Hong Kong, China
My name is Carina Dertnig and I am studying Chemistry at Graz University of Technology in Austria. During this year’s summer holidays, which means after the first year of my master programme, I did a six-week IAESTE internship at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The Support of IAESTE I want to say a big thank you to IAESTE Austria as well as IAESTE Hong Kong. They are doing great work in giving students the chance for international internships connected to their studies. Additionally, they supported me during the whole preparation process as well as during the internship. IAESTE helped to organize the visa for us interns, who came to Hong Kong, and if possible, sent it to us in advance. They also organized our accommodation in Hong Kong and were there for us on site. The IAESTE Hong Kong reception team picked us up at a bus stop near our accommodation on our arrival, showed us the way to our working place, organized some trips and were there for us whenever we needed something. I think all this work is very important, because I felt welcome from the very beginning and knew that I was not alone. The only thing I had to organize myself was the insurance, which is obligatory for an IAESTE internship. I made this insurance via STA travel, where a job as well as travelling are included.
I worked at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in the Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology for six weeks. More exactly, I worked in analytical chemistry. My main project was the trial analysis of two kinds of samples, fish maw and abalone, which have never been analyzed before in this working group. The main goals were to find out the best method to analyze these samples, including sample preparation, homogenization and the analysis itself, and to get an overview of compounds that can be found in them. To be honest, the work itself was not really my field of interest and I would have preferred to do more chemical work and less work on Excel. However, as you will read later on, I totally don’t regret this internship, quite the contrary. The payment of IAESTE internships is adjusted to the country you are working in and was sufficient for the living costs in Hong Kong.
IAESTE Hong Kong organized the accommodation for all interns, which was a student dorm around 10 to 20 minutes walk away from our working places. In the dorm, we lived in kind of flats with a fridge, an eating area, two showers with a toilet and a sink each, additional sinks outside of the showers and four rooms. There were three double and one triple room. In the room, each person had a bed, a cupboard, a desk and some shelves. Not all people in the flats were IAESTE interns, but as far as I know, the people sleeping together in one room were always IAESTE interns. We paid HK$88 per person per night for sleeping there, which is around 9 – 10 €. Additionally, we had the possibility to use air condition, which had to be paid extra according to our use. In the dorm, there were kitchens, washing and drying machines in every floor. Additionally, there were a lot of extra rooms, like common rooms, sky gardens, a study room, a silent room, a game room and more. I was very happy with the accommodation and it was nice that all interns lived there together, so we could stay in touch easily.
Free Time and Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, the weather is very hot, humid and unpredictable. The city itself is very beautiful, contrary, as there are a lot of nature but also a lot of skyscrapers, and there are so many things to explore. Even during my internship I couldn’t see everything, though we did trips almost every day. This brings me to the part of free time. We were a very big group of interns from all over the world who worked at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. There were people from USA, Thailand, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Macedonia, Spain, Serbia, Jordan, Taiwan, Slovakia and more. We had a WhatsApp group altogether, where we always communicated and planned our trips. We all got very close to each other soon, as we were in the same situation, going to a new country without knowing anyone. We really used every free time we had to see new parts of Hong Kong or even somewhere else. Most of us went to Macao, which is another special administrative region of China, we slept a whole weekend in Lantau Island, which is a part of Hong Kong, we went to a firework, to sightseeing attractions, to a horse race and much more.
I can really recommend such an experience with all my heart. I am so happy that I was brave enough to go to Hong Kong alone. However, I never really felt alone, as we were such a big and nice group and also had the IAESTE Hong Kong team who cared for us. If I am honest, the work itself wasn’t really my field of interest. Still, the internship was an awesome and important time and even if I didn’t learn so much in chemistry, I learned a lot for my life. I got to know a different culture, I improved my English skills, I learned how to trust more in myself, how to cope with unforeseen situations and to be more self reliant and spontaneously. I earned additional soft skills and organizational skills. I have become friends with really great people from all over the world and I have made priceless memories with them in Hong Kong. Some of us are already planning a reunion in Europe right now. I can only recommend a unique experience like this one and I would always take this chance again.