About the Author: Guruswamy Revana, an associate professor, shares insightful details from his internship endeavors in Taiwan and how the experience gave him some great memories.
It all started when I saw the post of Elite internship on Internshala. I was doing part-time Ph.D. along with working as an associate professor at BVRIT College of Engineering for Women, Hyderabad. The Elite internship is offered by National Chiao Tung University (NCTU), Taiwan, and to my surprise, I was eligible for it. The only problem was that one needed to have an agreement letter from the professor of the university. I took it as an opportunity to interact with the professors there. Before that, I took permission of my guide; he was surprised to know about internship programs for research scholars and encouraged me to apply. After doing a fair bit of research, I made a list of 20 professors who were working in my area of interest, electrical engineering. Then, I started working on my CV and made it better after including all the relevant details. Next, I sent emails to all those professors with my CV and cover letter. I also sent a proposal for the research that I wished to do on ‘A micro capacitive vibration energy harvester for low power electronics’.
I was anxiously waiting for a reply but didn’t hear from any of them. Finally, after few weeks, I received a reply from Prof. Yi Chu. He was interested in taking me as an intern. I forwarded his email to my research guide along with my complete application. He approved it and signed on my application. I also received the letter of agreement from the professor in the next email. So I had the complete hard copy set of the documents that I was required to send to Office of International Affairs, NCTU, Taiwan. After a couple of months, I finally received the official email from NCTU stating that my application had been accepted for a two-month internship. The mail also mentioned the place of my stay – Dormitory D. I was overwhelmed with joy and informed it to our HOD and college principal. With the visa formalities and ticket booking done, I was all set to start my new adventure.
I boarded the flight from Hyderabad to Taiwan, with a four-hour halt at Hong Kong. Finally, I reached the capital city, Taipei. All of a sudden, the immigration officers stopped me after scanning my bag. I was afraid and couldn’t understand what was wrong with my luggage. They showed a small box in the LCD of the scanner and informed me to take it out from the bag. I was tensed before I noticed that they were referring to my “Mysore Sandal Soap”. They smelled it and asked me with a smile if I was from India. I felt relieved and smiled in affirmation! The Taipei airport was full of orchids; it felt more like a garden than an airport. A friend of mine was working at a university in Taiwan and had helped me in the visa process. He came to pick me at the airport too and took me to a railway station first where we boarded a bullet train. I asked him many questions about the country’s culture during the travel. We reached a city called Tsinchu from where we boarded a bus to reach the university. I found Taiwan to be very neat and clean. After finishing the basic formalities, I moved to the dormitory. My room in the dormitory had four people, all from different countries. My roommates were friendly and hailed from France, Pakistan, and Vietnam.
The following morning, I visited the lab and found the place really interesting. One guy even had a pet tortoise in the lab! After discussing with my professor, I was given the topic “Energy Harvesters” which help to generate power for MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems), for my project. I was also told to learn COMSOL software. Every Thursday I had to meet him and present the progress of the work. I also had to fill a form based on intellectual property rights for the confidentiality purposes. On the first weekend, I explored the huge university. There were four swimming pools with well-maintained running tracks and a beautiful pond. The sports facility was splendid with a well-equipped modernized gym. Next, I went to a nearby Zoo and the local Sunday market. The days passed by, I improved my skills in the software and started working on my project. The presentations with the professor were going well and at every meet, he discussed the work for the following week. Meanwhile, I met few Indian students who had come for the same Elite internship; I was the only one from a non-IIT background. I also attended a few workshops in my domain area of power electronics in the nearby National Tsung Hua University (NTHU). It was all in Chinese language but they translated the material for my sake into English!
One day, I decided to visit the beach without any route map on my roommate’s bicycle. I started in the evening and took the help of the people I met on the way. The beach was around seven kilometres far. Though most Taiwanese people didn’t know English, they used translational tool to help me. Finally, I reached the beach and spent a lot of time on that clear stretch. Thanks to a good cycling track, I burnt calories while enjoying the surrounding biodiversity. The university’s international students association also organized a gathering where I was able to meet people from various countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam, Spain, USA, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Iraq etc.
Finally, the day came when I had to give the final presentation on my project. The supervisor was quite happy with the work as I had submitted all the required software files successfully. I did a lot of shopping and my luggage almost tripled than what I had initially brought! And after another long flight, I was home! This experience gave me some really great memories that I’ll always cherish.
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Editor’s note – If you also have an interesting story to share, you can now participate in Your Internship Story Contest 2017 and win cash prizes and goodies worth INR 1 Lac!