Stan Looijmans

July 14th 2016 till October 14th 2016

“Patrick, I would like to do my internship in a country in southern Europe. Not just to escape from the rain in Holland but also because I would like to live there in the future.” These were the first words I wrote when I started planning my internship. Two or three emails later, Italy it was. Genova to be more precise, a city with about 800.000 inhabitants on the beautiful coast of Liguria. Arrangements were made swiftly, and a few months later I joined the group of Polymer Crystallization at the department of Chemistry of the Universita degli studi di Genova.

Unlike most Italian cities, Genova is not very touristic, which allowed me to truly experience the Italian way of living. With a studio ten minutes from the Mediterranean sea, there was always the opportunity to relax after a long day of work. Since for Italians it is no exception to have dinner around 10 p.m., the city center is lively until long past midnight. Next to the festivals which are organized almost weekly, there are bars and restaurants on the corner of every street. During the weekends and holidays, many inhabitants of the city decide to visit family and friends living at the countryside. The district of Liguria has however many little, picturesque villages in the valleys between the mountains, which are absolutely worth visiting in the weekends. The best probably Cinque Terre, five small villages built on the cliffs near the water. The large natural park in which Cinque Terre is situated offers a beautiful walk between the villages. With cities like Turin, Milan, Florence, Pisa, Monaco and Nice all within two and a half hours from Genova, there was not a single moment I was bored. Compared to the Netherlands, public transport in Italy is generally cheap, which makes travelling even more attractive.

The university itself is, unlike the TU/e, spread all over the city, with the department of Chemistry situated on a hill about 2 km from the city center. In the lab I carried out my project, which was, as the name of the group suggests, about polymer crystallization. The goal was to study and quantify the effect of cross-nucleation in polypropylene. Like in many universities in Italy, the research budgets are not very high, however it is amazing to see how much can be achieved with the use of innovative techniques and thinking, without spilling any resources. Most people are always willing to help each other with scientific problems and therefore within the whole department there is a pleasant atmosphere. With the combination of all this I gained a lot of lab experience and met a lot of nice people, making my stay in Italy one I won’t forget easily.