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Mgr. Hana Berezňáková, Masaryk University, ročník 6

Faculty Biochemistry
Field of study Biochemistry
Field of internship Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Specialization of InternshipBiochemistry/Biophysics and Molecular Biology
Internship period (from - to) 05.10.2018 - 16.08.2019
Internship duration (weeks) 45
Transport (means, price) Flights, 1200 EUR return
Insurance/Insurance company Allianz.sk
Visa/Work permit (yes/no) Temporary activity visa (subclass 408)
Price of Visa 175 EUR
City of Internship Zobrazit místo na mapě  Australia, Melbourne
Internship reference number AU-2018-MEL1806

About the country

Location of the place

Australia is on the other upside-down part of the world (obviously). Melbourne is the capital of state Victoria and it's located on the southeastern part of the continent. The CSIRO Parkville site is located in the inner city north of CBD (center of the center) so everything that the city has to offer is close by.

City

Melbourne is an awesome city, full of parks, cafes, restaurants and rooftop bars. In the center is the CBD, which is very busy and full of people, but all the suburbs around are filled with Victorian houses and are way more spacious and nicer to walk around. In Melbourne you can basically find anything that you can think of, with plenty of events and activities happening all year round.
A funny thing about Melbourne is it's weather, it's really crazy and it changes a lot and fast. Don't believe anyone though, that winters are cold as they are nowhere close to European winters and you won't even need a winter jacket (at least I didn't).

Surroundings (possible trips, ...)

If you rent a car (rentalcar.com or carnextdoor.com) there is many day-trip that you can do. Great ocean road (I would recommend two days) and Mornington Peninsula with nice coastal views, walks and hot springs, Torquay and Philip island for beach and surfing, national parks like Wilsons promotory and Grampians for hikes, the Australian alps for snow or hikes as well. I recommend camping as main form of accommodation, as there are heaps of free campsites available (also more fun) and camping equipment is super cheap at Kmart. If none of these options are interesting enough, the airport is close with many cheap flights all over Australia and further.

Employer

Employer

CSIRO Manufacturing, Parkville site, Strategic proteins group.

Work description

I was given my own project based on my own preferences. The goal of my project was to express, purify and crystallize an enzyme. I was given my own lab bench and office space. Mostly I was working independently with everyone being always available to help and advise me. The atmosphere is very relaxed and friendly, you will get used to having both morning and afternoon tea, a lot of cake for pretty much any occasion and leftovers from meetings that need to be finished.

Salary (sufficient for local conditions?)

We were getting 500 AUD per week, which was enough to cover living costs and even travel around.

Language requirements

At least B2 English level to be able to pass the interviews and get accepted. At CSIRO and in Australia in general people are very friendly and helpful, so no need to stress about the level of your English once you are there.

Accommodation (price, who provided it)

I had to find accommodation on my own, i got a private room in a share house of 4 people for 700 AUD/month excluding bills, which were no more than 100 AUD/month. Most of the students arrive in Melbourne, stay in a hostel and find accommodation on spot, since it`s quite common to get interviewed for a room. Good sites to look for rooms are flatmates. com, flatmatefinders.com and facebook group fairy floss real estate. Inner suburbs are awesome but a bit more expensive (Fitzroy, Carlton), in CBD a shared room costs about the same as a private ones in other suburbs, so i would recommend suburbs like Parkville, Brunswick, Northcote, Collingwood wich are very hip and still close to both work and city center.

Social life

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

I was picked up from the airport by a local IAESTE member, which was super nice. During the year, there were several trips an events organized by IAESTE (BBQ, Grampians, Wilsons prom), and a after-meeting dinner in the city every second week, so plenty of opportunities to meet with the other students and members. We were all in a group chat, so organizing other events or getting people to do stuff was quite easy.

Meeting other foreign students

Students working in CSIRO in Melbourne are divided into two main groups, Parkville and Clayton. We were 4 students at each site and at least our Parkville crew got along very well and we spent most of the time together. The others we met up during the IAESTE trips, dinners and our own events. Otherwise people at work were very friendly and inviting us for activities as well. But there is also plenty of internationals and students which you can meet outside of work.

