Our researchers in the time of the pandemic

OKTOBER 2020

Hans Krab Koed

How did the lockdown affect my (professional) life?,

„I just gave my lectures virtual by Zoom. I did already do a lot of digital teaching in Denmark, but of course it was disappointing not being able to be on spot in Potsdam, not being able to socialize and exchange thoughts and ideas with colleagues. Sad not to mee the students in real life. It was my luck, that I already had been as an Erasmus dozent twice and therefore had so good contact to some of the professors. They did help me a lot with practical matters. Especially dr. Dirk Schuster was a great help.“

Hans Krab Koed

Age: 70 years | Nationality: Danish | Field of study / work: Department of Jewish Studies and Religious Studies

 

Where were you during the first months of the pandemic?

In Denmark. Borders were closed and it was not legal for my husband to go to Berlin, as he afterwards would be quarantined at his work in Denmark. And there would be no insurance. Well all my lectures had to be virtual ZOOM online, which meant it does not matter where you were.

Was there also a positive outcome for you during these months?

Yes I got much more experience in using Zoom and I did learn how to get more close and deeper into the texts we did study, as I did share the text on Zoom right while I was giving those lectures.

Is there anything you are appreciating more now?

Yes, being close to students and colleagues in real life. It is like no propose in studying how to live together and understand identities if you are just absent and keep distance.

Do you have any idea or suggestion for our community/what we could do in this time?

Well next time we have to find out how to help the weakest students. We loose then more or less right way.

Maybe it could be possible to differentiate so those seminars with few students could be in real life at university and we still could keep up all Corona conditions.

Hans Krab Koed

How did the lockdown affect my (professional) life?,

„I just gave my lectures virtual by Zoom. I did already do a lot of digital teaching in Denmark, but of course it was disappointing not being able to be on spot in Potsdam, not being able to socialize and exchange thoughts and ideas with colleagues. Sad not to mee the students in real life. It was my luck, that I already had been as an Erasmus dozent twice and therefore had so good contact to some of the professors. They did help me a lot with practical matters. Especially dr. Dirk Schuster was a great help.“


My favorite place in Potsdam/ Berlin/ surroundings:

Kuhhorn an der Havel. Like so much the rivers and lakes around Potsdam and Berlin

The most surprising thing about Germany?

The very polite manner between students and teacher. As a Dane I do like it a lot. Its relaxing and a professional attitude and relationship. Well of course you also can miss the informal relation as we have it in Denmark.

My future plans:

To follow up in Denmark on theories of identity based on with nationality and religion. To give lectures about Dr. Dirk Schuster’s studies on the connection between Christianity and antisemitism, and to do more research local in Denmark about religious communities like in Professor Hans Hafner’s work. “Glauben in Potsdam.”

My advice for fellow scholars:

Try to visit the university before you apply for your scholarship. Get some contacts before your stay. Its much easier in the short time of 6 month to get a good result out of your stay.


SEPTEMBER 2020

Fadi Alhomoch

My favorite place in Potsdam/ Berlin / surroundings,

„The historical identity of the place means a lot to me. It is not possible to limit the huge number of places that can be visited especially for nature lovers and meditation. For me, I love standing on The Glienicke Bridge across the Havel lake, which was the checkpoint between two countries that later united. Also, visiting the Cecilienhof Palace in the New Garden in which the Potsdam agreement in 1945 was signed was very emotional.“

Fadi Alhomoch

Age: 45 years | Nationality: Syrian | Field of study / work: Food science-Milk quality (PhD candidate)

 

The most surprising thing about Germany?

The variety in bakery sparks a lot of my curiosity. Excellent traffic system. The equal opportunities system for children in education. Germans keep distance and don’t make a friend quickly, but when you have a friendship with German, it is precious.

My advice for future scholars:

Being very surrounding and prepared with the aspect of your research, through soft-relevant skills of your field. Very crucial thing which will make a big difference in your life is learning the German language.

My future plans:

I would like to continue in the field of research to be a dairy technologist. Also becoming involved in organizations that support small scale sector farmers and livestock keepers in Syria.

 

Fadi Alhomoch

My favorite place in Potsdam/ Berlin / surroundings,

„The historical identity of the place means a lot to me. It is not possible to limit the huge number of places that can be visited especially for nature lovers and meditation. For me, I love standing on The Glienicke Bridge across the Havel lake, which was the checkpoint between two countries that later united. Also, visiting the Cecilienhof Palace in the New Garden in which the Potsdam agreement in 1945 was signed was very emotional.“

AUGUST 2020

Karen Jacob

My advice for fellow scholars,

„In the beginning things might seem complicated, but with a little patience you discover a rich and interesting culture. The university has a lot of helpful facilities, and I would advise you to take the opportunity to learn the German language.“

Karen Jacob

Age: 43 years | Nationality: Israeli | Field of study / work: Philosophy (PhD candidate)

 

My favorite place in Potsdam/ Berlin / surroundings:

In Potsdam: The Havel area, and all the ancient historical monuments.

