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My first international visit for knowledge and adventure Blog by Pragya Badika

Hello, I am Pragya Badika, a PhD scholar from the Department of Hydrology, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IITR). I am very excited and happy to write first blog of my life. In this blog, I would share one of wonderful experience of my life that I had during my first international trip to Germany to attend Potsdam Summer School 2023.

For this opportunity, I wholeheartedly thankful to my supervisor Prof. Ankit Agarwal, who made me know about the Potsdam Summer School and motivated me to participate in it. I am greatly thankful to Co-PREPARE for providing this opportunity and generous funding to cover my travel expenses, accommodation, and registration fees.

On 2nd June, 2023, I received an email with a lifetime opportunity to attend Potsdam Summer School 2023 in Potsdam, Germany from 4th September to 8th September, 2023. I was both delighted and frightened since, even in India, I had never been travel alone to new places, and this was my first trip abroad. My preparation began with a never-ending barrage of ridiculous inquiries from my peers who had previously visited Germany. My adviser was also patient enough to clarify all my doubts and assist me with my travel plans. However, because this was my first overseas trip, I was concerned about travel arrangements, lodging, and the visa application procedure. With the support of my advisor Prof. Ankit Agarwal, Prof. Jurgen Mey, and my colleagues, everything went smoothly, and I finally got the visa to attend Potsdam Summer School.

Time passed in an instant. I grabbed my stuff and was excited to begin the voyage. Then came the departure date, September 2nd, 2023. I was both excited and apprehensive about the voyage on board. With excitement and lots of worries my father, sister, and brother-in-law came to see off me at Indira Gandhi International Airport Delhi. I bid farewell to my relative and boarded the flight to Istanbul, Turkey. Luckily, I had window seat that made me see different natural views. At Istanbul, during my transit period, I explored the airport zone and then boarded for Berlin. I reached Berlin at 6 PM and met my colleague Abhinesh and her friend Nithila. Both of them made me understood different things to take care for the whole stay period. We left for Potsdam using bus and reached Potsdam Hauptbahnhof at 8 pm. I was a new bee in Potsdam. I found the city very quiet in the night and well organized. We had dinner together. I forgot the name of that dish, but it was kind of noodles with rolls and for me it was too much in quantity and very less spiced, so I couldn’t finished it completely. Thanks to Abhinesh and Nithila for finally making me reached to hotel.

Next day i.e. 4th September was the first day of summer school. The sessions for the day were held at Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) which is at walking distance from my hotel. Using the google map, enjoying the Potsdam Street, I reached the RIFS before time. There, first, I met Stella Reschke, one of the participant to summer school. It was great to meet her. Then, I called my parents and made them see the Potsdam Streets. They were very happy to see me there.

At 9 AM, all participants came and finally we on boarded the morning with the help of Dr. Angela Borowski and Setenay with our ID cards and schedule for next 4 days.

The programme began with a cup of coffee, and we used to label the coffee mugs with our names so that we could use the same mug throughout the day (Save Water!)

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The session started with an exciting introduction about the summer school, the city Potsdam and among the participants having joined this Potsdam Summer School from different parts of the globe. Further, Prof. Viola Gerla brought all the participants to RIFS garden, and there with different activities in nature, she made the participants interact with each other and made us to remind our purpose to attend summer school and what we want to take away from the summer school. After lunch, the lecture series began with a lecture by Prof. Armin Grunwald on the Anthropocene, and the day came to an end with a buffet dinner at the RIFS rooftop following with a dinner talk on “How Political may Science be” by Prof. Mark Lawrence. For next two days, with tight schedule, we attended many interesting lectures on important topics such as Anthropocene, multi-generalization justice, role of science in Climate litigation, Arctic Governance, Ocean Governance, Deep seabed mining Responsibilities, Green Hydrogen, and Rights of Nature etcetera. The program was so well organized that there was no space for making a fuss. However, with the tight schedule, we managed to visit some nearby places such as Schiffsanleger Lake, Glienicker Brucke in the evening break time.

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On the fourth day, in morning, we had a fishbowl session on Scientist as Activists and further we had lunch at GFZ canteen and had exciting guided tour at the Potsdam Institute of climate impact research and Alfred Wegener institute located at Telegrafenber. During this tour, we came across many historic buildings (Helmert Tower, Einstein Tower, the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), and the Great Refractor. After the tour, we were our own leisure. So with one of the participant, I went to Berlin. There I visited Alexanderplatz and Berlin Wall memorial among popular tourist attractions.

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8th September, the last day of summer is ended with lectures on Ethics in Science Communication, Reflection on responsibilities in Sustainability science and Responsibilities in research practices. Thereafter, I had privilege to meet Prof. Bruno Merz at GFZ, Telegranfenberg for a general discussion for my research proposal. He is very humble in providing me with his valuable suggestions. In evening with my Indian colleagues Abhinesh and Nithila, I visited the famous Sanssouci palace and eye-soothing greenery. So the week in Potsdam went by in the blink of an eye. As a PhD scholar, this was a great learning experience in a different culture, and I felt like this summer school helped me grasp the sort of continuing research outside of India. Apart from that, it gave me the opportunity to cooperate and speak with working professionals and researchers from all around the world. Many thanks to Dr Angela Borowski and Setenay Kizilkaya for smooth conduction and support of during the program.

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I heartily thanks to Prof. Jurgen Mey, who made my first international trip smooth to Potsdam, Germany with his kind and constant support. Last but not least, I am grateful to my advisor Prof. Ankit Agarwal who constantly supported and motivated me to participate in summer school program.

Danke Sehr!

Pragya