Many of you have been wondering what it is that I do exactly. So I will tell you something about my internship; what I have been doing the past months, what it was like to meet the people I e-mailed so much with, but had never seen them and what my first weeks on the job were like.
First, I’ll tell you a little bit of what I am doing here. I am being trained to work as a research assistant at the Centre for Community Child Health, which is part of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and is situated in the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. In February the study ‘Child Health CheckPoint’ started in Melbourne and will travel through the country afterwards. The Child Health CheckPoint is a physical assessment for about 3,000 children and their parents throughout Australia. The kids and parents come to the assessment centre where many measurements are taken, such as lung function, fitness, oral health, vision, cardio vascular status, etc. Within the study I will mainly be working on the food station; an experiment where food choices and eating behaviour of the kids and parents are tested. If you are interested in the study, you can read more about it on: http://www.mcri.edu.au/lsac-childhealthcheckpoint
A few days before I would start my internship, I dropped by to meet my supervisor and colleagues. I met my supervisor, Jess, who I sent hundreds of emails, but had never seen (not even on Skype). She showed me around and I felt at home immediately. I mean, she started with showing me the meerkat enclosure; what’s not to love?! After that she introduced me to some colleagues. She told me that everybody was really stressed, so I expected that no one would have time for me and some people might be a bit blunt – just like Dutch people when they are stressed. Instead, I got the warmest welcome ever; everybody was so friendly and the director of the centre even gave me a hug. Culture shock number one: people here are the nicest people, even though they are stressed (except when driving, but that will be another story).
On my very first day I got lost when changing trams and was late (which may not come as a surprise to those of you that know me well). Luckily everyone was compassionate with the little Dutch girl who got lost in the big city. That day I met a few medical students who also started on the Child Health CheckPoint. In the next weeks many more students and research assistants started on the job (15 in total). We form a ‘gezellige’ group. I am glad that I have met these people. They are always keen on telling me about the ins and outs of the city and help me out when needed. My colleagues make the job even more fun and –cliché, but true – the time flies!