The most surprising thing about Germany?

Germany is rich with natural flora, and water resources which gives a feeling of peace, quiet and serenity.

My future plans:

I plan to travel and tour Germany and the neighboring countries.

 

Karen Jacob

My advice for fellow scholars,

„In the beginning things might seem complicated, but with a little patience you discover a rich and interesting culture. The university has a lot of helpful facilities, and I would advise you to take the opportunity to learn the German language.“

JULY 2020

Timothy O. Tella

The most surprising thing about Germany,

„The tuition-free universities and the freedom of scientific researchers really amaze me. Although I am awed by the warmness of most Germans, I am surprised that it really takes time to make friends with one.“

Timothy O. Tella

Age: 31 | Nationality: Nigerian | Field of study / work: Sedimentology / Stratigraphic Forward Modelling (PhD Candidate)

 

My favorite place in Potsdam/ Berlin / surroundings:

I love the serenity and aesthetics of the Park Sansouci and I love to walk along the Freundschaftsinsel near the Hauptbahnof.

My advice for fellow scholars:

The availability of most of the facilities required for research also puts a time-constraint on how much can be done. I think the most important factor in the discharge of your research is time. Spend your time smartly on your research but also plan to enjoy Germany. Make friends, make memories, and make impact.

My future plans:

I plan to work in the georesources industry bringing in my training as a geoscientist and as a researcher. While doing that, I hope to find a way to impact my locality practically through the establishment of a quality community school for orphans and destitutes. Maybe (just maybe) I may get into politics one day too, but it is not on top of the list.

 

Timothy O. Tella

The most surprising thing about Germany,

„The tuition-free universities and the freedom of scientific researchers really amaze me. Although I am awed by the warmness of most Germans, I am surprised that it really takes time to make friends with one.“

JUNE 2020

Tugce Aral

My future plans,

„I hope to continue to do research and improve our understanding of intergroup relations between privileged and underprivilege groups. I would also like to create opportunities to empower women/children of color in Germany.“

Tuğçe Aral

Age: 26 years | Nationality: Turkish | Field of study / work: Inclusive Education – Diversity in Education and Development

 

My favorite place in Potsdam/ Berlin / surroundings:

In Potsdam: Park Sanssouci
In Berlin: Tempelhof Feld and multicultural neighborhoods (Kreuzberg, Neukölln, Rixdorf), Maybachufer Fleamarket.

My advice for fellow scholars:

The time flies by, and there is so much to get done in a limited time. Choose your advisors wisely; a healthy relationship with your advisors is one of the essential parts of a Ph.D. Try setting short-term and long-term goals and keep checking them whether you are on the right track. Also, take care of your physical and mental health; they matter the most!

I would also suggest fellow scholars learn German, especially the ones who are doing their Ph.D. in social science departments. Because learning German will help you to better understand the social structures in German society and be a more active member of your scientific community.

 

Tugce Aral

My future plans,

„I hope to continue to do research and improve our understanding of intergroup relations between privileged and underprivilege groups. I would also like to create opportunities to empower women/children of color in Germany.“

MAY 2020

Hind Emad

The most surprising thing about Germany,

„As a resident of Potsdam, I am amazed by the historical and cultural monuments, each one tells a story about Germany.“

Hind Emad

Age: 34 | Nationality: Sudanese | Field of study / work: Molecular Biotechnology (Visiting scientist)

 

My favorite place in Potsdam/ Berlin / surroundings:

I am impressed with potsdam gardens and palaces. The historic architecture and abundance of greenery are very pleasant.

My advice for fellow scholars:

Germany is a great place for research. Become part of a large international research community and benefit from the excellent infrastructure, a wide variety of disciplines and well-equipped research facilities. Be patient to achieve your goals and keep going.

My future plans:

I will keep on working as an assistant professor, delivering lectures and conducting research to understand how plants respond to environmental stresses and finding a way to develop stress tolerant crops. I believe, there is always more to learn, discover and opportunities to be of service to one’s community, country and the world.

 

Hind Emad

The most surprising thing about Germany,

„As a resident of Potsdam, I am amazed by the historical and cultural monuments, each one tells a story about Germany.“

APRIL 2020

Noon Bushra Eltahir

My future plans,

„I will keep working on research and teaching in the university. Therefore, I will improve myself in modern and top scientific methods at the molecular biology and animal behavior. In addition it will promote the very interesting evolutionary and conservation research. Moreover, I am looking to publish my research and transfer this knowledge to my students and colleagues who are engaged in the same field of study in my country. I will keep conducting scientific research as I am convinced that; a scientist’s journey has no end.“

Noon Bushra Eltahir

Age: 33 | Nationality: Sudanese | Field of study / work: Animal Behavior and Molecular Biology (PhD candidate)

 

My favorite place in Potsdam/ Berlin / surroundings:

Germany has many beautiful places to visit. I was amazed by the beautiful landscapes and the architectures of the historical places especially in Potsdam.

