Germany- the Land of Ideas holds a strong research repute all across the globe. With numerous labs doing cutting-edge research, finding a position in one such places can definitely be a stepping stone in one’s academic career. I was more than thrilled when I got one such opportunity to work as a research intern under Professor Bähre at Lehrstuhl Für Fertigungstechnik (Institute of Production Engineering), Universität des Saarlandes (Saarland University), Germany during the summers of 2015.
My internship lasted for about 10 weeks in the beautiful city of Saarbrücken, located on the fringes of the Franco-German border. My work was primarily based on understanding the effects of residual stresses in some of the state-of-the-art manufacturing processes through Finite Element Modelling (FEM). I was supervised by my Professor and was directly working with the P.hD. who both guided and monitored my daily progress. I worked independently most of the time and involved myself in a lot of reading. Quite often I discussed my findings with my colleagues over lunch. It was during this that I learnt the nuances of German food and culture. There were interns also from other Asian countries and it was fascinating to learn about their cultures and lifestyles. My day in the lab usually started early and ended late in the evening as it was always fun and enriching to work in such a conducive atmosphere the lab had to offer. The lab was well equipped and had some excellent infrastructure.
Germany has an amazing work culture. People are generally hard working and disciplined. If work is serious business, Germans make sure they even party hard during weekends. It was quite common to spot a barbecue in the evenings. Most of my free days were spent in exploring Europe. Saarbrücken being close to the Franco-German border, travelling to French cities during the weekends was fairly easy. The German rail network (Deutsch Bahn) is simply awesome. It’s fast, punctual and connects most European cities and towns. With a EuRail pass, one can easily visit several places and experience different cultures and flavours Europe has to offer.
The department officials there took care of all my paperwork and made sure my stay in Germany was comfortable. I was given an apartment close to the University which I shared with one other student. Unlike otherwise believed the food was not an issue for me. There was a common university mess which served all types of cuisines which also included a vegetarian meal. Indian lunch was also prepared once a week. Personally I loved the typical German breakfast which consisted of fruits, vegetables, different types of meat, seeded bread, and coffee. During snack time, I munched on some delicious muesli or on some occasions tried to cook myself. Cooking was something I had never done before but having a roommate who loved preparing dishes I decided to give it a try. Indian spices were readily available in the supermarkets and it was fun cooking some spicy food for my roommate and myself.
Overall it was a pleasurable experience in Germany. There was a lot to learn both academically as well as on a personal level. It was indeed one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had.
Here are few pictures from my trip