International Co-op: Working & living in the land of Jacques Brel
While I am certain that many of many of my classmates back home are buried between the pages of their textbooks, I have been presented with the opportunity to learn in a completely different environment through the UVic co-op program.
Having now lived for a month in Flanders, Belgium, getting to know my way around on bicycle and acquiring a taste for the local cuisine, I am confident in saying that I don’t regret my decision to come and work here for my first internship.
Deciding at the last minute to fly across the Atlantic for a job may seem a bit daunting for some people, but the experiences and the people I have met along the way so far encourage me to highly recommend taking a work term abroad as a UVic co-op student if the opportunity presents itself. Currently, I am working alongside some third year students on a project given to us by Belgium’s largest family owned construction group, Willemen.
Presently, I have been learning about the hardware side of applied informatics as well as implementing long range wireless networks. The ICT program at Thomas Kempen More in Geel has a good mix of hardware and software development from the start of their program.
It seems that many of the students here will graduate having experienced classes that explore topics covered in electronic engineering, software engineering and computer science as a part of their program. Students then have the choice of pursuing further studies for a master’s diploma or a PhD with the University of Leuven.
Much of my days have been spent getting to know how the LoRa system of communication works and how we can adapt this emerging technology to the internet of things (IoT). This new technology will allow microcontrollers to communicate over much longer distances than currently possible and thus, it opens many new possibilities when it comes to adapting computer science and electronic engineering for helping people in their daily lives on a wide network in ways not previously possible.
I have been invited to a conference in Leuven in early March covering these topics, so it will be very interesting to see where my interests in computer science and medicine will fit into the ideas being presented.
Among making friends with roommates whose pastimes include drunkenly collecting road furniture, I have adapted well to my new home and work setting. Since the country is very flat, the sunsets and sunrises in Belgium are seldom obstructed by large hills; this results in some absolutely great photo opportunities. I have been able to visit Antwerp and Ghent so far and I plan on heading over to Bruges next week with some friends.
This co-op term has certainly started on a very positive note for me and I hope that students interested in undertaking a work term abroad to give it a shot.
If you have any questions about my placement or my application process for working abroad, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be more than happy to help.
Good luck with your next round of midterms.