Each year, several students of the Environmental Pollution Management (Ecotoxicology) Program complete an 8-week internship, the so-called “AMEO”. The AMEO is performed either at an external university, governmental or industrial research institute where students learn to apply the competences achieved during their study. Students also use this opportunity to travel and explore not only Germany, but also other countries. In this blog post, Dana Bashkir shares her AMEO experience in Wageningen University and Research, Netherlands.
“My name is Dana and I did my internship in Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands, which is a collaboration between Wageningen University and the Wageningen Research foundation. The university is widely known for its agriculture, forestry, and environmental studies programs. My internship was in the Soil Physics and Land Management (SLM) chair group which addresses soil physical and hydrological processes and their central role in sustainable land and water management. The project I worked on aimed to investigate the toxicity of microplastics to earthworms in various conditions (temperature, moisture and soil type). I was supervised by researcher Esperanza Huerta Lwanga and all my tasks were related to assisting her research.
I spent most of the internship in the lab with only a few days of field work. The internship was full-time: from Monday to Friday and 7-8 hours a day. My tasks included taking care of the earthworms, preparing experimental set-ups, conducting the experiments and recording the results. Unfortunately, the duration of my internship was not long enough to conduct data analysis, but it is definitely an option. Although there were days full of mundane repetitive work, there was also enough time to explore and learn new things from the PhD students working in the SLM department.
The working group there is very international and welcoming, and the communication was entirely in English.
Accommodation and the city
It is usually hard to find accommodation in the Netherlands. However, I had no problem with finding a room to sublet from another student, who was studying in the university and leaving for the summer. I found the room on a Facebook group created by Wageningen students. The dormitory was close to the university (10 minutes by bike), which is comfortable for everyday commute.
Wageningen is a small city, but very green and very beautiful, so most of the leisure activities include going for walks in nature, visiting botanic gardens, cycling or going to the cinema. The university itself has a lot of leisure activities for students, like doing various sports or going to the gym. The SLM department also has a ping-pong table, which many employees use during their lunch breaks.
I would recommend this internship to people who can work in the lab more or less independently. Although I could communicate with my supervisor every day, the job required me to solve a lot of problems on my own. If you are new to the field or would prefer more supervision, I would suggest trying another department of Wageningen. This department, however, is very open for students wanting to do an internship and I am sure they will accept trainees in the future.”