Fiona (Chemistry), worked in Basel
I spent my year working in a research lab for a pharmaceutical company in Switzerland, a country whose official language is Swiss German. I didn’t really know what to expect considering I don’t speak German (thankfully the working language of my lab was English) and I’d never worked in a lab where I was responsible for planning my own experiments. That didn’t stop me though as I quickly got used to the flow of things and I even managed to learn enough German to go to a restaurant and read a menu, or to ask people to take pictures for me on my trips.
I started my internship at the same time as 17 other students. We lived together in the same building and worked together to support each other in this new country, both at home and at work. While we weren’t at work, we were on trips to all the various countries that surround Switzerland and got stuck in with all sorts of activities – we went to EuropaPark, took part in a Team Marathon, zip-wired down a mountain, drove to Liechtenstein, tasted local delights in France, visited the Swiss Alps, and flew to Italy, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Czech Republic, the Netherlands…the list goes on!
I would have to say that this year has really given me the opportunity to develop as a person. I learnt about an industry I could work in after graduation and developed my professional skills both inside and outside the lab. I formed new contacts and friendships. I learnt a new language and a new way of life. I visited more countries I could dream of and have experienced some amazing memories.
When I started this year I thought it would be all about the job, but now I realise working abroad is more than that. It’s about the experience of living in another country and fully embracing every opportunity that comes your way. Be brave, take a chance and you might just surprise yourself with what you discover.