Daily Winner for: – 23rd August 2013
Name of the intern: – Sriram Sundar
Institute: – College Of Engineering, Guindy
Organization interned with: – University Of Stuttgart, Germany
This summer, I interned at the University of Stuttgart, and believe me when I say that it was one of the best experiences of my life. I managed to get the DAAD WISE stipend to fund my stay in Germany. The whole process took almost a year and I started the application procedure way back in July 2012! The tricky part was getting a letter of invitation from a German professor, as well as completing the myriad of paperwork required for obtaining the scholarship. Disaster loomed large, when student strikes erupted across Tamil Nadu in April, and my internship came under threat because of changes to my academic schedule. It appeared as if interning wasn’t really my thing, after a horrifying experience in 2011(which I would rather not get into). By some strange miracle, everything got sorted by the end of the month.
It was only after I landed in Stuttgart, that I knew for sure that the internship was going to happen. The weather wasn’t very welcoming, with heavy rains and floods in different parts of Germany. Settling in was the hardest part and thankfully I had friends who got there before me, to help me with the process. If it weren’t for them I honestly wouldn’t have made it through the initial days. Stuttgart as some of you might know is the home of Mercedes Benz and Porsche. Being an automobile enthusiast, settling into a city where the streets are over-run by SLS AMGs and 911 Carreras, can’t be all that difficult.
I worked at the Institute for Manufacturing Technologies of Ceramic Components and Composites, and the people at the institute were from different parts of the world, Spain, Italy, Estonia, Iran, Egypt , Algeria and Moldova to name a few. My 8th grade Geography classes weren’t as helpful as I thought they would be, and I had to Google some of the countries just to make sure where they were! Meeting all these people was what made this internship so special, to learn about different cultures, dispel stereotypes and find out what people think about their own countries and cultures.
I worked five days a week, and was involved in some Experimental work related to Thermal Spray Coating, as well as in developing a new program to control a positioning device. The infrastructure at my institute was miles ahead of that back home and the time I spent in the laboratory was very fruitful. The work overall was pretty light, although I had to work late occasionally. My guide was from Spain, and there was a bit of a communication gap, but he was so patient, that it became insignificant. The only thing I could not come to terms with was their punctuality. I would almost always be the last one to turn up for work and initially when someone asked me what time I would arrived, I replied “around 10”. Being an Indian college student you will know that this is the safest answer when someone asks you the time, because it can mean anything from 9 to 11, but sadly the Germans require more precision! But I didn’t really have any time table, so I could show up and leave whenever I wanted. The amazing part about this was that, I still managed to complete the tasks given to me while working minimum hours.
The most exciting parts of my two month internship, were my weekend trips to different parts of Europe. I can now proudly say that I have been lost in six different countries. In a span of 5 weeks, I visited France, Belgium, Netherlands and Switzerland. The Eurail pass came in handy, and the rail network was beyond my wildest imaginations. After struggling with the IRCTC website for several hours before being able to book a ticket, the ticket vending machines came as a pleasant surprise.
I also managed to fine tune my culinary skills, having spent 2 months cooking my own dinner. Needless to say there were many failed experiments. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have thrown out all the packets of Maggi from my suitcase before leaving, maybe then I would have returned with all my fingers intact. Note to self: Knives are as sharp as people claim them to be.
Over the two months, I have visited the Eiffel Tour, the Berlin Wall, the Louvre, the Atomium, the Swiss Alps, the infamous parts of Amsterdam and several other noteworthy places. But in a few years, when I look back I am more likely to remember being homeless at midnight in Brussels, going on a tour with a guy dressed in a fairy costume and a pink wig in Amsterdam, boarding the wrong train in Switzerland (7 euros down the drain), staying in a shady neighborhood in Paris, going all the way to edge of the city to see the Allianz Arena and the Roland Garros, almost missing my return flight from Frankfurt and having a drink with Bastian Schweinsteiger. (It could have been a random German guy with a Schweinsteiger jersey, but hey! I would like to think it was him).
When I set off to Germany, I had only one unrealistic expectation, to be able to speak fluent German in 2 months! The reality, however, was that I learned to speak English with a bad accent. In fact the only German I do remember is “Prost”, although I do not recollect many of the events that followed the Prost.
P.S: If you ever plan on interning in Germany, make sure you know what Prost means!
Was this interesting? If yes, please hit the ‘Like’ button below and help Sriram become the winner of the month and win the prize (Rs. 5,000/-) that he truly deserves!
If you wish to participate, send in your entry here: http://www.internshala.com/your-internship-story