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Using Stata at Tata – Interning in Kolkata

Our students tell us about their internship working at the Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata, India! To find out more about our global internship programme for Newcastle University Business School Stage 2 students, visit our website.

Week 1

Brega and her teammate Suman from Groningen University tell us about their first week working at the Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata, India!

After a long flight we were collected on arrival to the airport. All was going smoothly until we couldn’t find Raymon (our fellow intern from Groningen University) who had landed before us. Turns out he was waiting in the car the whole time! Driving straight onto the roads was an initial shock to the system with no set lanes and cars basically driving in any possible gaps dodging cows and beeping constantly. We arrived at the guesthouse at 11am and were kindly greeted by the houseboys who showed us to our rooms. They were very welcoming and accommodating. They enjoyed feeding us up and we soon realised saying “no more food thanks” means at least one more portion is put on your plate. We met other interns from America and London at the guesthouse who invited us to join them to the mall nearby at Salt Lake to get our sim cards, thinking it would be a quick job. It actually took hours and the jet lag kicking in didn’t help but we got there eventually trying to ignore the fact they wouldn’t be activated until Wednesday! We were very shocked at the price as they gave us 70GB of data for 500 rupees which is about £6. On Sunday we went to visit Dakshineswar temple, which was very beautiful. We experienced lots of local culture and religion here and got asked for the occasional selfie, which Raymon insisted was because he was the most famous person in the Netherlands…

Sunset is very early here so we headed to Park Street (got there eventually after realising a 5 minute wait on an Uber app means at least 30 minutes) where lots of nice restaurants are located and had our first Indian meal out. It was really good but a lot of water was needed for the table!

We were excited to start our first day of work on Monday. We arrived at the Medical Centre at 8am and attended the weekly staff meeting where we introduced ourselves. We then met our supervisors who were so lovely and helpful explaining our projects to us. We are going to be working on a project researching young people’s perception on tobacco products and their knowledge on the association of tobacco use and diseases such as cancer. We will be interviewing students to find out this information and are really excited to head out to schools in the local area to start this on Monday. We spent the majority of our week reading about our research topic in the library, however we got the opportunity to join one of our supervisors in the outpatients department for the afternoon on Wednesday and on Friday we observed surgery for the first time in the operations theatre which was fascinating!! Below is a picture of the views from the Medical Centre.

The evenings after work have been fun, celebrating the 4th of July with the Americans we went for ice cream sundaes and our supervisor took us to a rooftop bar overlooking Kolkata in the city!

Week 2

Patrick tells us about his second week

After an overwhelming first week with lots to take in, we are beginning to think as a group that we are adjusting to life in Kolkata. Last weekend we decided to have a good go at sightseeing in the city centre, but we unfortunately overestimated how much we could achieve in a day. Each task needs to be adjusted to Indian time as in Kolkata we have learnt that everything is done slowly and the temperamental weather is always an issue.

We decided that on the Saturday we would see two of the best tourist sites in Kolkata, the Victoria memorial and St. Pauls Cathedral. Kolkata was the capital of British India and therefore remains marked by colonial British Architecture. Unfortunately, we had a slow start on Saturday morning and by the time we were all ready with our cameras, mosquito repellent, umbrellas and had arrived at Maidan Park, which contains the Victoria Memorial, we decided we were ready for lunch. Subsequently, after a long lunch, we suddenly realised that the memorial shuts at 5pm and we only had two hours to get from our restaurant to the site and do the tour. Therefore, when we finally arrived we managed to take a few photos outside but decided that we would come back on Sunday for the tour…

Consequently, on Sunday we all got up a bit earlier and decided we would visit Alipore Zoo and re-visit the memorial after lunch, allowing a larger chunk of time. It was great to visit a zoo in India and we all had high hopes of seeing the famous Bengal Tiger and white tiger, unfortunately as it was so hot and extremely humid we found it difficult to stay still for more than 15 minutes, and we realised that in 15 minutes in the middle of the day that most nocturnal animals do not move much, which meant we somewhat underwhelmed by both the tiger and white tiger enclosures as they were both sleeping. After our first taste of fast food in India, KFC, we returned to the Victoria memorial and took part in the tour, it was remarkable to take in the vast impact that Queen Victoria had on Calcutta.

