February 1, 2024, by ppyab15
Completing a summer internship abroad: My experience and advice
By Anna Beer, physics student
Embarking on a nine-week summer internship in Trondheim, Norway, brought its share of challenges and experiences. From the initial housing hunt to settling into a new work environment, making friends, and exploring the landscapes. Every step of the journey offered practical lessons and lasting memories.
Before arrival: housing and visas
Securing accommodation was a significant pre-departure hurdle. With no company assistance, finding a place to stay for the entire internship took about two months. Persistence paid off despite some setbacks. My advice: start early, explore platforms like Airbnb (or utilise country-specific short-term rental platforms), and use local Facebook groups for housing (which ultimately helped me secure mine). Also, be ready to put down a deposit. My parents were kind enough to help me with this, but it’s usually about one month’s rent.
Addressing visa requirements was another essential aspect. Fortunately, with dual citizenship, thanks to my Norwegian mother, I avoided the visa hassle. For others, understanding and adhering to their country’s rules is crucial.
Upon arrival: facing the initial challenges
While excitement filled the lead-up to the move, arriving in Norway for a nine-week stint felt very overwhelming – I got in my room and cried. Having my sister around for the initial days provided the support I needed and meant I didn’t have to explore the new city alone. It’s normal to feel anxious in a new place, and seeking comfort from those you trust is perfectly OK. Thankfully, after the first day, I felt much more settled in and regained my enthusiasm for the upcoming nine weeks.
The first day at the research lab brought a mix of anxiety and excitement. English proficiency among my colleagues allowed for easy communication, and the welcoming environment made for a positive start. With only one table available during lunch, the stress of deciding where to sit and whom to sit with was eased, and it allowed me to socialise with everyone in my department. The day focused on introductions, a tour, setting up accounts, and a thoughtful welcome gift, making it a solid beginning to the internship.
Having a social life
Making friends in a new place was challenging, especially initially. Being comfortable in my own company was crucial (something I worked on during my time there). Engaging in hobbies and activities I enjoyed helped build connections. Personally, I enjoy running, hiking, and swimming, which led to a friendship with a fellow intern who also appreciated the outdoors. We took part in several adventures together, including participating in the Trondheim 10k.
Other social activities I did during my internship included spending a weekend with my brother who had recently moved to Norway and lived about three hours away from me. Taking advantage of the convenience of short internal flights to visit extended family and having friends come and visit me in Norway. There were also a few work drinks, and I enjoyed time with my housemates (although they were a bit older), engaging in activities like movie nights and watching sunsets together. Exploring local sports clubs or volunteering can also help meet new people and is something I would do if I were to go again.
I also experienced moments of homesickness and FOMO (fear of missing out) when my friends were enjoying their summer plans, but the trade-off was undoubtedly worthwhile. In the end, I had an incredible experience during my internship abroad and would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone considering the opportunity!
Have you secured a work placement abroad or maybe you’re thinking about doing one? Visit the Careers and Employability Service website which provides useful insights and guidance under their ‘Opportunities outside the UK’ section, or book a careers appointment.
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