You are a scientist and want to do an internship abroad? You want to improve your English by going to another country? You want to travel and work at the same time? What if I told you that this is possible.
In 2012 during the third year of my bachelor in chemistry, I had to do an internship from 3 weeks to 5 months (including the summer holidays). I needed to improve my English, so I decided to combine this internship with the learning of English and I did this in Australia.
We often hear about language students going abroad for their studies but this is less common among science students. I find that unfortunate, and would recommend to any students to move for several reasons. The first one is obviously to learn English (or any language). The second reason is to gain a vision of the chemical industry (in my case) abroad, see what other countries are doing in your field, how they work and if their ways of working doesn’t suit you best. Third, working abroad is an experience personally enriching.
Thus, in April 2012, I left France for Perth for a period of 5 months. After 4 days visiting Perth, I began my work and my immersion into the Australian culture was swift and intense. Nobody spoke French, so I had to learn fast and well English in order to understand my superiors and to make myself understood. My lab technician work was not very difficult, but allowed me to work in team for 8 hours. This was absolutely perfect because it gave me the opportunity to speak English during 8 hours. Moreover most of my supervisors and colleagues were expatriates from Australia’s neighbourhood countries, which allowed me to hear different accents.
Perth is a great city to live in. Situated on the west coast of Australia it is a city surrounded by the desert. In the south of Perth, there is Magaret River well known for its vineyards. Travelling east from Perth is the Swan valley and river. While going north you will find the Pinnacles Desert with the white sand dunes of Lancelin. The Indian Ocean and its magnificent beaches border the west part of the city. It was an idyllic setting for an internship. Australian people are very nice, welcoming and relaxed. After 5 months, it was time to say goodbye and come back to France and to the reality of my studies.
– Australian industries do not pay students in internship so you will have to apply for a “working and holiday” visa and ask your company to give you a temporary contract. This visa (around 200 € in 2012) allows you to work and stay in Australia for a period of 1 year. It is an electronic visa (which is a little scary because you have no proof) that is to ask on the Australian Embassy website in your country.
– The fiscal year is from April to March. So you will pay your taxes in Australia, which are directly deducted from your salary every month, but they will be refunded at the end of each fiscal year after filling out the necessary paperwork.
– House sharing are easy to find even though the majority of travellers prefer the atmosphere of youth hostels.
– Health insurance is recommended in case of hospitalisation or need for repatriation to your native country.
– You can bring your phone and buy a SIM card in Australia. You just need to unlock your phone before leaving.
– You will need a passport (no visa without a passport anyway) and an international driving license if you want to rent a car there.
For the curious, I recommend you to read the Bill Bryson’s book: Down under and to watch the film: Track.