During the week myself and Raymon have been assigned the task of analysing data for a preventative oncology program by our supervisor Soumita Ghose. This task involves using Stata and excel to arrange the data into a more suitable format in order to analyse it. We learnt this week that we would be presenting our findings in front of the Director of the Tata Medical Centre on the 31st of July which meant we are under pressure to work quickly and efficiently. Luckily, Raymon is an expert in econometrics and has been very patient in showing me some of the shortcuts available in sorting and analysing the data we’ve been given.

Working in the Tata Medical Centre has been an incredible experience so far, it’s amazing how the building stands out from the outside and inside compared to all other buildings we’ve visited so far, and we look forward to making progress with our project over the coming weeks.

Week 3

Suman, from Groningen University and Brega from Newcastle tell us about their third week

It’s crazy to think week three of our internship at the Medical Centre is finished and we are already half way, time is really flying by! The past two weeks of work have consisted of heading out to Techno India, a university close to the Medical Centre to conduct interviews with the students and create our database for tobacco in the youth. It’s been a really fun experience being able to interact with Indian students and the faculty treated us so well!

Getting many options for lunch around the university was a bonus, Suman was even brave enough to try the street food, saying it was pretty tasty for 30p. We have been working mostly on transcribing the interviews this week and are keen to start analysis next week and prepare for our presentation for the 31st.

Last weekend we travelled more around Kolkata. On Saturday we visited Belur Math temple, a very pretty place where the burning ground was an issue when having to take off our shoes to visit. We also went to Mother Teresa’s house, which was a very special experience. We tried out some more food places on Park Street, were we had a 10/10 meal at a lovely restaurant called Peter Cat, would highly recommend! On Sunday we visited Kumortuli, a place with lots of culture and tradition where locals make amazing pottery pieces for a yearly festival!  We found a floating restaurant for lunch with nice views overlooking the River Hooghly, where Patrick paid £8 for a beer and we got some good Italian food, with NO SPICE!

Unfortunately, on Monday Delhi belly hit the guesthouse. Raymon and Patrick both experienced it, so took some time to recover Tuesday and Wednesday and tried to make themselves feel better with Game of Thrones. On Wednesday evening, we attempted a trip to New Market after work, not quite accounting for Indian timing, rush hour in the rain is not a fun experience. We ended up spending 3 hours in the taxi and no market for us.

Week 4

Raymon and Patrick tell us about their fourth week working in Kolkata, India for the Tata Medical Centre!

Today is Patrick’s birthday, the first birthday which he has spent in India and in fact the first he has had in Asia. It is odd for him to be so far away from his family and friends in the UK, but it’s special to celebrate here in Kolkata with the new friends and colleagues we have met. Unfortunately, as his birthday falls in the working week we are still working today, and working hard. This is because on Monday we, along with Brega and Suman, will be presenting our projects and today we are applying the finishing touches to our slideshows. However, after the day of work is finished the celebrations will start as we will go to the centre of Kolkata and spend the evening at Park Street which is very lively on Friday nights with both local people and tourists.

As the presentation for pairs of interns is on Monday much of this week has been spent in preparation. We (Raymon & Patrick) finished their data analysis on Monday and Tuesday and have found some interesting results to present, finding the associations between the diverse socio demographics of the population of Kolkata and their knowledge and awareness of cancer. Since then we have had our creative hats on in trying to think of the most interesting way possible to present these results. Whilst doing this, we have been developing our skills with Microsoft Office packages Powerpoint and Excel with both of us able to learn from the other. We’ve also had lots of help from their supervisors whenever we have needed it.

Moreover, this week we have had a large variety of food due to Raymon discovering a second canteen in the Medical Centre.  This canteen although smaller, does offer more food than the typical chicken curry we have been eating. Therefore, this week we have tried homemade chicken pizza, chicken burgers and chicken hotdogs, which have all been very different but equally spicy! The guesthouse food has also been different this week with the houseboys giving us some onion bhajis as a snack, to Patrick’s delight as he remarkably hadn’t found any in India yet, although he may have had a spicy mouthful in the photo below…

The houseboys also learnt that we all wanted to have pizza and decided to show us their version of homemade pizza which looked different but was a nice change to curry, but not a change to the spices. They can even make pizza spicy here!

On Thursday, the two American interns from Berkeley University left the guesthouse as their time at the TMC had come to an end. It’s been great to get to know them and find out more about the University in America and the American way of life, and to talk to them about the projects they did here at Tata. It was sad to see them go but we had a nice group meal of biryani in the Guesthouse on their last night which was delicious. They will be missed.