In Berlin: The Museum of Natural History, Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall and Zoo are the most attractive places I have ever visited.

The most surprising thing about Germany?

The uniqueness of the community and culture here. People are kind and always ready to help. In Germany, you can find people from different nationalities. This diversity gives people the chance to get exposed to different cultures and traditions. Especially during the pandemic of coronavirus, I realise that the society deals with it in a serious manner. People are well organized, united and committed to rules.

My advice for fellow scholars:

Laboratories, instruments and up to date references are within your hands. Hence you are here for a limited period of time; you can get the most out of all these facilities available for you. Moreover, you have to be patient with all the circumstances you might face and try to learn German language.

 

Noon Bushra Eltahir

My future plans,

„I will keep working on research and teaching in the university. Therefore, I will improve myself in modern and top scientific methods at the molecular biology and animal behavior. In addition it will promote the very interesting evolutionary and conservation research. Moreover, I am looking to publish my research and transfer this knowledge to my students and colleagues who are engaged in the same field of study in my country. I will keep conducting scientific research as I am convinced that; a scientist’s journey has no end.“

MARCH 2020

Francesco Belli

My advice for fellow scholars,

„Be patient with bureaucracy and red tape stuffs, everything will be fine.“

Francesco Belli

Age: 33 years | Nationality: Italian | Field of study / work: Cognitive Neurosciences

 

My favorite place in Potsdam/ Berlin / surroundings:

 Babelsberg and Dutch Quarter in Potsdam, Spreepark and Kreuzberg in Berlin.

The most surprising thing about Germany?

The surrounding sense of movement, construction and constant changing, that you can literally breath in.

My future plans:

I would like to keep on working in research and university, hopefully take up a fruitful academic career.

 

Francesco Belli

My advice for fellow scholars,

„Be patient with bureaucracy and red tape stuffs, everything will be fine.“

JANUAR 2020

My advice for fellow scholars,

„I know that we are all busy with our research projects, however, I would like to suggest that you invest some time on learning the German language. Learning German will get you to know more about the German culture which is worth exploring, you will get to understand the German humour which does exist and you will get yourself engaged in very interesting conversations.“

Nada Abdel-Hak

Age: 30 years | Nationality: Egypt | Field of study / work: Geosciences (PhD candidate)

 

My favorite place in Potsdam/ Berlin / surroundings:

I like the natural landscapes in Potsdam. Walking by the water bodies and seeing the architecture of the trimmed trees is my favorite activity.

The most surprising thing about Germany?

Germany is highly international and diverse; I have met people from almost all the countries of the world, from different cultures and backgrounds. This diversity gives people the chance to experience different cultures, to see one's own culture through the eyes of other cultures which is always surprising and amazing, moreover, to question many of the stereotypes one have in mind through meeting actual people.

My future plans:

I have been working in teaching and research at the university for the last 9 years. And my future plan is to continue my journey in science.

My advice for fellow scholars,

„I know that we are all busy with our research projects, however, I would like to suggest that you invest some time on learning the German language. Learning German will get you to know more about the German culture which is worth exploring, you will get to understand the German humour which does exist and you will get yourself engaged in very interesting conversations.“

DECEMBER 2019

The most surprising thing about Germany,

„I come from a place where people love wearing bright colours so the lack of this in German everyday fashion was surprising to me. The people here seem to prefer dark clothing.“

Alexandra-Selene Jarvis

Age: 36 | Nationality: Trinidadian (from Trinidad & Tobago) | Field of study / work: Fluid Systems Modelling (PhD candidate) 

 

My favorite place in Potsdam/ Berlin / surroundings:

Neuer Garten, Potsdam; KaDeWe and Kurfürstendamm in Berlin

My advice for fellow scholars:

Maybe you are here for a limited time, so take the opportunity to learn as much as you can both inside and outside the academic environment. While Germany offers some of the world’s best educational and professional opportunities, it also affords you a myriad of cultural experiences that is native to Europe. Berlin grants easy access to all other European nations so take advantage to travel especially when you need some away from your project to relax.

My future plans:

Work in the renewable energy storage and recovery field and share my knowledge as often as possible. Travel the world, take photos to immortalize unforgettable moments and share them. I have spent the last 14 years working, studying and travelling abroad. I have been fortunate to have won a series of scholarships and fellowships, enabling my academic achievements. I would like to implement a scholarship program in my native country to assist young people from underprivileged backgrounds, especially young women, to achieve their academic goals.

