Thomas is an Erasmus student in Sport Sciences
- The most interesting part of the internship is the research. As a strength coach I base my work on it, therefore it is enriching to be able to do my own work on mentoring in sport coaching, says Thomas Courbon, Erasmus student from Germany who is doing a two-month internship at the Department of Food and Nutrition and Sport Science (IKI) and the Center for Health and Performance (CHP).
It was a coincidence that Thomas ended up in Gothenburg for his internship.
– I met Professor Astrid Schubring at a symposium in Jyväskylä, Finland. She gave a captivating presentation on how athletes become world-class, through the social science lens. During the coffee break, I asked her "Hello, do you take any interns?" It worked.
During his internship he works with the research project STEPS - Advancing Sustainable Youth Performance Sport: an interdisciplinary research collaboration network, the Swedish National Sports University (RIU) Gothenburg but mainly participating in a research project on mentoring in the context of sport coaching at CHP.
– Here I’m taking my first baby steps into the research world through the writing of a literature review. And if, like me before starting, you have no idea what that is, it is kind of a summary of the actual scientific literature on a topic, where the goal is to find key outlines in a particular direction. Here, we are focusing on formalised mentoring programmes.
Thomas has also done some more practical work.
– I have been helping in developing better strength testing protocols with all the technology here and wrote an article on strength training, go read it and make me famous, Thomas says with a laugh.
The work environment
Thomas enjoys the work environment and is something valuable that he wants to share.
– The workplace is amazing! Colleagues are really much more like friends, the atmosphere is really everything I could dream of. This allows me to pursue my nerdy research endeavors in good conditions and I’m learning a ton. Everyone always takes the time to answer my questions, discuss with me about everything from the latest TV show on HBO to the most niche and geek subjects out there, including but not limited to World of Warcraft and it makes the overall experience that much more enjoyable.
– Also, since the only Swedish words I know are precis, absolut and most importantly fika, it is nice to see everyone has a perfect English level which permits smooth communication.
When asking Thomas about if he has noticed any culture clashes between Germany and Sweden or in the social life, he answers.
– To be honest, not that much. People here are pretty similar to Germans. You guys are definitely more Viking-ish though. I tried to come here without stereotypes in mind, but I am sorry to say that the clichés are true. Only Vikings climb over the bridge (Hisingsbron) in the middle of the city when it is CLOSED, he says with a smile.
– Apart from that, everyone here, including elderly people, has an amazing English level, which is definitely not the case in Germany where only the youth can speak it fluently. Also, even if people don’t really socialize a lot with each other (stranger to stranger), I have the feeling that people are warmer when you actually talk to them in comparison with in Munich where I live. The opposite is true for the weather though, I will forever be traumatized by seeing snow and -8 Celsius in March.
– I also see a big difference in the city life itself, as a tourist, I am, of course, biased, but it seem to me that the overall city is a bit livelier than Munich. Gothenburg has a bigger student life so to speak. The neighborhoods has kept that picturesque atmosphere, the coffee places are amazing, and I definitely need to take a look at all those beautiful islands around.
Thomas has a vivid freetime. As a powerlifter, he is active with training but also with his coaching business.
– I go to the gym four times a week and also do some Nogi Jiu-Jitsu two-three times a week. I have an online coaching business that I need to run, so basically, I am either doing some sports or working with clients. My girlfriend joined me here halfway through my internship, that made everything even better, so whenever I wasn’t working (a rare occurrence), we visited the city together.
Plans for the future
Thomas has specific plans both in the near term and in the future.
– In the near future, I’ll just focus on growing my business, but working with athletes more specifically would be nice. Right now, I’m still an undergrad at sport science, but I will probably pursue a Master's Degree. Working in research more, at least part-time, is also on my to-do long-term. Who knows, maybe I’ll apply for a Master's Degree here.
Thomas says that he always believed in investing time and energy in people, and that this internship definitely confirms his opinion and is something that he will take with him from University of Gothenburg.
– The amount of stuff I learned just by making small-talk and going on a tangent on life is really mind-blowing. I made friends, deep and meaningful connections with a plethora of great individuals, and everyone matched my nerdiness. My biggest thanks and lot of kudos to IKI and the whole team at CHP. My internship rocks, and will definitely end too soon.
Text: Helena Svensson