Sweden for beginners – Sandro’s internship abroad in Gothenburg

My name is Sandro. At the moment, I am completing training as an IT specialist in application development at COSMO CONSULT in Münster, Germany. I think that internships abroad are not only useful for students, but also for us trainees. That is why I had been looking for a way to integrate an internship abroad into my training program. And it has worked out. Not a whole semester, but a month. The "Reaching out for Europe" program, sponsored by the Ludwig Erhardt Berufsskolleg in Münster and supported by the state, is making it possible. It was very important to me that I do the internship abroad within the COSMO CONSULT group. And I absolutely wanted to go to an English-speaking location - or at least in a country where I could get by in English. Austria and Switzerland were thus out of the running. And I regularly spend my holidays in France, Spain and Italy. In Sweden, I am now getting to know a country that I may not get a chance to come back to quite so quickly. Here is my report.

Day 1 - After a flight that took about two and a half hours I arrived in Gothenburg early on a Saturday night. My accommodations in Björkekärr, a district in the southeast of the city, were easy to find. That left me enough time to explore the adjacent park, which is more like a forest.

Day 2 - On Sunday I took a bus to the city to get a first look at my new home. Gothenburg is a city with a lot of green, a great atmosphere and very relaxed people. After an extensive tour of the city, I wanted to see my new workplace at least from the outside. I spontaneously decided to make the trip to the COSMO CONSULT branch office so that nothing would go wrong on the way to the office the next day.

Day 3 - On Monday, I was in the office by a quarter to nine. My first day of work began with a comprehensive round of introductions. This is how I met many of my new colleagues. Magnus, my mentor, was still on vacation. This meant I could still do some small jobs for Münster in between. The rest of the time I spent on my final project.

Day 4 - Whereas in Germany many colleagues eat their lunch at their desk or sit together in small groups, lunch is teamwork in Gothenburg. Here people always spend the lunch break together. Sometimes there is even enough time for a little walk. That meant diligently collecting steps for the "Global Challenge", the fitness program COSMO CONSULT participates in.

Day 5 - The Swedish COSMONAUTS are really nice. When I am around, they always make sure to try to speak English. And when that does not work, someone translates the content of the conversation for me immediately. Today marks the start of the Kulturkalaset in Gothenburg. The largest cultural festival of the city traditionally takes place in the last week of Sweden’s summer holidays. Then the entire inner city turns into a mixture of food stand, concert stage and circus with audience participation. The program includes about 1,100 events both small and large. Every year, around 700,000 people come to the festival.

Day 6 - Yesterday evening I became the proud owner of a bicycle! My "guest family", who lives on the floor below me, brought it from their summer house and repaired it during the week. From now on I will no longer be dependent on the bus. In Gothenburg you can get everywhere by bike - almost like in Münster.

Day 7 - Every Friday people have breakfast in the office after the weekly team meeting. Then the entire office meets in the kitchen and has breakfast in a relaxed atmosphere. In the afternoon we then - fitting for the start of the weekend - said goodbye to three colleagues with a few glasses of sparkling wine and two cakes.

Days 8 & 9 - I used the weekend to go on a hike with my roommate through the southern skerries near Gothenburg. Beautiful. By the way, if you burp in Sweden, you do not say "Schulz", but rather "doorknob", and you have to touch a door handle as quickly as possible!

Day 10 - My team manager Magnus is back from his vacation. My first task is to make a tutorial that describes how to create custom report layouts with Word Templates - one for a sales offer and one for a lease. In Sweden they had apparently not discovered the subject yet. I think my team leader only just now realized that I already have some experience with Dynamics NAV. He's thinking about what the best thing would be to have me do. I'm curious to see what he decides.

Day 11 - The the Word templates have kept me busy for most of the day on Tuesday as well. There was still a bit of time to introduce me to a new programming language - it's called "C#".

