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Ing. Martin Špale, UCT Prague, ročník 5

Faculty Faculty of Chemical Engineering
Field of study Sensors and Cybernetics
Field of internship Computer and Information Sciences
Specialization of Internship- - - - - - - - - -
Internship period (from - to) 1.7.2016 - 30.6.2017
Internship duration (weeks) 52
Transport (means, price) car, approx. 1500CZK petrol (one-way)
Insurance/Insurance company Travel insurance for Switzerland, Allianz
Visa/Work permit (yes/no) yes - L permit
Price of Visa ~1200CZK
City of Internship Zobrazit místo na mapě  Switzerland, Basel
Internship reference number CH-2016-000117

About the country

Location of the place

Switzerland is a landlocked country situated mostly in the Alps. It has stunningly beautiful nature and also pretty cities with a lot of character.

City

Basel is in the north-western corner of Switzerland, in the German speaking part right on the border with Germany and France. The main landmark is the river Rhine flowing through the city. It is also known as a center for pharmaceutical and chemical industry because a lot of big global companies have their headquarters there. It has lot of historical sights and museums in the center. The city is quite small, about 170 000 people, and it is a very relaxed and 'quiet' place.

Surroundings (possible trips, ...)

It is all about the Alps! Switzerland is probably the best country in Europe for hiking and mountain sports in general. About 2/3 of the country is in the Alps. There are many opportunities for great trips - cities (Zurich, Bern, Lausanne, Geneva, Lugano...), and for beautiful Alpine sceneries places like Zermatt, Interlaken etc.

Employer

Employer

Syngenta AG. Syngenta is a major global producer of chemical compounds used in agriculture - pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and plant seeds. They have about 35000 employees worldwide with offices in many countries. It is a Swiss company with their headquarters in Basel where I worked.

Work description

I was working in the 'R&D Information Systems' department. The main purpose of this department is to manage all of the software applications which are used by the scientists. My role as a trainee was to act as an 'IT support' and make sure that everything runs smoothly - server and network infrastructure, environments. I did also some development of small proof of concept applications exploring new useful technologies.

Salary (sufficient for local conditions?)

Salary was good enough to live normally in Basel and at the same time travel both in Switzerland and Internationally during the traineeship. Switzerland has a very high income economy so the salaries are quite high, but as a reason of that, everything is extremely expensive there. Eating in restaurants for example is completely unrealistic.

Language requirements

Fluent English is an absolute must. Lot of global cooperation with colleagues from USA or UK. German would be definitely an advantage at work.

Accommodation (price, who provided it)

Accommodation was provided by the local IAESTE office. I got a relatively cheap room in the center of the city (500 CHF). But unfortunately I was living with an owner of the flat which was a senior Swiss woman (62 y.o.) and we didnt really fit together. So i had to deal with some arguments and disputes, but I survived.

Social life

Meeting IAESTE members (pick-up at the airport, organised events...)

Nobody picked me up to show me my accommodation or the place, i had to do everything on my own in the beginning. Please if you ever come to Switzerland for a traineeship, do yourself a favor and attend the IAESTE weekend trips! They are absolutely amazing. You meet other trainees from all around Switzerland and see really cool places. On top of that the local IAESTE offices were organizing a trainee meeting every Thursday (going to the pub, or to the river, lake in the summer).

Meeting other foreign students

In all of the 'bigger' cities in Switzerland there is a local IAESTE section with couple of trainees. So there are many other people in the same situation as you. However in Basel we were only a few trainees and we never really did any activities together (shame). On the other hand in Zurich there is a very big trainee community organizing events all the time.

Sport and culture

I didn´t really do any sports in Switzerland regularly, but it is great for sports - Skiing/ Snowboarding in the winter and hiking, cycling in the summer. In Basel you can swim in the river during the summer months and in other cities like Zurich you have a lake to swim.

Food, local specialties

Cheese & Chocolate. Try Fondue, it comes in more variants - cheese fondue, chocolate fondue, meat fondue... And also Raclette - melted cheese with a slice of toast bread and pickles.

Other information

Possibilites to communicate with the Czech Republic

Easy - Skype, Whatsapp. Phone calls are very expensive so watch out for that.

Recommendations for students who will go to the same place

Attend all of the trainee events organized by IAESTE Switzerland - weekend trips, Thursday meetings. Travel a lot - get discount cards from the SBB company (Swiss national railway company). There is the "Swisspass" card for about 160 CHF for a year with which you get a 50% discount for all the trains, cable cars and more - also called "Halbtax". Then there is the "Gleis 7" card for people under 25 with which you can travel everywhere for free after 7PM - use that as much as you can! I basically traveled for free most of the time.

What not to forget with you

Money until you get your 1st salary, Switzerland is very exepensive, you may need something like 1500 - 2000 CHF to start with. Bring your car as its the cheapest way of travel around the country and it can save you a lot of money if you buy groceries or anything in Germany.

Benefits of the internship

Professional and personal growth. Experienced a lot during this time period abroad. Would recommend to anyone.

Cooperation with IAESTE in the foreign country

In Basel the local section is not that active as they are a small group, so they don´t really interact much with the trainees which is a pity.

Overall experience with IAESTE

Great experience, i never had any problems with either Czech or Swiss IAESTE, they are cool people and also my friends (well at least some of them).

Student's website

N/A

Employer's webiste

https://www4.syngenta.com/

Other useful links

https://www.iaeste.ch/foreign-trainees/

Other comments

Do it! Go for an IAESTE traineeship!

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