To obtain my psychology bachelor’s degree at the university of Bremen I require to complete a three-month internship with 360 hours at any institution with the certified psychologist as a supervisor. I was looking forward for my internship since I after getting some experience working as student assistant at the university of Bremen, I was looking forward to work in another department and see how it is done in other universities. Since I am already an international student in Germany, I thought I can expand and experience even more different cultures, and see how it would be like to live in the Netherlands.
I planned my internship ahead. Already in autumn of 2019 I started to look for internship positions in different universities. I wanted to work at the research capacity and learn how the day of university professor looks like. So, I searched through departments of different universities in Ireland, Britain and Netherlands, before I found the department of theoretical psychology in University of Groningen. Shortly after that I wrote to several professors asking directly if they needed an intern for the duration of summer. Luckily, one of them answered positively and invited me for an interview. It went well and I started collecting documents for my faculty in Bremen and for Erasmus plus financial support. The documents I needed were pretty straight forward, and I was sure there should be any problems in getting them.
Come march, and the borders of European countries start to close down due to covid-19 crisis. My Dutch intensive course at the “Fremdsprachenzentrum der Hochshulen im Land Bremen (FZHB)” was cancelled. The first concerns about my internship were raised. At the beginning of May it was still unclear if the internship could be completed as it was planned. Just two weeks before my internship was about to start, I finally decided to come through with it. I quickly started looking for places to stay and collecting and filling out all the aforementioned documents I needed. Finding an accommodation was not as hard as I first thought. Later I discovered that it was a combination of the COVID-19 situation and the dates I required the accommodation for, since large number of international students travelled back home and in the Netherlands the semester ends somewhere at the beginning of June and the next one begins in September. The documents for Erasmus Financial aid were also clear and easy to collect and the international office was very accommodating and helpful. Since Groningen is just 180 km away from Bremen and half of the way you can travel with student ticket, the travelling was quite an easy affair. So, I arrived, I settled in my room, and the first meeting with the professor I worked for was set.
For my internship I worked on the statistics III course, that largely concentrated on the ideas of linear regression and generalized linear models. What I had to do is rethink and restructure the lectures and find more materials like datasets for exercises and articles for deeper understandings of the topics. One of the ideas for restructure of lectures was amid COVID-19 limitation to create videos that explain the essential and practical points of a lecture, that could be also re-watched later for preparing for an exam. The 5 to 10 minutes videos would divide the lecture and in between a professor would discuss the questions and problems that were mentioned in the videos. One example for that would be why the normal linear regression does not work with dependent variables with dichotomous outcomes; the video shows the fitting of the linear model, and the discussion would involve the question what problem could arise and ideas of how they could be solved.
This was very interesting for me for several reasons. First, I enjoy exploring datasets and finding the relationships between values. However, before this internship I was still very unsure about my abilities in handling a real data and struggled, when it came to interpretation of the outcomes. Thanks to the supervision during my internship I developed necessary skills and understandings of the underlying ideas behind the statistical methods we often use in psychology. With that I also expanded my competence in the programming language R, with which I prepared and simulated data for exercises and examples in lectures.
Second reason is that in my future work I hope to work at the university in research capacity and spent some time teaching more advanced topics. Now, I could experience what it is like to develop your own course and amount of work and preparation it takes. The professor that supervised me was a good example of someone who did just that; The researcher at the university, who also teaches a class. Through our meetings and discussions, I learned the insides of the academic work at the higher educational level.
- Living in Groningen
Groningen is a capital of the Dutch province of the same name. The 25% of the population are students, which fills the city with youthful energy and various things to explore and experience. Restaurants, bars, museum, theaters – you can find everything in a relatively small city center. And it is maybe small but, on every meter, there is an enormous amount of culture, from Arabic bazars to American dinners, from Belgian fries to south Americans tapas. The epicenter of it all is the Grote Markt, where every other day different wagons sell fresh vegetables and fruits, cheeses and meats, and if you like you can event get an espresso from the small coffee wagon, or get churros form another one.
From one of the residents I heard the phrase “Groningen is just like Amsterdam without tourists”, and form what I could have seen in the three months I spent there this phrase is very true. With the canals, cyclist everywhere and the busy but small streets it reminded me of a smaller Amsterdam. Everything you need and want is there, but you can also find a calm park or just sit on the edge with your feet touching the water at the quieter part of the canal.
It is definitely hard to get bored, even if it is summer and most of the students left the city, you can easily find people to meet through Facebook communities such as “New in Groningen or meet ups via different WhatsApp groups. Even without knowledge of Dutch language it is really easy to get by as large number of locals speak fluent English or themselves are internationals. We would often meet up by the small city beach and have some drinks and snacks. The bar culture is also very commune like, with people from different tables having no hesitations to talk to each other even amidst COVID-19 crisis.
Accommodations were a bit of a negative side of the city. Buildings in Groningen are pretty old and for what students can usually pay it would be a room in the house where you have to share the bathroom and toilettes with the whole house which would usually contain from 8 to 15 co-tenants. Even with these conditions the price will still be much higher than you would pay for similar accommodations in Bremen. This makes it feel less like home and more like a temporary room in a foreign city, which is okay for an internship, but I would not want to spent most of my time living like this.
I did enjoy my stay in Groningen and it gave me great overview of how it would be like to study and live in this beautiful Dutch city. I will definitely consider to apply for a research master place in Groningen next year, and thanks to this internship I also have some connections and references I can use if I move there for my future studies.