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Bhagyashree Soni is a 3rd year Undergraduate pursuing a Dual Degree (B.Tech+M.Tech) in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science.
Hello! I am Bhagyashree Soni, a 3rd year Undergraduate of Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science Department at IIT Bombay. I am pursuing my summer internship in Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, Australia. Here are a few memorable experiences from my internship.
I came to know about this internship opportunity through the Placement cell of IIT Bombay. The IAF was opened somewhere around mid February and the university was providing Chennupati and Vidya Jagadish scholarship for interns from all over the world for 10 weeks research internship in Research School of Physics and Engineering at ANU. This scholarship is provided by distinguished ANU Professor Chennupati Jagadish and his wife Vidya Jagadish.
The projects which ANU was providing were quite interesting and related to materials science and electronics. I was interested in both these fields. Apart from acads, another motive was to get some international exposure. It was my first international tour and Australia is very attractive for its natural diversity and lifestyle too, thus making me highly motivated to bag this internship.
In the selection process, Statement of Purpose (SOP), official transcript, resume, two letters of recommendation from professors were required. There was no interview for selection, they selected interns on the basis of the above mentioned documents and the SOP. A lot of time was spent on writing the SOP, as well as on reviewing it from friends and seniors. One must also not forget to ask / remind professors for recommendations. Since there were no interviews for selection, the process felt comparatively easier.
So after submitting these, they announced the names of students selected for the scholarship.
First impressions about the intern
I was quite excited about it because I was going out of India for the first time. The first impressions of this distant land, are the wonderful natural beauty of Australia as well as the technologically developed lifestyle. And especially in ANU, a very polite and helping nature of people, highly advanced labs, students enthusiastic for research, coupled with lots and lots of seminars and project meetings are what awaited me. I have to admit that the healthy and motivated environment towards research and the cold weather of Canberra (In July, the night temperature is generally negative) are something that will remain etched in my memory even after this internship.
My intern duration was of 10 weeks. So it was hard to find accommodation for such a short time period. I tried a lot for getting accommodation after being selected for internship. Talked to various people in the university and searched online as well, but nothing worked in my favour. But then, as luck would have it, I found accommodation in the house of a Punjabi family. Fortunately one room was vacant in their house and it was just 5 km away from university. So travelling also became easy and most importantly, I didn’t miss Indian food 😛
While travelling from my home to the university, I usually travelled by bus. Australia is very expensive as compared to India. But yeah, bus fares are less as compared to other modes of transport, and buses are easily available before 10PM. So for commuting inside Canberra, I just purchased the MyWay Card and recharged it according to my convenience. The buses had card detectors, that is, you must tap the card while coming in and leaving the bus and the required amount will be deducted from it.
Being a pure vegetarian, I have to admit that Australia is not at all a good place for such food preferences. There are a very very few vegetarian dishes available in restaurants, for instance salads, fruits, french fries and desserts. Fortunately for me, the Punjabi family I lived with, cooked vegetarian food for me, but whenever I had to go to malls, restaurants or to visit places outside Canberra, I did have to survive only on fruits and french fries. When I had visited Melbourne during this internship period, I painstakingly had to eat french fries for two days in a row! There wasn’t even a single veg burger in McDonalds too. But, for non-vegetarians, the variety of dishes available are quite a lot.
My research topic was based on the characterization of UV LEDs (Ultraviolet Light Emitting Diodes). So basically, I did the XRD (X-Ray diffraction) of thin films made by MOCVD (Metal-Organic Chemical Vapor Deposition) to make UV LEDs and then characterized it by calculating lattice constants and stress-strain values. I usually did lab work two days in a week and in the rest of the three days, majorly literature surveys and characterizations were done.
The ANU campus is very beautiful with colorful trees, exotic birds and a lake. In Canberra, one should visit the parliament house, museum, black mountains, the botanical garden, telstra tower. You could find a few kangaroos hopping around in the botanical garden. On telstra tower, the lift goes up to 890ft up and on that floor the air pressure is so high that one can’t even stand properly in that pressure. There are snow-capped mountains near and around Canberra. The snow falling starts here around the end of June, so it becomes a very good place for skiing. In Canberra, almost everything (most of the malls and shops) close at 5 pm. So I didn’t have much to do in evening/night time.
In Sydney, there are many places to visit. The Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Opera House, Harbour bridge, Bondi beach, Sea Life aquarium, Sydney Eye tower being the main attractions. There is a city called Wollongong, around 100 km away from Sydney. It is very famous for Skydiving over the beach.
In Melbourne, Twelve apostles are among the most beautiful natural formations, that I’ve ever seen. Sydney and Melbourne are very attractive for their night life. Both have a large number of beaches which are good for surfing and swimming.
There was a festival called Vivid, going on, in Sydney from 27th May to 18th June. So whole city was lightened up in night and there were a lot of light shows, cultural concerts and firework on Darling Harbor area. The lighting over Opera House and Harbour Bridge was changing in every minute and everything was so beautiful.
The population of Canberra is very less, in buses also there used to be only around 7-8 people at a time! Moreover, it is a very peaceful city. But Sydney and Melbourne are much more populated. One thing which utterly surprised me, was that in Australian styled houses, there were no door locks inside the rooms. In some houses, there weren’t even locks on washroom doors!
As a concluding statement, I would like to admit that It was an amazing experience. Being my first visit overseas, it helped me build a lot of self-independence, self-confidence and moreover, improved my communication skills. Due to a great research environment there, my enthusiasm towards research has increased manifold and the time spent in Australia, in ANU and visiting some truly awesome places, has been a part of what I’d call as one of the most memorable experiences of my life.