Unforgettable Moments: My Life-Changing Experience as an Exchange Student in Germany

Dear friends,
I am thrilled to share with you the incredible journey I embarked on as an exchange student at the renowned University of Potsdam in Germany. As a second-year master's student in the esteemed Department of Hydrology at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, I was granted the privilege to participate in the prestigious Co-PREPARE program. This unique collaboration between my department and the Institute of Environmental Science and Geography the University, of Potsdam opened doors to a world of knowledge and unforgettable experiences.

It all began on that fateful day, the 27th of December 2022, when I stumbled upon an advertisement for the Co-PREPARE master's exchange scholarships. My excitement soared, and without wasting a moment, I applied for this golden opportunity. To my great fortune, I was selected to be part of this life-altering program. My heart overflows with gratitude towards my supervisor, Prof. Manoj Jain, Prof. Ankit Agarwal (Project Investigator), Prof. Axel Bronstert (German Supervisor), and the entire dedicated Co-PREPARE team for believing in me and granting me this remarkable opportunity.

The journey from the visa application process in India to my arrival in Germany was no small feat. However, I was blessed to receive unwavering support from Aniruddha, a previous CoPREPARE scholarship recipient. His invaluable guidance and assistance made this journey smooth and hassle-free. Even the smallest queries were met with his unwavering willingness to help. I owe him a debt of gratitude for ensuring that every step was taken with utmost care and attention.

Stepping foot in Germany, I was greeted at the Frankfurt airport by my colleagues and fellow project mates, Kusumitha Umesh and Vijay Kumar Thota. Together, we embarked on a train journey to Potsdam, the city of wonders that would become our home for the coming months. The University of Potsdam's buddy program immediately won our hearts. Each Erasmus and exchange student was assigned a buddy, and I must express my heartfelt appreciation to Tahnee Wehner and her dear friend Luca. Despite having exams that week, they selflessly took time out of their busy schedules to welcome us with open arms, pick us up from Potsdam Hauptbahnhof, and accompany us to our dormitory. Tahnee's warmth and kindness were unmatched as she graciously gave us a tour of the Neues Palais Campus and assisted us in setting up the Wi-Fi router in our rooms.

From the very first day, the campus and its surroundings took my breath away. Autumn draped the landscape with a mesmerizing palette of colors, creating a picturesque backdrop for my academic pursuits. The stunning architecture and vibrant atmosphere became a source of inspiration and tranquility during the busy weeks of learning and discovery.


Figure 1: In Delhi airport, excited for my first international flight.

What struck me most during my stay in Germany was the impeccable work-life balance the Germans effortlessly embody. The locals embraced a disciplined lifestyle, with minimal usage of smartphones, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the present moment and connect with the world around them. The attention to detail and precision they exhibited in their work was awe-inspiring. On weekdays, their unwavering focus and commitment to their professions were evident, while weekends were dedicated entirely to quality time spent with loved ones. This harmonious integration of work and personal life left a profound impact on me, highlighting the importance of balance and well-being.

A true highlight of my experience was when Prof. Axel Bronstert and his team treated us to a visit to the enchanting Christmas market at the Brandenburg Gate. Despite the freezing temperatures, the joy and warmth radiated from the camaraderie of the people surrounding me. We delighted in the magical atmosphere, with colorful lights illuminating the night sky and the delightful aroma of festive treats filling the air. Prof. Axel's thoughtfulness and generosity in organizing this outing created unforgettable memories, bonding us as a close-knit group and fostering a sense of unity and appreciation for German traditions.

But the wonders didn't end there. As an exchange student, I had the privilege of residing in a dormitory alongside other international students. This vibrant community became my second family, and we created lasting bonds through occasional pizza and dinner parties. These gatherings not only satisfied our taste buds but also brought us together, allowing us to share our diverse cultures and experiences. Laughter, stories, and heartfelt connections filled the room, making us feel at home even in a foreign land.


Figure 2: Saw this beautiful tree on my way to my workplace in Golm.


Figure 3: Workplace One of many gatherings with Co-PREPARE colleagues.

Thanks to the semester ticket, which covered transportation charges for the entire Brandenburg region, I eagerly explored Berlin and its magnificent surroundings during my free time. The city's rich history and vibrant energy mesmerized me at every turn. From the iconic Brandenburg Gate to the majestic Berlin Wall, each landmark had a story to tell. Navigating the city's efficient public transportation system, I ventured into its cultural hotspots, delved into world-class museums, and savored the diverse culinary delights that Berlin had to offer. Every new discovery expanded my horizons and ignited a thirst for knowledge and adventure.

Reflecting on this life-changing experience, I am filled with immense gratitude and a newfound perspective. These six months in Potsdam, Germany, have woven themselves into the fabric of my being, shaping me into a more open-minded and culturally aware individual. I urge all my juniors and aspiring students to seize opportunities like the Co-PREPARE program and embrace the wealth of knowledge and personal growth that comes with international exchange. It is through these experiences that we truly comprehend the vastness of our world and the endless possibilities that lie within reach.

With deep affection and cherished memories,

Dani Rinyo


Figure 4: A dinner party with my dormitory mates.