Stay in Braunschweig, Report by Rishi Kumar

The word Germany first came to my mind when I took Mechanical engineering as my branch in my undergraduate. The name Germany was always related to perfection in my unconscious mind due to German Car companies like Mercedes and Audi. I always dreamt of going to Germany. Finally, this dream became real when I joined PhD at BITS Pilani, Pilani Campus under Prof. K.S. Sangwan in Aug 2018. My sitting place was Joint Info German Lab (JINGEL Lab), where I met my first foreign friend Luise and Yannick, who were some days senior to me at Pilani campus. Later Max, Benjamin and Kurosh also joined after a month and the journey to know about Germany started. When I came to know that I would go to Germany as a Visiting Researcher for six months. I was very, very happy and in my dreams, many images and pictures of Germany came. This dream came true on 22nd May 2019 when I reached Germany, which was also my first foreign trip. As per my knowledge and data so far, I may be the first person travelling to Germany from my home district (Khagaria, Bihar) and maybe the first to pursue PhD in engineering having a population of three million.

I was very nervous at Hannover airport. But thanks to the surprise welcome by Luise, Max and Yannick and I was feeling very comfortable as I had spent most of the time at BITS with them. The first surprising thing noticed was all persons in the car must wear a seat belt. The highway was so fast with no speed limit. The roads and traffic were looking like I am playing video games or watching a Hollywood movie. I reached Braunschweig in less than an hour.  I was shocked to feel cold at the end of May. Luise took me to the city centre to buy some basic stuff. I felt like I am in a different world. Everything was looking new to me.

The houses, roads looked quite similar and very confusing for me during the initial days and used Google maps for everything. I was amazed to see people of all ages (even five-year-old) using cycles and a separate Lane for cycling. I was also surprised to see Prof Herrmann using bicycles, and it inspired and motivated me towards sustainability. Also, cycles had mandatory lights for road safety. I was also surprised to see the cleanliness and greenness of Braunschweig. They were so many types of dustbins. I was also surprised to see that on returning plastic bottles we get the money back. They were very high levels of awareness for sustainability among all people. Almost all persons that I met were global thinkers and very broad-minded and had a lot of debates on these topics. I enjoyed a pleasant visit to Berlin city and found that a big city can also be well planned, managed, clean and green.  Also, the dinner party by Kurosh and his family was unforgettable.

I came to know a lot about German culture through interactions with many close German friends. I enjoyed the fraternity party invited by Max which was of completely different experience to me as most of the fraternity members attended the party who were living and those who lived there in the past for their studies.  The student fraternity house was from 1889. There were traditional ceremonies and dinner party. Many seniors also shared their experiences. I also visited Kurosh family house in Braunschweig, where I felt like part of his family.

I, with friend Sourojit, Abhineet and Yannick visited Luise’s home village. We met her mother, who is a farmer did potato farming. The technology used in storage and management has done very innovatively. I too have a farm in my country, and I would like to transfer this management and technology. I attended many parties with friends and got to know a lot of people and German culture, which is entirely different from ours. Also had the chance to visit the Christmas Market on 27 the November, the first day of opening with Benjamin and Christopher. The memory there will always last. I was amazed to find the price difference in hair cutting. In India, it generally cost 50 cents, but in Germany, it starts at 12 euros. I was also an organizing member at Indo German Challenge team and was fortunate to visit India from 28.09.2019 to 06.10.2019 with the German side. It was a lovely experience to come back and return in a week. I made a lot of new German friends and got to know each other better and better. During my stay, I worked on the 3D printing use case with sustainability aspects. I became aware, learnt and stared working on a lot of tools, techniques and recent developments in the field of Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things. Prof. Hermann and Prof. Thiede always supported and guided me in this field. My colleagues Benjamin and Christopher always helped me with any needs during this period. I am also thankful to my office mates and colleagues Steffen and Jacob, who always helped and supported me with useful information (especially about birthday party celebration at IWF kitchen hall). Coffee break in between the work was similar to Chai break in India. I always enjoyed the PhD day celebration and game played afterwards. A trip to industrial visit to Audi gas plant, chemical plant and VDI at Düsseldorf with Benjamin, Erica and a group of students.

I came back from Germany on 30.11.2019 to BITS Pilani Campus. The kind of love, affections, support, cooperation and hospitality that I received in Germany will always unforgettable memories and will always remain fresh in my mind inspiring and motivating me to work towards excellence. My thoughts and vision have been widened and started to look at things from a different approach and angles with broadened horizons. This shift in paradigm has started me to think the whole world as a family (also mentioned in our ancient Sanskrit Mantra as Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam). We are all interdependent and face similar challenges and should be united and work to deal with the global problems facing us, especially sustainability issues. I wish to apply all those techniques that I learnt and were exposed to from Germany in my research and contribute myself in making this world a better place.