Ian Ken Dimzon (from the Philippines), Vladimir Osipov (from Belarus), Rogério Salloum (from Brazil) and Mihaela Georgeta Ungureanu (from Romania) have something in common: they all worked or are currently working on their project in Germany. They shared with us their views and tips on making a Marie Curie experience in Germany as easy and as enriching as possible.
Germany, well-known for its engineering, chemical industry and advanced technology
Although our Fellows chose this country for different reasons, Germany is considered a “target country” for many, according to Ungureanu, an engineer specialised in dynamic interactions between brain areas. Salloum’s project is bringing together researchers across Europe covering with expertise in three areas: noise, vibration and harshness, lightweight design and hybridisation/electrification. He chose Germany “mainly because of its outstanding reputation for engineering”. Dimzon, in charge of a project aiming to minimise the use of animals in chemical testing by developing new in-vitro and in-silico tests, says that, “For a chemistry student who wants to have an industry background, Germany is the place to go”. Osipov also stresses the technical advantages of being in Germany, saying “Germany was chosen, because the Nanotechnology Department in Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) is one of the leading research groups in precise laser micromachining”.
Applying for a Marie Curie Action in Germany is relatively simple…
Preparing for his contract, Osipov had to provide translations of his University Diploma, Ph.D Diploma and Family Status documents. Nevertheless, all his other documents filled in English were accepted by the German Embassy. For Dimzon, “German translations weren’t required. When I was shortlisted, I was contacted for an interview conducted in English via Skype”. For Salloum, “Official translations were not mandatory for the Institute, but were later requested by the University in order to enroll for the Ph.D”. Ungureanu and Salloum both agreed that applying in Germany was straightforward.
…as is moving to the country
German hosts appear to provide plenty of support all round! When Osipov arrived in Hannover, the university’s administration department helped him to find accommodation. Ungureanu received help from her university to open a bank account in Jena. Salloum and Dimzon were asked to provide a visa and a residence permit, but agreed that this was dealt with very efficiently. According to Salloum, who settled in Darmstadt, “The visa was issued in only 2 weeks. In Germany, all documents were also efficiently issued: residence permit, health insurance, social security number and tax card”. Dimzon was pleased that translations were paid for by the university through his project during his move to Idstein.
Work is planned and well-organised
Our four Fellows all stress how work is organised efficiently in Germany. For Salloum, “the main characteristic of German research is the separation between fundamental research and research applied to industry”, whereas Ungureanu and Dimzon stressed the links between universities and hospitals, and between academies and industry. Salloum particularly enjoyed the fact that “When an idea exists, a thorough strategy is created and the plan executed. All steps are done efficiently and bureaucracy doesn’t slow down engineering. The freedom of inventing and the unlimited use of state-of-the-art laboratory resources are for me the greatest advantages”.
Sprechen Sie Deutsch (Do you speak German)?
All four Fellows agree on the importance of speaking or at least having basic knowledge of German to improve the experience. Coming from the Philippines and being abroad for the first time, Dimzon found “the major difficulties that I encountered during the adjustment period were: weather, understanding the German culture and language”. Salloum has been struck by the hard-working atmosphere: “Here there is less amusement and fewer social exchanges during work time or even during a short coffee break”.
Interesting places to work in Germany
If you are applying for a Fellowhsip in Germany, our Fellows recommend several interesting places to work. According to Osipov, “Working in Jena University, Laser Zentrum Hannover and Bayreuth University was fruitful for research work, a creative team atmosphere and comfortable living”, whereas Dimzon describes Frankfurt and the surrounding area as “a good balance between work, living and leisure. The industrial areas along the rivers Main and Rhine provide good job opportunities for research chemists”. Ungureanu advises working in big cities like Munich or Berlin. According to Salloum it is interesting to work in a public research institute, as there is less pressure about commercialisation and sales than in a private company.
Our four Fellows all have nice memories linked to their stay in Germany. For Ungureanu and Dimzon, Christmas was a great moment. Ungureanu said that she felt as if she and her colleagues “were a family”, while Dimzon enjoyed discovering Germany’s festive specialties “Going to the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) is fun. Drinking Glühwein (warm, spiced wine) and eating Lebkuchen (spiced bread) while chatting with friends or colleagues in a cold snowy night is great experience”. Salloum added that he visited amazing places in Germany during his summer vacations.
Advice for Fellows who would like to work on a research project in Germany
Osipov advises studying German – even a little knowledge can help a lot. Salloum and Dimzon both encourage Fellows to “Go for it!”, with Salloum adding, “Germany has high-level research in many areas and the government really encourages scientists to come, in order to keep the industry strong for the coming years. The quality of life here is really good, costs are lower than some European countries and everything works according to the rules. If you are looking for excellence for your career, here is the right place”. Dimzon advises Fellows to keep in mind their objectives “Do not lose hope if there are many applicants. Do not be misled by people who say that Germans are intimidating. Do not be discouraged if the work description sounds very difficult to achieve”. What’s more, Ungureanu advises open-mindedness, trying to learn as much as possible and establishing connections during your stay in Germany.