We are not planning to do too much this weekend as we have the presentations on Monday, however as mentioned earlier we will be going for dinner tonight for Patrick’s Birthday. We also want to watch the new Christopher Nolan film in the cinema but we need to find somewhere showing it in English! The last thing we would like to do this weekend is to visit one of the largest stadiums in the world called Eden Garden (cricket stadium).

Week 5

Suman from Groningen University and Brega from Newcastle tell us about the penultimate week

With week five just finished, we can’t believe we only have one week left. Last weekend we had lots of work to do on our presentations so didn’t make it out to the city too much however we did manage to find a cinema screening the movie Dunkirk in English, with a ticket costing only £2.50 it was bargain not to be missed! We also enjoyed the experience of standing for the national anthem before the movie started. Sunday night was spend practicing our presentations for Monday morning, making sure they would run within our time limit of 20 minutes.

Monday morning came, with a slightly earlier rise than usual, we all had a few nerves but after our supervisors introduced us and the presentations began all went very smoothly and we actually really enjoyed presenting. It was pretty cool to present in front of the board containing such respected doctors who showed lots of interest in listening to us as they responded following our presentation with many questions. To receive compliments from them after it felt very rewarding. Our supervisors kindly took us out for lunch, to a lovely Chinese restaurant as a bit of a celebration. So all in all it was a good day!

On Tuesday, we got back to work, we tried to finish up on our analysis and decided to aim for finishing all our interviews this week. On Wednesday night, the girls headed out to a yoga class in Salt Lake, the boys thought it wasn’t really their scene so decided to join a little later when we all went for dinner together. Finding a restaurant with lots of Indian character, kind waiters and traditional meditating music we tried out their famous biriyani dish which did not disappoint. Unfortunately, our lovely night ended with a bad uber experience but we made it back to the guest house safe and sound!


We thought bowling on Thursday night would be a fun activity so after finishing up a good spicy guesthouse meal we headed out, but it turns out google opening hours should not be trusted. It was closed. It didn’t stop us exploring the mall, buying some Darjeeling tea and having a cold beer!

Friday came, and we headed back to Techno India University to conduct our final interviews. They went well and it was sad saying goodbye to the University where we were treated so well. We tried out some local food for lunch and were so impressed by the bread oven, it turned out to be really good food and costing us 35p each was an extra bonus! We are excited to enjoy another weekend exploring Kolkata seeing as much as we can!

Week 6

Patrick and Raymon tell us about their final week working at the Tata Medical Centre Kolkata

It does not feel like it but our six weeks at the Tata Medical Center are now almost finished. We’ve spent the majority of the last week, finalising our projects and making any preparations needed for the upcoming travels we are all our partaking in. Both pairs of students needed to finalise our work into reports by Friday which we have managed to do.

Last weekend in our penultimate weekend in the guesthouse we made the most of spending time in Kolkata by visiting one of the temples, Birla Mandir, which we hadn’t seen yet. Although the temple was based right in the middle of the City its architecture was still remarkable, and we even seen the temple lit up at night which was nice. After we had seen the temple we searched for the ‘only western style pizza in town’ and it did not disappoint.

On Sunday we decided to try out the newly built Kolkata Ecopark which was a diverse area with a large lake and an island with plenty of activities. The activities ranged from archery, to Segway riding. There was something for everyone. Raymon, the self-proclaimed most famous man in the Netherlands, had a natural eye for archery-remember his name for Tokyo 2020. We had a delicious lunch on the island before returning to the guesthouse before starting the final work week of the internship.

We (Raymon and Patrick) this week have also looked into the grant mapping process for the Tata Medical Center. The work consisted of browsing websites for companies and foundations who are likely to fund our project. We made a clear and comprehensible Excel document in which we provided information regarding which projects these companies fund, the process you must go through to obtain possible funding and an indication of the amount of the fund. Although less analytical work than the previous weeks’ econometrics research, we still faced a few challenges and have now become friendly with the Medical Center’s coffee staff.

As stated earlier, the rest of the week was spent finalising our projects and looking further into the grant mapping process. We also had our final meal at the Tata Medical Centre, where we decided to treat ourselves on the last day by eating out at a local restaurant which was delicious. Eating in the canteen is one of the few things we will not miss at the end of the internship.

We want to thank the GEO team for arranging the internship and giving us the wonderful opportunity to work in Tata Medical Centre Kolkata for 6 weeks. It was also lovely to meet our number 1 supervisor Soumita Ghose, a photograph is shown below of us. Also along with the other pair of interns, Brega and Suman, we would like to thank Dr.Datta for everything he does for us.


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