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United Arab Emirates

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Jens Van heirle


Home country

Belgium

Internship city and country

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Internship employer

SAASST

University study field

Aerospace engineering

Year of internship

2019

Internship length

4 weeks


Work

I was scrolling through the different IAESTE internships until I came across this one at Sharjah Center for Astronomy and Space Sciences (SCASS), right next to the city center of Dubai. Living abroad and working in the aerospace sector seemed like an exciting adventure; it definitely was! SCASS, or Sharjah Academy for Astronomy Space Sciences and Technology (SAASST) as it is called nowadays, is a high tech research facility. I worked with GNSS data (a general term for GPS), to calculate positions of users like your phone. Apart from this challenge, there was also a workshop about very small satellites (CubeSats). Not only did I see the technical side, this internship also brought me to a UAE Space Agency conference. Every research group in the country, the Japanese space agency and various Japanese private businesses presented the progress on their research and gave proposals for future projects. The UAE Space Agency decides how much each project gets funded. It is unique as an outsider to see how these kinds of organizational decisions are made.

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Experience

IAESTE isn’t all about work, it is also about experiencing. The weekend starts on Thursday night and ends Saturday night in the UAE. I had a very good relationship with my colleagues at work. We even met asides from the working hours to have dinner together or to take the car and explore the country. IAESTE also organizes activities each week and that’s good because there is a lot to see in Dubai. The tallest building in the world Burj Khalifa, huge aquariums, the Dubai frame, the Palm, the souks in old Dubai,... Dubai is perfect during the day to be a tourist and at night there are a lot of different clubs to experience nightlife. I was so lucky to have met local and international people who wanted to show me both aspects of the city. I feel like I really experienced the United Arabic Emirates. Dubai was the main place to go, but I also visited other places of interest like the Sjeik Zayed Mosque in the capital Abu Dhabi, the Rain Room in Sharjah and the zoo in Al Ain. However, it is not these places that made the biggest impression on me. It’s the endless hospitality of the Arabian people and the ease to become friends with internationals.

Discover

My IAESTE-internship was an unforgettable experience, one of the best decisions I made so far. It allowed me to gain experience as an aerospace engineer and I met a lot of wonderful people. It’s amazing to discover a country with new international friends. If you have any doubt about going on an internship abroad: just do it!