How to do a Summer Placement
My placement finishes in just over a week. I can’t believe I’ve already been here for nine weeks – the whole thing has gone by incredibly quickly! While I’m looking forward to seeing all my friends back at University again, I’m really going to miss Bamberg. But here is a (slightly preemptive) blog about what I’ve learned, and what I’d like to have known three months ago. If you’re reading this because you’re considering doing a placement with DAAD in the future, I’d definitely definitely recommend applying – I think this may have been the best summer of my life.
The sensible part:
It’s worth picking a placement scheme with a decent number of people involved (like DAAD) – this helps you settle in to the social side of living abroad and meet other students, as well as providing more of a support network.
Go somewhere you will enjoy being, as well as working. I got this one a little wrong two years ago, when I did a (really great) placement in the middle of nowhere in Switzerland – the excitement of living basically in a forest wore off after a couple of weeks when I realised getting to anywhere bigger than a village would take absolutely ages…
Work too hard when it’s going well, because it’s difficult to work hard enough when you’ve spent six hours staring at a computer screen and the code someone gave you in a language you don’t know flat out refuses to run.
Realise that you are clever and that you can do science (they picked you for a placement, didn’t they?). I spent three weeks panicking about how scary and difficult everything was and hoping no-one would notice me in the group meetings so I didn’t have to speak, before working out that I did actually understand my placement and could contribute rather than just doing what I was told – and it got a lot more fun at that point!
Research always goes wrong. Always. And then it spends a week pretending it’s working before going wrong again. Might as well accept that one before you start…
It’s worth making the effort to meet and get to know other RISE students, I’ve met some awesome people!
The part where you get to laugh at me for being an idiot:
Crossing roads is really hard when all the cars are on the wrong side. That took some getting used to – although I bet I’ll now take ages to adjust back to cars being on the left…
German keyboards and touch typing don’t go well together.
Sunday opening is *not a thing* in Germany. Deciding at half three on a Saturday that you’ve got just enough food for dinner and breakfast and you’ll go shopping tomorrow morning? Bad Idea.
And, of course, remember to set a timer when you try and boil an egg.