Summer Internship with Institute of Nuclear Science, Ankara University — Gaurav from Manipal Institute of Technology

Daily Winner for: –  15th August 2012

Name of the intern: –  Gaurav

Institute: –  Manipal Institute of Technology

Organization interned with: –  Institute of Nuclear Science, Ankara University

‘Turkish Odyssey’ – My first day at college and I spot this gigantic poster on the food court wall. Flaunting every pixel in every corner of its canvas and with every letter of “IAESTE” getting imprinted into my mind, I slowly and gradually soaked in the meaning of this unknown organization. Well, it was quite self-explanatory as the photo of almost every flag that accompanied the IAESTE logo complemented the purpose of this organization – Merit based internships abroad with a hefty stipend. IAESTE membership came with a risk – it’s a 4000 Rupees membership that does not guarantee an internship. I had a very crucial decision to make, either spend those 4000 Rupees on an organization that offers a dream internship or go the hackneyed way of spending money on booze and girls. I really thank my stars that I went with the former one.

Second year dawned upon me and came with it the pressure of searching for internships. But wait, I already had a membership of IAESTE that could get me an internship, right? Yes and maybe. I underwent the cumbersome procedure of the IAESTE application and tried my luck in February of 2011. Results were out and walah, I was the only 2nd year student to get through. I had secured an internship in Ankara University with (this is the best part) a stipend of Rs 33,000 for two months. 15th December, 2012 was my touchdown on Turkish soil and 8 hour flight definitely had taken a toll on me. Turkish hospitality and cuisine was on the cards for me on the first day with my roommates taking me around the neighbourhood for some Turkish delights. The next day was supposed to be the day I had waited for almost 2 years – start of my foreign internship. Ankara University was huge – having three campuses housing more than 15 faculties. Institute of Nuclear Science was located in a very docile and quite area of the campus. As a first impression, it looked more like a clean and maintained government hospital but once I was inside, my impression took a U-turn on the latter first impression. It was an accumulation of labs, labs and more labs. It took me precisely 2 hours to go through each and every lab and finally settle down in my chamber (yes they gave me a personal chamber next to the HOD’s cabin). The faculty was young and dynamic, each having an expertise in some field or the other. In a nutshell my job was to learn and test all the x-ray machines, mammography and fluoroscopy machines in the institute. Further, I was supposed to develop a graphic user interface (GUI) to test the x-ray quality of images.

The technical aspect of the internship was definitely demanding, but achieving the task gave me a sense of satisfaction that no other achievement has ever given me. Weekends were off, so that gave me time to look around the city and explore what this ex-Ottoman empire territory had to offer. For a fact Turkish people resemble Indians a lot in their facial features, hair colour and eyes so it felt more at home. Language was a barrier but the fun of communicating in sign language is un-comparable. Ankara was a small village town that had recently been urbanized and still echoed the bucolic ways of life. The food culture was traditional Turkish with meat and bread as the favourite food. The temperature was dipping below 0 even during the days and was thwarting my efforts to explore more and more. I had to go to a place where temperature was much warmer and suitable for tourists. This led me to Istanbul. Istanbul visit was during the Christmas weekend and festivities were high. Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar and the Bosphorous ferry was on my “must visit” list for Istanbul. The paintings on the mosque wall and the gardens surrounding the monuments reminded me of mughal craftsmanship. Bosphorous ferry was simply marvellous.

With Asia on side of the strait and Europe on the other, the view on the Bosphorous strait is un-explainable. Skype with parents increased the essence of my feelings. Night Life in Istanbul is famous for its lights and no vehicle policy. Just a river of human beings on a narrow lane in suburban Istanbul is sufficient to arouse the night life bug in any human. Conning is common in Istanbul and I almost became a victim of it until I got some sense into my head. I had thoroughly enjoyed my Istanbul experience and wanted more. But Ankara was calling me back! Both of my roommates were Kazakh Turks so I enjoyed the cultural diversity of two nations during my stay.

The last day of 2011 was very special and different. Instead of spending the evening in the freezing cold outside, my roommates and I decided to welcome the New Year with some traditional Kazakh cuisine. It was a salad (and a heavy one indeed) combining meat, fruits, vegetables and a special sauce that they prepared. The memory of all of us ushering in the New Year together is still vivid in my mind. 2012 dawned in and with it increased my work load as well. To be precise I was working overtime during work and was also occupied during the weekend trying to get the GUI up and running. The institute professors were some of the passionate people I have met during my academic life. They were genuine in their approach to work and tried to bend down to basic levels in order to discuss a problem. Prof Ozlem Birgul, the vice director of the institute, was more of a friend than teacher. She was the guiding light for my GUI development and also an advisor to my tourist endeavours. Thus with her help I undertook another short trip to the volcanic region of Cappadocia. Cappadocia was 5 hours from Ankara, and I must say that the bus journey was marvellous. Their buses felt like aeroplanes, both in terms of speed and service. I reached Cappadocia on the morning of 8th January and was left on an isolated bus stand at 5 am. This was not a good start. I was freezing to death and there was not a living creature around. Finally after one hour of agonizing frustration, I could take help of a tea vendor and contact my tour company. Cave hotels are a specialty of the Cappadocian region and I was treated to this specialty. After a quick bath, I was out again to explore another region of this culturally rich country. Primarily Cappadocia offers a lot of valleys and cave houses dating back to the ancient era. Rock formations, referred to as “angels” are a delight for the eyes and ceramic structures add to the beauty. Trekking through the rose valley, visiting the open air museum and tasting the famous “baklava” were the icing on the cake. Finally, the amazing Cappadocian experience came to an end but the memories still remain crystal clear in my mind.

Back to Ankara and my project was almost getting done. Hours of patience paid off when my GUI was finally accepted on 14th January with a remark from my professor that still echoes in my ears ” …well done buddy, only an Indian can do such a work in such a short time”. I had not only made a good impression of myself at the institute but also made every Indian famous for their hard work. My stipend took me by surprise as it came on the last day of work. The first buy from my first salary was a bucket full of chocolates. The days of saving for trips, skipping meals to save for an expensive delicacy or walking few miles instead of taking a bus just to buy a souvenir were over!! I treated myself to almost everything edible I could find in the shops, from donner kebabs to baklavas, biscuits, cookies and Turkish tea; everything had just one destination to reach – my stomach. On the last day, I had mixed emotions. I did not want to leave this amazing country but I also did not want to stay away from my homeland. Biding adieu to my roommates who presented me with a Kazakh camel replica, I left for the airport in a local bus. I had a huge smile on my face that reflected my emotions. Visiting Turkey was one-in-a-million chance that I got and surely I lived it to the fullest of my satisfaction. The people, the food, the culture and the rich heritage all combined together in these two months, gave me the most unforgettable experience of my life.

Landing at the Bombay airport, I had a feeling of satisfaction and pride. I went to Ankara as an ambitious intern with a goal to be better than the best. However the internship gave me much more than just academic satisfaction. As St Augustine has said, ” The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only one page”, I feel I have turned a page ahead in the book of my life and wish to turn many more in the years to come.

Was this interesting? If yes, please like the post on Facebook (below) and help Gaurav become winner of the week and win the prize (Rs. 1,000/-) that he truly deserves!


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