disillusioning experiences were more than made up for by everything outside of work! Through my housemates, I had a lot of contact with people my own age locally. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to join any societies at the university because I would have had to be a local student, but I did find a basketball team and made friends through it.

I found Bristol to be a great place to live. It’s a very progressive city with a great arts and culture scene and lots of concerts, some of which are free. There is an almost endless choice of vegan restaurants and many local ciders and beers. The harbour in the city adds to the atmosphere and there are many beautiful parks for warm summer evenings (I was very lucky with the weather during my time there!). Also, the proximity to Wales offers many opportunities for beautiful hikes in the hilly countryside. Unfortunately, the national parks there are not so easy to reach by public transport, so we often rented a car privately via Karshare.

Compared to Germany, the UK is more expensive in all areas. The cost of living was quite high and I found public transport especially expensive.

© Maike van den Berg

© Maike van den Berg

That’s why I bought a bicycle right at the beginning, which saved me a lot of expensive bus rides.

I am more than happy that I was able to do the internship in Bristol! The internship itself probably helped me the most in that I now know what is important to me in a future job and how I would (not) like to work. At the same time, of course, the insight into a large company was also interesting, as it gave me the opportunity to work with a wide variety of people at Infineon’s different locations.

Everything aside from the internship was what particularly enriched my time in Bristol. I found the British people I met to be incredibly friendly and open and I felt like I was living in a city where many things are possible.

My internship abroad in Barcelona

December 21st, 2021 | by
  • Materialwissenschaft und Werkstofftechnik
  • Spain, Barcelona
  • BSport
  • 01.03.2021-05.07.2021


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.


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.


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.