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Germany means great research options

An Indian PhD candidate takes us through his journey to this European hotspot for science students report Rahat Bano

education Updated: Jul 28, 2010 10:06 IST
Rahat Bano

Delhiite Rohit Jain is a BSc in biomedical sciences from the University of Delhi and a Master in life sciences from Jawaharlal Nehru University in the Capital. He talks about his journey to Germany where he is pursuing a PhD.

Ifirst came to Germany for internship on a DAAD scholarship. I was selected later for my current PhD in biophysics and infection biology at BioStruct, Heinrich Heine University, Germany. My studies are funded by scholarship. I was also a scholars’ representative. (My tenure was for one year).

While contemplating studying abroad, I never went to any agent as all information was readily available through the Internet and my study circle. I received help from the university in clearing admission formalities and an Indian student received me here.

I settled for Germany due to its high level and quality of research. Doing research in this country provides exposure to highly-advanced and state-of-the-art facilities. Cutting-edge research gives an opportunity to answer basic and prominent science questions. The industry works in close collaboration with universities and provides sufficient money for research. There is independence and freedom in research. There is no gender difference and employees at every level are respected. Working in Germany means following rules and meeting deadlines. The mentor, seniors and I in the lab share an open relationship which makes my working environment exciting, with lots of fun.

However, most of the official work, books and communication are done in Deutsch. Knowledge of Deutsch is compulsory for many courses and working outside academics. This becomes a hurdle in many cases. Family and friends back home help a lot emotionally. In the beginning, I faced roadblocks but overcoming them has made me a better individual. People in higher education generally know English and books in English are easily available in the library and select bookstores. Besides, Google translator is always handy.

My working hours depend on experiments and I take time out to study at home. After initial difficult months, I know quite a lot about my city and have made friends here. We visit each other occasionally and go together to explore tourist spots in Europe.

I saw a huge difference between Indian and western cultures here. Germany is open and friendly. Most people love meat and alcohol. But people don’t misbehave after drinking, so a get-together is always enjoyable. Coming from a vegetarian family, initially, it was difficult for me to survive at the dining table. But vegetarian food can be easily fetched from departmental stores and Indian grocery shops. There is a never-ending variety of milk and processed food available for us. Vegetarian dishes are sold in the canteen and restaurants. But it’s always hard to live without home food and chai.

I keep weekends to shop for daily stuff and for rest. Monthly expenses depend on the city and one’s lifestyle. My monthly expenses add up to 800 euros, including monthly bills, insurance and home maintenance costs. In Germany, university fees are far low as compared to the United States and the United Kingdom. Students can easily earn for their monthly expenditure by working on a student work visa. This makes quality education virtually free for students.

Germany offers good employment opportunities for research in both academics and industry. I would like to obtain good work experience before returning to be with family, friends and my beloved India. (After finishing my PhD, I plan to do research in highly-advanced scientific institutes). There are signs of shrinking job opportunities in engineering and the service sector. However, I am sure Germany’s economy is strong and these bad days will be over soon.

As told to Rahat Bano