ISOIS ▸ Final reports

Host country:
Host institution:
Mobility type:
Ac. year:
Study level:
Language filled in:

CAAT, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, USA

USA 2021/2022 Freemovers

Personal data
Mobility type:

Faculty at MU:
Faculty of Science

Field of study:
Environmental Health Sciences

Level of study during period of placement:

Language used:

Summer/winter school?:

Period of studies:
autumn 2021

Period of placement (from-to):
2021-09-01 - 2021-12-31

Number of months:

Activities before my departure abroad
What was your approach in organising the placement?:
I got in contact with the host institution in Autumn 2020 and talked about the project that I could work on. After that, we had several meetings regarding the project planning, visa arrangements, documents and the funding requirements for a J1 visa. After my supervisor and all the people involved agreed, I applied for the various resources of funding possible.

What documents are required for acceptance on a placement at this organisation?:
Several documents were required for acceptance at this organisation:
1) The most important document was the document stating my monthly funding meeting the visa requirement
2) I had to fill out several online forms for the registration and initiation of the process
3) DS-2019 was another document required from the US government
4) J1 visa

How far ahead did acceptance have to be organised? (in weeks):
The acceptance was organised 3 months ahead of August but arranging all the documents took longer than expected.

Did you need a visa?:

Documents and materials needed for a visa:
1) DS-2019
2) Passport

Fee for the visa:
$160 was the visa fees.

During the placement
Did you change the training agreement in the course of your placement (training agreement)?:
No. I only had to change my travel dates due to the delays in VISA.

What is necessary to arrange immediately on arrival? What requirements and at which offices?:
1) It was necessary to get an I-Card
2) It was necessary to fill out an online student arrival form within 3 days of arrival (I-94 is obtained from the US immigration site )

Describe your work/activity in the foreign organisation. Describe what specifically you did, whether the work corresponded to the agreed conditions and your field of study, and whether your work was independent and responsible, approximate working hours.:
I worked on the developmental neurotoxicity assessment of flame retardants. Flame retardants are chemicals that are added to consumer products to delay the risk of fire propagation. Here at CAAT, I did this using the 3D brain organoid, also referred to as " mini-brains". I did this using various techniques and assays such as resazurin assay (for cytotoxicity assessment), qPCR (for gene analysis ), fluorescence microscopy (for the neurite outgrowth) and confocal microscopy.

The work corresponded to the agreed conditions and my field of study (Environmental health sciences ). My work was independent and I worked for 40 hours/week approximately.

Did the organisation or local student organisations arrange any special events for foreign students on placements?:

If yes then what?:

Practical questions on your placement
Where did you live?:
I lived in private accommodation. It was a two-bedroom apartment which sharing kitchen and own bathroom.

Cost of accommodation - monthly:
803 USD

Additional comments to the price of accommodation (as to what the price includes):
The price is $803 only including rent. I also had to pay rental insurance which is around $3, and wifi around $15.
This rent did not include electricity and gas which was about $25/ month.
Also, there was a coin laundry so for one round of washing/drying it was $1.75

Who arranged your accommodation and how far ahead:
I arranged my accommodation myself 2 months in advance. I found my flatmates on Facebook groups.

Equipment, internet connection, what to bring:
It s good to bring a multicountry adapter and kitchenware. Otherwise, everything is easily available here.
You can get a sim here which is around $15 per month and gives 2.5GB of data/month.

What are the rough costs of groceries (compare with Czech prices):
$300/month or more.

Transport to location of placement:
There was a free university shuttle from my apartment to the school.

Approximate price:
Since the shuttle was free, I paid nothing.

Tips for purchasing cheap tickets and other recommendations:
1) I booked my tickets only ten days before my trip and the prices were okay.
2) It is always good to compare different airlines and also their baggage requirement
3) The flights with more layover has cheaper ticket
4) Bring some USD coins with you as it's required to get a trolley at the airport and is not free

What are the local transport options (public transport, cycling, on foot, rough prices):
Local transportation is not good here. The bus is one of the options which costs around $4 one-way ticket.

How did you use health insurance? What type?:
I got University health insurance which is required to take by a J1 scholar. People can also get private insurance if it covers the need of J1 insurance.

Did you have other insurance? Which?:

Experience with insured events:
1) I had stone pain once and I was charged around $115 for my X-ray. All the medicines were mostly covered under insurance.
2) I had a fracture in my foot so I was not charged for my X-ray in the emergency department.

Tips for recreation:
Anyone can go to harbour. Other places like DC, NY are 3 hours away by train so people can travel there.

Financial support and expenses
Monthly grant from the Centre for International Cooperation:
16000 CZK

What other sources did you make use of to finance your placement?:
I applied for A6 scholarship, I used IGA muni and I applied for the graduate fellowship by IFER.

What was your average monthly expenditure during the placement (i.e. without the travel there and back)?:
1600 USD

a/ of which for accommodation:
850 USD

b/ of which for catering:
400 USD

c/ travel and recreation:
200 USD

Any comments to the average monthly expenditure:
Also Insurance whihc was for $363+ initially $200 for eye and dental insurance as well.

Experience with bank accounts/services. Do you recommend an account arranged abroad, use of Czech payment cards...:
I did not open an bank account here since I was receiving my stipend in CZK.

Did you pay to foreign organisations any fees? (insurance, materials, etc.):

Did you receive a salary from the host business/organisation?:

If yes, what was your monthly salary?:
0 ???

Other advantages from the host organisation?:
1) Really good environment to learn
2) Opportunity to build on skill set
3) You get trained for everything

Is it necessary to assume a larger amount at the start of the placement? If yes, what and for what purpose?:
Yes, I think the USA is really expensive.

Recognition of the foreign placement at the home faculty
Is the traineeship part of your field of study?:

If yes - is it a compulsory or optional part?:
It is recommended and compulsory in most cases.

How will your traineeship abroad be recognised at the home faculty?:

How many ECTS credits did you/will you get?:

Were there serious problems arranging recognition of the placement?:

Overall assessment
Assessment of personal benefit (1 = excellent):

Assessment of academic benefit (1 = excellent):

Do you agree with the statement that, thanks to the experience gained during the placement you will be able to further develop your skills for work in your field?:
Yes, I agree entirely and am grateful for my experience at CAAT, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, USA. For me, it was an incredible opportunity to grow both personally and professionally.

What did you most appreciate after completing your placement?:
There are so many things to appreciate after my placement abroad:
1) It was great to be in a different country and different work environment as things work really differently at different places
2) The most important for me to enhance my technical skills which I entirely did

Any serious problems during the placement?:

Do you have any recommendation for those that follow you? (e.g. what to take with them):
Yes. I would like to recommend approaching the university as much in advance as possible in order to get the visa on time.
otherwise, we get all the things here.
Also, while in the USA take the utmost care of yourself. Even though the insurance covers a lot, the bills are still difficult to pay at times.