Tobias Oberst at University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
My name is Tobias Oberst, I am 25 and I am studying Sport Medical Engineering at the University of Applied Science RheinAhrCampus (RAC) in Remagen since 2004. From the beginning of my studies I knew that I would try to gain as much international experience as possible within my time at the RAC to ensure that my employment opportunities afterwards wouldn’t be limited to the German speaking market.
Furthermore from several stays abroad before enrolling at the RAC I came to the point of view that there is a big difference between traveling abroad and working in a foreign environment. So far an internship represents the ideal opportunity to get an idea how it feels to work somewhere else than in
How to get started:
The most important thing before beginning the research for a decent company is to know the area that the internship should take place in. (In my case: studying Medical Engineering – Internship desired: the area of Biomedical Engineering related to Sport).
- Then use one of the most important webpages, http://www.rheinahrcampus.de/How_to_find_a_company.2029.0.html
and Google! There are plenty of internship companies that require a fee arranging a suitable internship position. This certainly is the most convenient way but at the same time the most expensive way to find an internship position. Another way to figure out which company meets all requirements is to use Google or the institutions, which are free of charge, e.g. www.iaeste.de for Sciences.
Applying at the University of New South Wales:
Once I found suitable companies I started writing applications and hoped for positive feedback. I always found great support concerning international affairs at Sprachen/Internationales, for example in formulating an English application. I spent a lot of time in front of the computer writing applications and approaching companies all over the world until I found the following link: www.international.unsw.edu. The University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia, offers a so-called “Professional Practicum Program” which basically means that you have to choose one of the numerous faculties of the UNSW that covers your interests, find a supervisor who would support you for the duration of your internship and then figure out on which project you could be involved in. When all this has been accomplished you still need the agreement of the international office of the UNSW, i.e. get through the enrolment papers and finally get the OK from the International Exchange Advisor Asia & Europe. The charge to participate in this program is 300 Australian Dollars (AUD) - 180 Euro. The advantage of this program is that you work in Australia but enter the country as a Student on a Student visa and for every other formality (e.g. Bafoeg, health insurance etc.) you still count as a student which can safe you a lot of money.
After I had processed all of the things mentioned above and received the welcome package from the UNSW with all the necessary information, I was finally able to apply for the student visa. I recommend doing the application online as it is a quick and relatively simple procedure. The Student Visa costs 430 AUD (260 Euro).
Having been granted a visa the next step was to book the flight. According to my experience I assume the cheapest flights for students to Australia are available at STA-Travel. Prices vary between 1,000 and 1,500 Euro. Another personally suggestion would be to choose the flight connection carefully. For example, I had the opportunity to travel through Thailand during my Semester break without spending money for an additional flight as Bangkok was the stopover on the way to Australia.
When I finally arrived in Sydney and spent a few days at a hostel in order to recover from the jetlag. The next challenge was to find a nice place to live. The University is placed in Kensington (an eastern suburb of Sydney) therefore the new home shouldn’t be too far away from there, but at the same time it was of highest priority to me to live close to a surf beach. Hence, the most suitable suburbs were Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte and Maroubra. With reference to these little limitations I would suggest to bring slightly more time for house hunting than you think you would need at home.
House hunting in Sydney:
A very good information source to find a far bit of useful offers including accommodation, furniture, etc. is: http://www.statravel.de. Ads in the windows of internet cafes, etc. are also very helpful. Apart from this most properties are rented out through real-estate agencies which make it quite difficult for a student to find a proper home. You’ll find an up to date overview for available properties on http://www.domain.com.au/. Likewise, the housing market is advertised in the Saturday issue of the newspaper “Sydney Morning Herald”. Last but not least the housing office of the UNSW can also assist in finding a suitable accommodation.
After having settled down in a comfortable home in North Bondi I started my internship at the School of Safety Science of the UNSW on the 1st of October. In the first days meetings with my supervisor were arranged to work out a survey regarding the project I would be involved in. To be honest, despite the fact that I usually feel quite comfortable having an English conversation, in the beginning it was not always easy to understand every biomedical specialist word and sometimes, mixed with a strong Australian accent it was even more difficult to follow a conversation. But due to very nice colleagues and a very enjoyable working atmosphere it didn’t take long until I felt comfortable and well integrated at my working place.
My particular task during the internship was to draw a comparison between concussive and non-concussive head impacts in Australian Rugby Union. Over a period of about 10 years the School of Safety & Science of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) analyzed a series of about 100 concussion cases in Rugby to obtain a description of the impact and some estimation of impact speed and energy. 27 of these cases where analyzed using MADYMO, a modeling software, to estimate head accelerations and other biomechanical variables. I was asked to do an attempt to disprove or confirm the hypotheses below:
- The characteristics of concussive head impacts and non-concussive head impacts are the same;
- The impact velocity and head impact energy characteristics of concussive head impacts and non-concussive head impacts are the same;
- The head's acceleration and other injury functions for concussive head impacts and non-concussive head impacts are the same.
Hypotheses 1 and 2 would be answered with a descriptive analysis and video analysis using Snapper, a PC based observational analysis program which records user defined events in selected footage through a graphical user interface. Hypothesis 3 requires MADYMO.
Leisure time activities:
Besides the very interesting tasks of my internship, there are heaps of other reasons why I chose to go to Australia. For example, a usual day looks as follows: I get up with the sunrise, go for a 1-2 hour surf, then I catch the bus to work – usually from 9 until 5 – and just after work I go for a surf again until sunset. Furthermore, there are many national parks close by, always worth a day- or weekend trip to discover something new. Once there are no waves, the Blue Mountain are just one hour drive away to do some rock-climbing or bush hiking, and in Sydney and the closer surroundings there is a lot of sandstone located for good rock-climbing, too. Australia is crazy about Sport anyway, i.e. they offer anything you can imagine, from golf and tennis to sky and scuba diving. In addition, the city of Sydney has a whole lot more to offer and something new to discover every day.
All in all I am convinced that my internship in Australia; is beneficial to gain practical experience in my area of studies, improve my English skills and in general being able to enjoy one of the best times in my life. I would encourage anyone to grab the chance and at least absolve the practical term abroad in order to gain international experience that might be very important for the future.