Sport and culture

Melbourne is super sporty, I mean their public holidays are on big sport events, that sporty. The city has plenty of parks always full of joggers and many gyms with pools with affordable memberships. Also AFL (Australian football league) is very popular, I definitely recommend going for at least one game, it's a little confusing but quite fun to watch. You can also join a local footy club to practice it in case you get interested. Melbourne is quite artsy as well and there is many museums to go for, I would recommend at least the big Melbourne museum which has a free entrance for students.

Food, local specialties

The only specialty in Melbourne is probably chicken parma (schnitzel with tomato sauce and cheese on top), but you can get pretty much any other type of cuisine in the city. I recommend downloading the eatclub app, where you can get discounts for various restaurants and make eating out affordable. Also coffee and brunches are a big deal in Melbourne, so I also recommend going for either one in the lane-ways.

Other information

Possibilites to communicate with the Czech Republic

Internet (obviously), so Whatsapp, Messanger, emails and so. Wifi is usually not included in the accommodation, because people often buy data plans for their cellphones and use it for home as well. Coverage in the city is very good, gets worse in the bush (outside of the city) to none in the outback (the desert basically). Vodafone and Optus are the cheaper providers, the data plans change every once in a while, but you can get about 30GB for around 30 AUD a month.

Recommendations for students who will go to the same place

Try to get cheap accommodation (no more than 200 AUD/week) to save money for travelling, use bike to get places (always faster and cheaper, you can get cheap bikes at bikeshed/marketplace/gumtree) and shop at markets (Queen Vic Market gets super cheap half an hour before closing time since everyone needs to sell their goods) and op shops (much more common compared to Europe). Australian insurance is quite expensive, so search for travel insurance in your home country instead, I had a year travel insurance from Allianz.sk which was much cheaper and also sufficient for visa.
At work don't stress, it's basically up to you how much you do, but everyone is super helpful and nice, so use it to try and learn as much as you can. Also don't be afraid to ask for some days of as the supervisors are going to be happy to hear you are discovering Australia and having a good time.

What not to forget with you

Money for the first month (rent and bond can get expensive), something from your country to share (ideally food or drink), everything else can be bought.

Benefits of the internship

Getting to work with amazing people and seeing what research is like elsewhere, learning new biochemical methods and techniques in the most friendly environment, and getting to live in and experience Australia.

Cooperation with IAESTE in the foreign country

Excellent, I was in touch with IAESTE Melbourne through both email and messenger before I arrived in Australia. Especially before departing when I had troubles with the paperwork I got a lot of help from their side. There was quite a few events and trips organized by them and quite a few members would come to other events that we would organize, which was always nice.

Overall experience with IAESTE

My overall experience was good, only before the beginning of my internship I had problems with unexpected paperwork and my local IAESTE couldn't help me. However my issues were solved by the IAESTE in Australia and my employer and I had only good experience besides that.

Student's website

--

Employer's webiste

https://www.csiro.au/

Other useful links

https://flatmates.com.au/
www.flatmatefinders.com.au
https://www.facebook.com/groups/117412174975402/
https://www.gumtree.com/
https://www.carnextdoor.com.au/
https://eatclub.com.au/

Other comments

I had quite a problem with an official contract from CSIRO that I received couple weeks before my internship was supposed to start. I just finished my degree and was no longer a student, but this contract required signatures from my University as well. As it wasn't stated in the job offer and I was assured that I can go for an internship after I finish my studies, I had quite a problem to get the form signed. At my University (Masaryk University) they refused to sign it and said that they wouldn't have even if I was still a student (insurance problem). In the end I was given a different contract which allowed my to work at CSIRO, but a lot of other students had the same problem and found ways around it.
In case you are applying to work at CSIRO, do so during your studies so that you still have the student status and expect this contract. In the end the contract didn't really matter much and no one was checking it, but you still needed it signed by someone to be able to work there (it is a government organization after all). Also all the troubles in the beginning are well worth the internship, so don't get discouraged!

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