Who? Mirte Lindhout, MSc student of Health and Society
What? Internship at the University of Newcastle
Where? Newcastle, Australia
‘In my first few days in Australia I often asked myself what I was doing there. It was raining when I arrived, I didn’t know anybody, I had terrible jetlag and no room. In the hostel I wondered what I had let myself in for. But after a few days I was living in a big international house, I had got to know some people and I had started on my internship.
I worked on a PhD study of sports and exercise programmes at secondary schools throughout the state of New South Wales. The programmes offered strength training, mainly making use of your own body weight. I researched the barriers and enablers for sports teachers who were implementing those programmes. To find out what they were, we interviewed the teachers.
I emailed the research centre in advance to tell them what my interests were, and they soon had a suitable internship for me. Then all I had to do was arrange a visa and a flight – so the preparations were very easy. I worked at the office from nine to five, which took some getting used to. Sometimes I prepared interview questions or attended a meeting, but I also did a lot of auxiliary work. The most valuable thing about it for me was seeing for the first time how a research project works in reality. I found out how you plan and implement something like that, and I learned a lot from that.
I had never been outside Europe and I wanted to go to an English-speaking, developed country. The relaxed mentality in Australia attracted me a lot, and luckily there was plenty of that around. Actually, all your ideas about Australians are right. They say ‘cheers’, they barbecue and surf a lot, and they go to the beach. I was there from September to January, so it was the middle of summer in Australia. After my internship I spent a month travelling and in that period it was sometimes too hot to do anything in the daytime. But most of the time it was just lovely weather. I went out and about at weekends, and that made Australia the perfect place for me. And the fact that I met my boyfriend there – one of my housemates – increases the chances of me going back.’