Widespread laughter, pure joy and exuberance dominated the building of the Projektträger Jülich on Monday morning. This was due to the reunion of the 59 students from the 15 West African ECOWAS states. After the end of the winter semester, they all met again for the first time in Germany. For some, it is the first big trip, a journey to another continent, a foreign country and a new cultural environment.

The journey of the young Africans in the International Master’s Programme IMP-EGH started a year and a half ago. Finally, at the end of April this year, their last hot phase began before their master’s degree awaits: the students came to Germany to write their final thesis. During the turbulent Onboarding Week, the young people had the opportunity to gain their first experiences in Germany.

Why should students actually go abroad?

Some of you may ask: What do the students actually gain from going to Germany? First and foremost, of course, it’s about advancing their own academic education. At Forschungszentrum Jülich, RWTH Aachen University and the University of Rostock, they will experience state-of-the-art research and write their master’s thesis under the guidance of local scientists. Energy research is known to be one of the main areas of research at Forschungszentrum Jülich. Jülich is therefore the right place for the young Africans from the IMP-EGH, who will be future energy experts for renewable energies and green hydrogen. Afterwards, they will take the knowledge they have gathered here back home with them and can pass it on to others.

In addition to the professional components, traveling always brings you into contact with a different culture. You learn something about yourself and other people. That’s another great benefit that travelers bring back home.

Different countries, different weather

While at the end of April for the Germans the jackets are thinner and the walks in the fresh air longer as well as the first sunbeams are enjoyed, in the German areas the nearly 60 students from Africa felt rather like in an icebox. When the usual temperature normally does not drop below 25 degrees, a morning with only five degrees Celsius is a real challenge. This year, unfortunately, April came with exactly these cold degrees and, to make matters worse, with rain on top of it all. And although the wet and cold temperatures were not so pleasant for the visitors who are spoiled by warmth, they assured that experiencing the German weather is simply part of the experience. Through numerous reports via telephone calls, their families were thus also able to share in their experiences.

In addition to the different weather conditions, the students had to overcome all kinds of bureaucratic hurdles. However, the young Africans were not deterred by the very regulated and structured life in Germany. Fortunately! One student, for example, reported on her first impressions of the people in Germany. At first, she had some reservations and was worried about what it would be like when she arrived in Germany. It was all the more surprising for her to meet such open and supportive people.

Question of the week: Why do Germans walk so fast?

As a German, there was one question I could not answer and at the same time it made me ponder. The first week included some visits to various institutes in Jülich and Aachen. Unfortunately, one student lost his group. On the way to his group and the right institute, we got to talking and he asked: Why do Germans always walk so fast?

Good question! Why actually?

https://www.fz-juelich.de/de/aktuelles/news/meldungen/2023/59-masterand-innen-aus-westafrika (german)

https://www.jara.org/en/research/energy/news/detail/IMP-EGH-Official-welcome-germany

https://www.fz-juelich.de/en/research/energy

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