Moving countries is always a bit of a hassle, even if you are only coming for a summer internship. Things can, and often will, go slightly wrong, but I don’t think it should stop anyone from signing up to new challenges! Here’s a couple of impressive blunders you can maybe avoid though:
1: Arriving at the airport, grab a train with very small time margins for transfers, rush to the wrong platform, and end up at a station called Kuhbrücke (literally “Cowbridge”). Bonus points are given for running with heavy luggage in 30⁰C, and accidentally smudging your face with dirt at some point, so that you can make a great first impression when meeting your colleague an hour late at the station.
2: Grabbing an ice cream when you go grocery shopping is actually a good idea. However, avoid eating it on a bench where an ant army invades your grocery bag, providing a nice surprise (for you and your new flatmates!) when OKunpacking in the kitchen.
3: Big research institutes, like the Jülich Forschungszentrum (=research center), can easily get you confused and/or lost in the first few days. Don’t be suprised if the staircase you took just an hour before suddenly teleports you to the opposite side of the building. These are high-tech research facilities after all, who knows what kind of quantum tunneling experiments they’re conducting?
Slight challenges aside, my first week in Germany has gone really well! My supervisor, Dr. Stefan Krieg, encouraged me to do as much back-ground reading in graphene as I like, before we start tackling the computational problem. So, days at work have consisted of reading a textbook and papers on modeling quantum fields in a lattice. When I don’t understand something, I can just knock on someone’s door and chat about it; there’s lots of friendly help available. Hopefully in my next post I’ll have some news on my actual project!
I’ve also been getting to know other students working on their MSc’s, summer projects, and PhD’s at the Jülich Supercomputing Center, as well as my flatmates at the “Guesthouse”, an 11-story building housing students and visitors to the Forschungszentrum. It’s actually very nice, even though my expectations weren’t that high after we were warned that the accommodation is “designed for a student budget”. I have a very large room on the 8th floor, with a window facing the fortress in the middle of the town. I share the kitchen with my three flatmates, but each of us has our own mini-fridge, just like you’d find in a hotel! And downstairs there’s a TV, where we’ve been gathering to watch the football World Cup, and a bookshelf I’ve already started to explore.
On my first day, I was lent a bike by the research institute, and I’ve really loved riding to work each day through the field and woods bordering the Forschungszentrum. I’m looking forward to exploring my surroundings by bike this weekend, and will try to remember to take a few pictures for the blog as well!