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Going abroad: testimonies

Here are a few testimonies from students who have gone abroad. 

An M1 internship in Helsinki thanks to an A*Midex scholarship

My name is Marie Tautou and I am a first year student in the Master of Neurosciences at the University of Aix-Marseille, specializing in Neurobiology, Neurophysiology and Neuropathology.

I left for my M1 3 month internship in Helsinki, Finland. I was at the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Helsinki in the team of Dr. Mikko Airavaara and Dr. Andrii Domanskyi, to study whether increasing the level of microRNA increased the survival of dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson’s disease. I applied the culture of dopaminergic neurons from mouse embryos, immunohistochemistry but also the analysis of images obtained by light microscopy. I also learned new methods such as cloning, plasmid design or cell culture.

This experience allowed me to be confronted with a new approach to research, and also to widen my field of possibility for the thesis or a future internship. You also meet new people with whom to exchange on science and it is very stimulating, especially as my tutors were very available and attentive.

The small bonus being the trip itself, I discovered a new country that I loved, and I was able to travel to Estonia and Sweden as well. Don’t hesitate because it’s a very rewarding opportunity!

Interviewed in July 2017

© Marie Tautou
    Emilie Dinh went to Helsinki in 2016

    The possibility for me to do an internship abroad as part of the neuroscience Master's program was an incredible opportunity in every way. It allowed me to travel and discover a new world, both from a touristic and professional point of view. Research is an international field of work, it is necessary to know how to speak English, work with foreigners, adapt, create relationships... and I feel that I have acquired all this thanks to my M1 internship in Helsinki, Finland. Unfortunately, it only lasted two and a half months, but the people I met at the Neuroscience Center, especially the teams of Sari Lauri and Claudio Rivera, gave me incredibly good guidance and taught me a lot (I keep very good contacts with them).

    An internship allows us to put into practice what we have learned in class, but doing it abroad is an additional challenge that has brought me a lot more. So if you have the opportunity, I encourage you to take it and I also advise you to go to Helsinki because not only is Finland a beautiful country (natural, peaceful and English-speaking!) but it is also a very affordable starting point to other destinations!

    The experience was perfect for me (being able to live it with a classmate and my boyfriend helped a lot!), I have only good memories, and I wish the same to everyone.

    - Interviewed in 2016

    Maéline Muller went to Tübingen in 2019

    Going abroad has been a very enriching professional and personal experience.

    First of all, about the city itself, Tübingen is really a pleasant place to live in and very nice to visit. The only negative point I could raise is the difficulty I had in finding an accommodation (especially if it was late). So I had to use the Airbnb, but it allowed me to meet my hosts and to exchange in English.

    Regarding the workplace, there was a good atmosphere within the team. I particularly appreciated the effort made to help me fit in, especially by speaking English and not German when I was there. My tutor being particularly kind and patient also helped me to get comfortable early on. During the 2 months, I was able to see my English progress, in terms of oral fluency, vocabulary... But above all, practicing the language constantly made me overcome the apprehension of interacting in English, which I now do spontaneously. Concerning the work I was able to do, the subject of study was very interesting, although the experimental technique used (fMRI) was not the one I would be interested in using later on. However, it was very useful for me to have tested it anyway to help me in my future choices. In conclusion, I have excellent memories of this experience and I strongly recommend going abroad, whether it be to Tübingen or another destination.

    - Interviewed in January 2020

      Yanis Ahmed went to Oldenburg in 2019

      Going to Oldenburg, Germany, for a Master 1 laboratory internship is still a great learning experience for me. Although venturing out alone in a totally unknown environment is still very stressful, it allows you to prove to yourself that you are capable of it and therefore improves your self-confidence. The most complicated part is the organization and the travel to the place of residence for the stay, but nothing chaotic even with poor English, as mine. Once there, you quickly familiarize yourself with the language. The trip was extremely productive, the people you meet make for an enriching cultural exchange. The newly acquired habits change from the routine we may have at home and being in a new environment pushes us to visit and discover the places around us.

      This valuable experience has also allowed me to discover slightly different teaching methods from France as well as the discovery of new laboratories, but above all it has allowed me to strengthen my English and become much more comfortable speaking without being afraid.

      I don't really have any negative points to describe about this stay, except that it can be difficult to fit in at the beginning, but it comes gradually over time. I strongly recommend that you don't hesitate to take the plunge if you feel like going abroad to study or do an internship, the experience will only be positive. Moreover, taking the leap just once also makes you want to relive this adventure and motivates you to do it again, over a longer period of time.

      - Interviewed in January 2020

      Marie Robert went to Amsterdam in 2019

      During my Master 1, I had the opportunity to do a three-month internship at the University of Amsterdam. The team in which I did my internship works on sleep and memory, and this is exactly what I would like to work on. Unfortunately, having been there during the summer, the night recording rooms were closed because of the heat. I think it would have been better to go there during the school period to take full advantage of a project like this, which requires night recordings. So my internship focused on the analysis of existing data. My internship tutor was very kind and supportive, but I was a bit disappointed that it was daytime data, and even more cardiac data, because I missed the neuroscience aspect a bit. However, I was never bored! In my spare time I got to know Amsterdam and became part of the Dutch culture. This city is really nice and clean, all trips are done by bike, there are parks everywhere, and the people are very nice and open-minded. In spite of the high prices, I had the opportunity to live in a very nice area, close to the University. If I had to do it all over again, I would, and I advise everyone to seize this opportunity. Many thanks to the Neuroschool, which allowed me to live this incredible and enriching experience!

      - Interviewed in January 2020

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