Thijs Egelmeers

29th of August 2016 till 11th of November 2016

The first time I went to Patrick, I told him, “I want to go as far away from the Netherlands as possible”. Preferably I wanted to go to the United States of America to improve my English. I was told Patrick had a lot of connections so I thought I would have enough choice to pick a suitable location, however only 2 or 3 universities remained after I told Patrick what my interests were.  The only location remained after following up some advice and being declined at the other location was the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, the same location where Marco van Erp went to. I only had a different professor, professor Crosby, who is an expert in bio inspired materials. I had never heard of this University and professor before, so I thought the research level would not be so high. I have never been so wrong in my life, it was the 4th best Polymer program in the United States. There were a lot of students that conducted research over 60 hours a week.

My assignment there was to investigate extreme fast deforming materials, and to investigate the reversibility of this extreme motion. Furthermore I also designed a new machine that can characterize or test materials for high strain and high strain rate applications. 

Next to my research there are a lot of things going on in Amherst, however I really needed to do effort to get to know people. I expected that I could go out with the people from my lab, however I found out most of them where above 30, had a wife and children, or weren’t really that social. Luckily for my the week I arrived an international student orientation program was running and I asked if I could join them. Here I made plenty of friends, most of them were German, where I could hang out with. I joined a  German soccer team and we participated in the a soccer competition of teams that also studied in Amherst. The nice thing is that we won this competition, and now I am on the wall of fame in the Recreation center of Amherst. I also joined a volleyball team and I my spare time I liked to hit the gym, go for a run or go out with my mountain bike. The nature there is beautiful and there are a lot of mountains, so it is the perfect environment to mountain bike. Furthermore it is an American university so watching a game of College football or basketball is a nice way to spend your time

Unfortunately 2 days before my internship ended I got into an accident and I had to go to the hospital. I can tell you from experience that the service in the hospital is expensive and bad, so bad that I got an infection. I arrived at 9.30 AM and it wasn’t until 14.00 PM when a doctor came and visit me. Luckily I did not break any thing I just had few scratches, contusion, and some deep cuts that needed stitching. But I recovered fast and I could still travel.

A few friends and me rented a car and we travelled Canada. First to Niagara falls, then we continued and went to Toronto, after that we went to Montreal, and finally we went back to Amherst. Then I continued on my own to Washington D.C., which is a great city and especially cheap. There are a lot of important buildings that you can see, such as the white house and the memorials. Furthermore there are 19 museums that have free entrance including the zoo. The next and final stop was Richmond in Virginia. A friend of mine was doing an exchange program there, so I decided to visit him. During my stay in Amherst I also spend a nice long weekend in New York City with my girlfriend, and I saw Boston. In short it was an amazing experience where I learned a lot.