Monday, January 27, 2014

Overseas Attachment Exceeds My Expectations

“Were you working or travelling?!”

This was what friends and family asked me jokingly after I came back to Singapore from my trip to Germany. Over the last few weeks, I shared a lot of travel photos on Facebook, which I managed to capture while I was on attachment. I was very lucky to be able to do my internship in Germany.
Here’s my experience and I hope you will be able to experience this yourselves some day!

I was selected to participate in the Overseas Industrial Placement Programme (OIPP) by NYP. The programme gives final year students an opportunity to work in companies overseas and gain practical experience.
With my supervisor, Mr Philipp Rauh (on the right), in front of Siemens.
I did my internship in a well-established company - Siemens AG. It is a globally known German engineering and electronics company. I was working in the Research and Development Department in Siemens AG, Nuremberg, Germany.

The working time there was flexible. The only conditions I had to meet were to clock in 35 hours a week; I could only work up to 10 hours a day. This means I could work 10 hours for some days and take a day and a half off for vacation. I love this working arrangement!

The project assigned to me in Siemens was challenging and exciting. It was a typical engineering job – problem-solving. I did measurement, troubleshooting, and gave my reports to my supervisor. I also had an unforgettable experience during work, and one assignment really brought back nostalgic memories.

When I was a child, I liked to disassemble my toys to see what’s inside, and try to reassemble them after that. It was to fulfill my curiosity. And, at Siemens, one of the tasks assigned to me was to study an assembly part. So, I had to disassemble the whole assembly part and take note of the dimensions of each component. It was similar to what I did when I disassembled my toys. At that point, I realised that people who like to fix things will most probably like engineering!

I really enjoyed problem-solving during my entire internship. Whenever a task was assigned to me, I could decide on the method of implementation. Whenever a problem occurred, I had to think of a way to solve it. The feeling after solving the problems was immensely satisfying. It also re-affirmed my belief that engineering is the right path for me.

Let’s continue with another exciting part of my internship. Travelling during free time!

I had time to travel during the weekends and I used EVERY weekend fully. I planned my schedule and booked the accommodation a week ahead. For those who enjoy budget travelling, youth hostels in Europe are good choices. I stayed in youth hostels during my trips and always read the hostels’ reviews before booking. I also have an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) that I applied for, and it gave me travel discounts and opportunities. With the card, I need not pay a booking fee online when booking hostels.

I had seven weekends and I had visited seven countries! I went to Amsterdam in The Netherlands, Vienna in Austria, Paris in France, Venice in Italy, Mount Titlis in Switzerland amongst others.

Paris is famous for the Eiffel tower. I had seen a lot of photos of the tower and wanted to see it for myself, but when I stood in front of the real tower, I didn’t feel it was that awesome. I muttered to myself: “Oh, this is it. It’s really very tall.”

Perhaps it just wasn’t that spectacular during the day.

I visited Eiffel Tower with some course mates also doing their internship in Europe. I’m second from the right!
Venice is an island city on water and surrounded by water. Their public transport is really unique! It is called water bus, and it’s a boat that travels on the water. It is like the bus for us.

Water bus stop (left), Water bus (right)
Vienna is a city of music. Famous composers like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven developed their careers there. I never attended a concert before and I took the chance to go for one while I was there and it was great. I have no photos of this trip because I forgot to bring my camera.  So I had mixed feelings; I was awed by what I saw, but sad that I didn’t manage to capture memories with my camera.
Me on Mount Titlis, Switzerland
On my last weekend, I went to Switzerland. The only thing I wanted to see was snow. I could see, touch, feel and play with snow at 3238 meters on top of Mount Titlis, a mountain located in the Urner Alps of Switzerland. I even brought ham, cheese and bread to make my own budget sandwich lunch on top of the mountain. Yup, everything was expensive there, so I brought my own lunch.

Self-prepared sandwich lunch on top of Mount Titlis
Every country that I experienced, with different languages spoken, and the different cultures, are new experiences to me and those memories are truly cherished.

Although it was not easy to communicate with the locals, it was nice to watch them, and observe how they speak, how they eat and their way of life. I love to do new things and I’m glad I had so many new experiences throughout my two months abroad.

My Dream Achieved

When I first entered NYP three years ago, I really wanted do my internship overseas and aimed for it. It was not easy to get it as there was a lot of competition from peers. Most of the students in my course (Diploma in Digital & Precision Engineering) are scholars and they were all working hard to achieve the same aim too. Sometimes, I felt like I was my own worst enemy. Whenever I felt like giving up, I reminded myself of the goal I had set and I worked hard again.

My course manager, Mr David Lim Chung Woo, always encouraged us students to strive for the best and secure the opportunity to go overseas. I worked hard on my GPA, enriched myself with co-curricular activities (CCAs), went through the final interview and finally landed in Germany for a two month internship.

When I was selected, it felt like a dream come true. The feeling is indescribable. I believe some of you have experienced it before. If you haven’t felt this before, try setting a goal, a realistic one, and working towards it. When you achieve it (no matter how big or small the goal is), you will feel it, I promise! It might be a long journey to achieve the goal but it is definitely worth it.

Now, some of you might say it’s costly to go overseas. For our course, I had an allowance from my internship company and the school to cover all my expenses. I’m very grateful for this. Last but not least, I would like to thank my mentor, Ms Jerilee Leong, who supported and encouraged our class when we were preparing for interviews, and guided us throughout these three years.

And thank you, NYP!

By Kiong Xiang Yi, Year 3, Diploma in Digital and Precision Engineering

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Xiang Yi likes reading and travelling.  He is new to writing articles. He believes in the saying, "if you are determined to learn, no one can stop you". His dream is to travel around the world and explore it, make new friends and try new things. Being involved in SEG Club and other CCAs, he knows that going through challenging experiences can make him a stronger person and help him take on more challenges in the future.

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