 

The most surprising thing about Germany,

„I come from a place where people love wearing bright colours so the lack of this in German everyday fashion was surprising to me. The people here seem to prefer dark clothing.“

NOVEMBER 2019

My future plans,

„I hope to publish my research in a book and to return to my country to impart the knowledge to my students, university community and affect my environment positively. I also hope to establish a private university in Nigeria in the near future. Tall dream but supremely realizable.“

Prof. Dr. James Tar Tsaaior

Age: 49 | Nationality: Nigeria | Field of study / work: Cultural Studies/Postcolonial Studies; Stand-Up comedy and Nigeria's postcolonial imaginary

 

My favorite place in Potsdam/ Berlin / surroundings:

Not just one place, actually but a couple of places, for their serenity and peaceful ambience. The Potsdam Garden close to the Hauptbahnhof; the Wannsee River; Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Potsdam.

The most surprising thing about Germany?

That is the widespread bicycling culture despite the efficient public transport system. In my country, bicycles are metaphors of poverty.

My advice for fellow scholars:

The research experience affords an infinite bouquet of opportunities and possibilities for academic work and intellectual networks, cultural understanding and friendships. So while we conduct our research which is our primary concern, scholars should also invest their time and energies in the pursuit of these other legitimate concerns which can enhance our common humanity, promote cultural understanding and build a better world for our generation and posterity.

 

My future plans,

„I hope to publish my research in a book and to return to my country to impart the knowledge to my students, university community and affect my environment positively. I also hope to establish a private university in Nigeria in the near future. Tall dream but supremely realizable.“

OCTOBER 2019

My advice for fellow scholars,

„Keep an open mind. Forget about what you have heard about PhDs, supervisors or the community in which you are doing your research, and give yourself a chance to define and enjoy your own personal experiences.“

Obed Kambasu

Age: 35 years | Nationality: Uganda | Field of study / work: Political Science

 

My favorite place in Potsdam/ Berlin / surroundings:

I love the water bodies around Berlin and Potsdam. I have taken boat trips around the Spree, the Havel, Müggelsee, and the River Cruise "Tour of 7 Lakes" from Wannsee to Potsdam. Apart from taking boat tours and canoeing, I also love fishing on these water bodies.

The most surprising thing about Germany?

The friendliness of the people. One of the less talked about traits of German people is that they are humble, kind and always looking to help others. I was for example surprised to see that nearly everyone is happy to offer their seat on public transport to elderly people and children.

My future plans:

To work as an international development consultant, using my research to advise governments and international development partners.

 

My advice for fellow scholars,

„Keep an open mind. Forget about what you have heard about PhDs, supervisors or the community in which you are doing your research, and give yourself a chance to define and enjoy your own personal experiences.“

SEPTEMBER 2019

The most surprising thing about Germany,

„Amalgamation of Lernfreiheit (Freedom to learn) and Lehrfreiheit (Freedom to teach) One of the central attributes of the German education system is freedom, provided both to the students and the teachers which enables a great degree of autonomy at both end of the spectrum. Students have the freedom to ask questions, freedom to develop, and to solving problems. This core attribute, in my opinion, is what differentiates the German education system from others thereby making Germany a ‘knowledge-based economy’. “

Ankit Agarwal

Age: 28 | Nationality: Indian | Field of Research: PhD in Hydro-Climatology

 

My favorite place in Potsdam/Berlin/surroundings:

Wannsee lake and nearby forest

My advice for fellow scholars:

Focus on key-skills courses offered by either your respective institute or POGS. They are incredibly important and helpful. Most of the German universities have many key skill courses such as communication, collaboration, networking, slide preparing, scientific writing etc. The integration of these courses in academic (mostly research) curriculum will indeed boost your self-confidence.

My future plans:

Recently, I have secured an assistant professor position at IIT-Roorkee in Hydrology Department. My joining is due on the 1st of October, 2019. With the growing recognition and need to global actions to tackle the climate crisis, my research team and I will broadly focus on deciphering the complexity in Indian Monsoon, its prediction and technical felicitation mechanism through teleconnections. In achieving the solutions to these research problems, I deeply acknowledge the importance of partnership and international cooperation, partnerships and other collaborative forums. My long-term goal after going back to India is to keep the bi-lateral relationship alive and explore opportunities to send new talent to Germany for study and research.

The most surprising thing about Germany,

„Amalgamation of Lernfreiheit (Freedom to learn) and Lehrfreiheit (Freedom to teach) One of the central attributes of the German education system is freedom, provided both to the students and the teachers which enables a great degree of autonomy at both end of the spectrum. Students have the freedom to ask questions, freedom to develop, and to solving problems. This core attribute, in my opinion, is what differentiates the German education system from others thereby making Germany a ‘knowledge-based economy’. “