This summer has been an epic summer for me -- as I spent the entirety of it in Germany, which I didn't even had the slightest clue on going there a year ago.
It all started when my supervisor had to take her maternity leave (congrats again) this summer, and figured that it would be a good idea for me to go for some sort of internship, instead of idling in the lab. Coincidentally my lab is part of an exchange partnership program, and it was a natural outcome that I could benefit from this arrangement. So I began with arranging my flight, travelling documents, accommodation, finance -- all sorts of things, and was grateful that I had received enough help from the contact over Magdeburg.
So on 14 Mar 2012 I travelled all the way from Waterloo across the North Atlantic Ocean to Magdeburg.
It was my first time setting foot on Europe and the experience was really different from other places that I've been to. The train ride was really great as I could see a lot of crop fields (and even cows!) during the ride.
The people at U of Magdeburg were very friendly and decided to show me around the city from time to time (special thanks to Martin and Jens). One thing I was particularly grateful to was the fact that many locals there didn't speak English, so my friends often accompanied me to various offices for paper work.
The first highlight was my brother came to visit me during Easter. I was extremely glad that he came by and we met up in a foreign country. I'd say that was the best 2.5 days during my stay.
The second highlight was I met up with my colleague in Munich for another 2.5 days. It was my first time taking such a long train ride with 1 connection. I was quite nervous but was glad that I made it.
The third highlight was a good friend of mine came and visit me with her family for a day during their big Europe trip. This time I was well prepared and became the host to show them around.
The fourth highlight was a PhD student here had his defense done and showed me the Magdeburg way of celebrating it. It was very original.
Though not a fan of travelling, I did manage to get around Germany from time to time. It was quite an experience and I was constantly amazed by the reachability of the train system -- essentially you can get to any places, including neighboring countries by train.
Of course I didn't forget my main job here was to do research.
I've worked with a few people here and I have to say I've learned a lot. Not just from them but from the way things were being done. There were times when it was very dreadful and tension everywhere. But I did appreciate that people were very responsible for what they have promised.
Overall I'm glad that I did this internship. More things could have been done if the hosting professor wasn't moving and I was more agressive. But the conversation and interaction I made there definitely inspired me in many ways.