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Jiří Semmler, Brno University of Technology,ročník 3
About the country
Location of the place
Leuven is in the flanders part of Belgium, around 50km eastern from Brussels.
It is a students city, coparable with Brno (I guess) with big university KU Leuven. It means that during the summer time it is almost empty and in September it is full :) What suprised me is the public transport. The buses are ok but most of the people prefer the biking, which is cool :) There are lot of bars, places where to go run, some sport areas... I can image to live there...
Surroundings (possible trips, ...)
Well, Belgium is small but full of interesting places. Which is cool, because it takes like 2-3 hours to get anywhere. The traveling in Belgium is not so expensive. With the Gopass10 you have each way for €5 or cheaper.
I was working for Septentrio company. It is a leader in GNSS systems. It is company with around 100 employees but what is realy cool, that they have a tradition of hiring students for the internship. So employees are used to for students.
My job was to create a tool which would help them to visualize test results. It was web project in Python what I like but on the other hand, it hand nothing connected with the GNSS. But I like it because I focus on web development and I could use my previous experience and extend it. But be careful if it realy fits for you. You can enjoy the summer doing something what you like or you can suffer doing something what you don't know/like. And they expect from you that you will work and help them. If you want to just party and do nothing, stay at home.
Salary (sufficient for local conditions?)
enough to pay the rent, have good food (I cooked at home for myself), travel almost every weekend, and party (almost every weekend :) and save something. My expenses where around 500€ and the income was higher. But are payed monthly, so for the first month you need to have some money with you.
Almost all the belgians (from flanders!) were able to comunicate in english (everybody). And in the company was the English main language, because the people were from different parts of the world. Not only Dutch/French speaking Belgians but even Portuguese, Brazilian, Czech... So you should have high English level but where not...
Accommodation (price, who provided it)
I found an accomodation on Facebook Leuven group. Because Leuven is full of students and these students dont want to pay the rent during the summer time, it was easy to find accomodation but only for July/August. For Spetember/October it is difficult but I was lucky because I could stay till the end of intenship. I advice to find a student (facebook...) from the city and he/she will help you. Prices are from 250-400€/room/month
Meeting IAESTE members (pick-up at the airport, organised events...)
The IAESTE member in Leuven was the only one from IAESTE there and with full time job it was difficult for him to support us. So I managed everything on my own. But when I needed a help (about some paperwork) he helped me. So don't expect that they will care about you as your mother does. But they will help you when you need it.
Meeting other foreign students
There were 9 students in the company, so there was not a big problem to find somebody to go out with.
Sport and culture
Belgians care about the healthy lifestyle, so there are places for jogging, swimming etc. And during the summer, there are lot of festivals in Belgium, so I didn't feel depresed by culture :)
Food, local specialties
Beer, beer, cheese, friteurs, chocolate, beer, beer.... that are the belgian food specialites.
Possibilites to communicate with the Czech Republic
In the year 2015... skype/mail/facebook
Recommendations for students who will go to the same place
Some money for the first month. I expected that I will be payed weekly so it was a little bit difficult. Don't forget to set up the bank account. I thought that I will go to the first bank and open the bank account for 4 months for free realy easy... no way.
What not to forget with you
Attitude to do/try new things and good mood.
Benefits of the internship
Huuuuge! I got a lot of new knowledge about programming, developing in bigger company, how to work agile... Difficult to describe :)
Cooperation with IAESTE in the foreign country
Not so big. But I didn't need it so I didn't care.
Overall experience with IAESTE
I don't know what to say because I don't have big experience. They set up/prepared a great internship, thanks a lot but that's it.
Other useful links
If you will have opportunity to go to Septentrio, just do it. But as I said, be careful if it is ok for you. And if you will have questions, feel free to ask :)