Marie Angot, a 21-year-old Frenchwoman, is studying Chemical Engineering in Strasbourg. Her passion for science aroused her interest in Radiochemistry – a subject that, according to the academic program, Marie shall theoretically study next year. However, this interest prevailed and the student began to look for opportunities for practical training. Therefore, in May this year for three months she became part of the team of the Radiochemistry Section in the Specialized Division Decommissioning of Units 1-4 at SERAW.
Tell us the most important thing about you. Who is Marie Angot?
I come from France. I live in Normandy, but I’m getting my education in Strasbourg where I am a student. I want to become a Chemical Engineer, that’s my goal. Before that, however, I have to complete an internship. That is the reason why I started looking for an opportunity for an internship in the field of Radiochemistry. And that’s why I’m here.
How did it happen that it was SERAW that came into your view in the pursuit of professional orientation?
This was not my choice exactly. I can say that rather SERAW chose me. I sent my CV to many radiochemical laboratories across Europe. SERAW was the first company that responded to my request and here I am!
A Chemical Engineer? What is attractive in this profession for you?
I like the theory. I like chemistry. I can do many different things with it. The main thing I want in my work is to feel useful and to have the opportunity to work and meet many people.
Does the theory overlap with practice?
In fact, I am going to study Radiochemistry as a subject next year. I am familiar with the basics of the theory because it is very interesting to me and I read. This is my personal interest in science.
That is, you already have the basis for next year, to amaze your radiochemistry teacher with this previously gathered practice?
Yes, precisely. I will study radiochemistry next year and I think I will have absolutely no problem with it.
How do you feel at the end of this three-month internship? What would you define as useful for your development?
I gained a lot of knowledge and a lot of technical skills during this internship. I learned, for example, how to work with the three types of instruments used to record alpha-, beta- and gamma-radiation, in order to perform the measurements, taken in this laboratory. I also learned about different aspects of team management. And I really liked everything I saw here – both from a human and a professional point of view. I feel extremely grateful that I met a person like Galya as my research supervisor – definitely a professional who not only loves science and her work, but has actually dedicated a significant part of her life to them. And I’m sure both parties have only benefited from this!
What are your impressions of Bulgaria beside the professional plan?
Very friendly people! And a very beautiful country… I got convinced with my own eyes when I visited Plovdiv, Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo, the Rocks of Belogradchik, Rila Monastery and Kozloduy, of course.
Did you manage to find any significant differences between France and Bulgaria?
Actually, we have a lot in common. Including words – I’m surprised how many words overlap in the two languages. What I could not get used to and I’ve always found it strange, is how you express “yes” and “no” with your head – vice versa. I know there is a legend that explains the reason, they told it to me, but I could never get used to this reverse order when communicating with people here. The other huge difference is that the supermarkets are open on Sundays. In France, this can be seen only in the capital or in some tourist areas, but not in other places.
What would you take away from here when you leave for home?
All the photos I managed to take from all over the country, a lot of beautiful memories and, of course, the banitsa recipe.
Galina Neshovska, Head of Radiochemistry Section:
I want to see smart and reasoning young people
Marie’s internship, together with the shortage of staff and the lack of interest in the STEM disciplines, inevitably raises the question of the dialogue between the universities and the business. The lack of such a dialogue is our, Bulgarian problem.
It is a fact that for sections like ours, where the work is specialized and highly qualified, the training must be carried out on site. Of course first is the theory, which then needs upgrading. Unfortunately our universities do not have the means to provide their students with the equipment we work with. That is why when we look for specialists, it is difficult to find them. We should not build sand castles. And we cannot afford to perform our duties as a formality, knowing the importance of what we do. That is the reason why I want to see smart and reasoning young people. I welcome Marie’s enthusiasm and love of science and I support on site training and internships in laboratories. In this young girl I find exactly what I feel for this science. It can always surprise you, even in the routine work, there is a bunch of challenges, a lot of problems that need to be solved, and you really have to give yourself to it. I am certain there aren’t many people who will go to a foreign country at the age of 21 to be interested in some part of the science that they will study later in their training course. That is why this interest in Marie fills my soul with hope. I am extremely happy that there are young people like her and that I know her. She certainly has a great future ahead of her professionally and I would be very happy if I had employees like her!