Australian Gemini Undergraduate Summer studentships - FAQ
Will I get to choose my project and supervisor?
The allocation of students to projects and supervisors is made by the Gemini South Observatory on the basis of projects on offer. You can specify an area of interest, but no guarantee can be made that the project will be in your preferred area. Part of the aim of the AGUSS program is to give you the opportunity to work on something different from what you have done before, which may turn out to be more interesting than you thought!
Will I need to be able to speak Spanish?
No, the working language around the Gemini Observatory headquarters is English. However you will find the AGUSS experience much more enjoyable and rewarding if you at least try and communicate with the locals in Spanish. There's no substitute for immersion in a Spanish-speaking society to make you proficient in Spanish.
Can I travel around Chile and South America while I'm over there?
As a public servant you are not entitled to take extra time before or after your studentship for a holiday in South America. You are free to travel on weekends and public holidays, subject to requirements of your project and supervisor. However if you travel outside of the La Serena/Coquimbo or Elqui Valley regions, you will not be covered by the AAO's corporate travel insurance policy, and thus will need to take out your own insurance for that purpose.
Is it safe in La Serena?
La Serena is much smaller than Santiago, and in general is quite safe to travel around. Bear in mind though that Dec-Feb is the height of the tourist season, and pickpocketing and bag-snatching can occur. The Observatory compound has a 24 hour guard and is fairly secure. Your main risk is more likely to be from earthquakes or a tsunami.
What if I miss out on AGUSS this year?
AGUSS is an extremely competitive scheme - we typically receive 10 times more applications than there are studentships. For those who miss out, there are a number of similar programs operated by institutions throughout Australasia you may wish to consider.
If you have any other queries about the studentship scheme before applying, then please feel free to contact the program supervisor Stuart Ryder by e-mail, or by phone at (02) 9372-4843.