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Summer 2019

Germany: DAAD

July 24, 2019
- Kashish Garg

Start of the third year is a confusing time - everyone is talking about the internship they want to land. With the amount of money offered in each of them and other pros and pros, it starts to get a little tense as time proceeds. One thing that is usually discussed id if one should pursue a research internship at all. In this article, I will explain why I did a research internship and what benefits it had on me.

Making it there

In the beginning, I was not sure whether I wanted to pursue a research internship at all. Having done one research internship already in my second year summers, I wanted to explore the possibility of working in a core related company. I was sure that I wouldn’t do a coding related intern since my knowledge there was pretty much zero.

During the intern season, I applied for ITC and Bajaj, only to be rejected by both. During this, I decided to go for a research intern, DAAD WISE to be specific. The only reason at the beginning was the possibility to explore Europe for two and a half months on someone else’s money. For DAAD, I mailed around 20 professors, getting a negative response from around 5, and positive from 2. I got the offer letter from both of them and eventually, ended up applying for an Intern at Rostock University.

Although there are a lot of funded foreign internship programs, I applied only for DAAD, Mitacs, and NTU-India Connect. I didn’t get selected for Mitacs but did manage to get both DAAD WISE scholarship and NTU-India Connect. The central dilemma I faced was choosing between these two. On one side, it was one of the top-ranked institutes in the world, and on the other, it was the name of DAAD and the amount of money. I chose the latter because I didn’t want to spend money out of my pocket while doing an internship. Also, the project offered at Rostock sounded more interesting to me.

If you are looking for DAAD WISE, the main hurdle you have to cross is getting an offer letter from a German university. For that, you should start at the earliest as it gets a bit tense when you are not receiving any replies. Starting in August-end should be good enough. Also, take care in writing the cover letter and try not to make it sound generic. Attach your resume to the mail and a project report of any project or internship that you might have done. For resume, it is an excellent option to build it online on ShareLaTex. Also, do mention that you are looking for funding from DAAD and would not require any funding from their side.

After you are selected, the only thing you have to worry about is booking the air tickets, finding accommodation and getting the VISA. The VISA part is straightforward once you have the scholarship.

Life in Rostock

Rostock is located in the eastern part of Germany, which is usually considered to be a lot cheaper than the western side. But, if you are looking to stay only for three odd months, it gets hard to find affordable accommodation. The best option that is available is the studentenwerk hostels. They are pretty cheap and would be located close to the university. However, in my case, studentenwerk Rostock didn’t allow a stay of fewer than six months, and hence, I had to look for other options. There is a website called wg-gesucht, which is an excellent portal for finding shared accommodation in Europe. Although there are a lot of scammers on the site, you can be safe by not agreeing to pay anything in advance. I used that, and after a lot of requests, I finally found an affordable accommodation, the only problem was it was 3 km from the workplace. I had an option to use the tram for getting there, but I decided to walk both to save money and explore the city. Also, my accommodation was located close to the harbor, so it was nice to go out for a walk in the evening or on weekends.

Eating outside is expensive, and I had to cook for myself, starting with simple things like an omelette to more complex ones. I did lunch at the university canteen which offers a lot of variety and an excellent student discount. The work culture in Germany is of five days a week, Friday and Saturday evenings are usually spent partying at a club or drinking beer. The surroundings are spotless, and people follow the traffic rules religiously, and there is no honking on roads, which makes walking all the more enjoyable. My flatmate was a German, and so, I got to know a lot of things about German culture from him. One of these was how to open a beer bottle with a water bottle or a spoon. Just a bit of advice, It’s a good option to carry some food items like daal and spices by yourself from India. It can be costly in Germany and sometimes hard to find even. I also took some packets of Maggi as it helps when you don’t want to cook. For other stuff, it’s good to see some Indians already living there, by joining a Facebook group called Indians in Germany. They can advise you more on what to bring by yourself and what can you get there only.

Traveling in Europe


It is difficult to explain in words how much I enjoyed living and traveling around Europe. The Schengen Visa allows you to visit 26 countries, which is more than one can explore. In all, I visited three other countries apart from Germany (Rostock, Berlin, and Hamburg) which were Netherlands (Amsterdam), Hungary (Budapest) and Italy (Venice, Florence, and Rome). Traveling was expensive, but it was an excellent option to buy a bus pass called interflix. Using that, you can go to any city on the bus five times just for 100 euros. And the buses here are equipped with on-board toilets and free Wi-Fi, so long journeys are not that troublesome. For staying, hostel culture is prevalent in Europe where you can find affordable accommodation in a mixed dorm room. Here, you can meet a lot of new people from different parts of the world. I shared rooms with people from Italy, New Zealand, America, England, and Russia during my travels. Also, the people here are quite friendly and courteous, and you will always find people who can speak English, so communication is not a big problem. Although, I’d advice to download German dictionary offline and the language of any country you plan to visit.

Watching the fireworks show while enjoying a cruise ride in Budapest was one of the best experiences for me, so was roaming around in the streets of Florence. Also, trying different cuisines in Europe is a pleasant experience. In particular, the Italian Pizza and gelato. Public transportation in Europe is excellent and so, traveling around in different parts of the city is easy. Overall, this is the most beautiful part of a foreign research internship.



Having done research internship both in India and Germany, I’d say that the experience has been a lot different than I’d imagine. People here pursue research because they want to and take it professionally. They work quite seriously on weekdays during the working hours and enjoy as much on weekends. For me, I was usually in the office from 10 to 3 or 4, due to the light workload. My main project was related to Energy planning, which involved reading about the renewable energy scenario in Germany, Mecklenburg vorpommern in particular and learning new software for the same. Based on an existing model of the Hanseatic city of Rostock, I extended the model to include the whole of Mecklenburg- Vorpommern. For a part of the project, I also had to learn a bit of python, which was both fun and also an enriching experience. I learned to use Pandas in python to refine data. The refined data was then used to plot graphs to compare simulation and experimental data. It taught me the value of coding in research. I used to have lunch with my guide and other Ph.D. guys, which was an excellent place to talk and make new friends. Overall, more than just technical knowledge, it was an enriching experience for me comprising of both new learnings and fun.

Summing it up

As this was the first time I was traveling to a foreign country, the experience was bound to be remarkable. I followed traffic rules religiously like I never did before, had to learn to eat with a knife and fork.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and you can never travel like this except when you are a student. Apart from the knowledge you gain, the life you live for these two-three months will live with you forever as memories. Also, for getting a foreign research internship, having a good cover letter is a must. Try to send personalized emails to each professor and work on your SOP (Statement of purpose). Also, your C.G.P.A. does matter, so try to keep it up. Also, people here seem to have a lot of expectations from a DAAD scholar, so try to do some work while also taking out time to travel.