“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch
Sitting on a plane en route to Dresden, Germany, which would be my home for the next two months, I felt more than a little nervous. Suffice to say, I’d never lived alone before or even spent longer than two weeks away from my tiny island, so the prospect of spending two months living and working in a foreign country (whose language I knew approximately two words of) was a little daunting, to say the least.
I started to realise that my apprehension was all in vain when I saw the smiling faces of two IAESTE Dresden members awaiting me at Arrivals. Immediately I was whisked off to my new home. After that, I was lucky enough to be introduced to almost the entire IAESTE Dresden family at a customary barbeque that was coincidentally being held that night. It was there that I met some of the friendliest people I’ve ever encountered, some of whom later became almost a surrogate family during my stay in Dresden.
My assigned workplace for the traineeship was the ‘Institut für Leichtbau und Kunststofftechnik’, translated to the Institute for Lightweight Engineering and Polymer Technology. After being given a brief introduction and a tour of the institute’s impressive labs, my supervisor and I discussed the project I’d be working on. I was lucky enough to be assigned a task that was similar to the work I’d done on my thesis, so it was a great opportunity to further expand my knowledge and its various applications. On top of that, I had the opportunity to work firsthand with state of the art machinery such as a three-dimensional scanner.
The new experiences didn’t stop at work – on weekends the IAESTE team would organise countless events to help us make the most of our free time, from a climbing park to the weekly ‘Stammtisch’, a
meeting of friends over some typical German beer. The definite highlights were trips to other cities inside and outside of Germany. In my case these were the quaint Wroclaw in Poland and the bustling vibrant capital, Berlin. The excitement of city exploration coupled with the enthusiasm of the team and all its members made it impossible not to form very good friendships, even in the short period of two months.
As I’m sure is evident from this article, this experience was by far one of the best of my life, and I wouldn’t hesitate for a second before recommending it to anyone – you won’t regret it!