29 APR 2020 - Source: LinkedinPart of a master program "Water Resources Engineering and Management", the University of Stuttgart provides opportunities for studying and training abroad. The ERASMUS program organises these opportunities, which not only offers the best possible exchange experiences but also supports required necessities. As such, I went to a voluntary internship program at the International Hydropower Association - IHA in the United Kingdom.

The International Hydropower Association is, located in the diverse city of London, in the core of England. They offered me an opportunity as a Knowledge building intern (now known as Research and Policy Internship) at the Research and Policy team of the company. As an international student, the requirements of a visa, the visa process and formalities are inevitable. With the excellent support of the Erasmus Team and WAREM program, I was able to get a visa on time for the start of the exchange program. Therefore, I could successfully finish the five-months internship at IHA.

The company welcomed me warmly since the beginning of the traineeship. The team offered me many learning opportunities throughout the journey. Having two supervisors had enormously contributed to the quality of my work. Daily conversations across the organisations and working groups of IHA had positively impacted my ability to communicate in the professional working environment.

Since I am enrolled in a master program under the track of Hydraulic Engineering, the theoretically gained knowledge from the courses successfully reinforced in the practical implementation of those in the research topics. I have learned the working principles and the broad overview of each component of the Sustainable Hydropower Sector development and operation. My contribution and research on sediment management, Clean Energy System and Hydropower Sector Climate Resilience Guide had further broadened my understanding of each working diversity. As the company works internationally, I also was given a chance to focus on the regional research component. The closer link to work on Myanmar and India enriched my knowledge of the Hydropower sector from both technical and socio-economic viewpoints. The emphasis that I work on gender involvement at Myanmar Hydropower Sector opened my eyes on the current issues my home country Myanmar is facing in the Integrated Water Management Sector. Overall, these learning opportunities had led me to afterwards focus my master thesis on sustainable reservoir management at the University of Stuttgart.

Furthermore, I attained the professional relationships and international network through this internship. International Hydropower Association holds the biennial conference of Hydropower Sector. And this year (2019), it conducted the "7th World Hydropower Congress" at the beautiful city of Paris, France. The preparation of the congress, the events itself and the post-congress reports, enforced my inter-communicational, organisational skills, and flexibility while working together with various professionals coming from diverse backgrounds. Moreover, the biannual board meetings of the company taught me the importance of international organisational structure. 

Beside the professional working environment, I had successfully built the community relationship and friendship with both local and international residents. Because of the long history between the United Kingdom and my home-country Myanmar, I was able to meet the Burmese communities who reside in London. Through this network, I celebrated the Myanmar New Year traditionally as in Myanmar. Furthermore, I was invited to visit the headquarters of BBC Broadcasting Centre. On the other hand, many of my friends are living across the United Kingdom, and I had a chance to reunite with them. Similarly, I paid a visit to the headquarter of the "Prospect Burma" organisation, which supported my educational journey in Germany. Through the provision of this Erasmus program, I could reinforce a stronger relationship with different communities. 

During the holiday, I could experience the natural beauty of the United Kingdom through travelling. As my internship fell upon the summer period, the blossoming of flowers in the countryside of England is cultivating. Witnessing different colour patterns and the natural beauty of English countryside during summer reminded me of my childhood - reading the English literature with the longing of experiencing them. Seeing the highlands of Scotland and hiking the mountainous Snowdonia in Wales filled my heart with excitement and happiness. Similarly, the Giant Causeways and the beauty of Northern Ireland gave a lifetime memory of having witnessed the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The diverse culture in the United Kingdom has further uplifted my cultural understanding to be a global citizen.

To conclude, this internship impacted me both professional and my personal growth. This joyful and exhilarating experience had delighted me to enjoy life while learning. I would love to recommend and encourage everyone to sign up for the Erasmus Exchange or Internship during their educational journey.