Day 12 - My next tutorial: this time it is about how to set up virtual machines with PowerShell and install Dynamics NAV on them. These can then be accessed via browser, remote desktop, or tablet. It is an exciting topic that is completely new to me. In general, tutorials are a great format. Instead of figuring everything out on your own, you benefit from existing knowledge, use sample scripts and reach your goal faster.

Day 13 - So far I have used my free time for long walks. Either into the city or in the adjacent park. The lake there is said to be the warmest in the region. I really want to go swimming there. There is always something new to discover in Gothenburg.

Day 14 - On Friday I finally got my first programming tasks following the obligatory breakfast - the sandwiches are provided by COSMO CONSULT, by the way. On the one hand there was a bug fix on a fact box of the sales order page. And there were a few report adjustments. Because the Swedish reporting gurus were not in the office, my colleague Helen came to me.

Day 15 - On Saturday I went by bus to Marstrand. That is a small skerry north of Gothenburg where the Carlsten Fortress is located. The fortress used to be a prison. It was a journey through the centuries, with features ranging from secret tunnels and drawbridges to old prison cells. Afterwards I enjoyed a coffee in one of the many cafes on Marstrand. In the evening, my host family invited me to dinner. They had a visit from America over the weekend.

Day 16 - I used Sunday to take a small bike ride in the adjacent park. The sunny weather was really great. Since my landlords rent out two other rooms, there is always something going on in the house. We take trips to the city, cook and eat dinner together.

Day 17 & 18 - In the meantime I have been able to take on more and more programming tasks. Always for the same customer. Usually report adaptations. There seem to be a lot of them. Otherwise, I am creating various PowerShell scripts and am working on the virtual machine to simplify the tutorial. I have programmed a small user interface in C#. It creates a script with all the necessary parameters and then runs it in PowerShell. That way my Swedish colleagues will have less work to do when they set up NAV hosting on a virtual machine.

Day 19 - The botanical garden was on the agenda on Wednesday. There are around 16,000 different plant species to be seen here. Very impressive! Directly adjacent to it is an inviting nature reserve with many small lakes and hiking trails where you can take a walk.

Day 20 - On Thursday, I followed the advice of my landlord, worked up my courage and went swimming in the lake before work. It was really very warm!

Day 21 - On Friday, I presented my little project about virtual machines. People made some more requests, which I will implement into the project over the course of next week. In the afternoon there was the obligatory cake before the weekend started.

Day 22 - On Friday evening I flew back to Germany. No, not because of homesickness. My parents were celebrating their silver wedding anniversary on Saturday.

Day 23 - On Sunday I went back to Sweden.

Day 24 - On monday I made some final changes for the PowerShell scripts. After that I had a call with a colleague from Stockholm who helped me to set up the NAV web client. Finally I did a little bit of research and finalised my little project.

Day 25 - Tuesday was my last real working day. I was allowed to prepare a little presentation on all my projects and tasks that I completed during my internship in Sweden. At the end I was given some useful feedback and suggestions to take home with me. In the afternoon me and another colleague had our goodbye with cake and coffee. Having a "Fika" (swedish for making coffee and cake breaks) is really popular in Sweden.

As a farewell gift I was given a nice card, a swedish tourist sweatshirt and a cap by my team.

Day 26 - On wednesday I was able to sleep a bit longer then usual. Later I went to the office to say goodbye to the colleagues that weren't there on tuesday. 
In the afternoon my flight to Berlin and the Annual Conference left. This was very useful for me because I had two days of vacation. Wednesday I went to look at the fishmarket of Gothenburg called "Feskeköra" which means Fish-Church. The market is situated next to the water canal and actually looks like a church from the outside. After the market I went to the Museum of Arts.

Day 27 - Thursday I spent my time at the "beach" of one of the numerous lakes in Gothenburg. The water was still warm enough to swim. In the evening my guest family invited me to eat some traditional tacos.

Day 28 - On friday my stay in Sweden ended and I took a flight back home at around midday.

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