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Co-PREPARE project students exchange program to Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, India by Sten Gilfert

Beginning of the Scholarship and Travel to India
In April 2021, I joined the Co-PREPARE project. I was excited to visit India one day. Finally, after almost a year, when I was about to lose hope entirely, pandemic settled enough so that I was able to travel. Beforehand of my journey, a lot of forms and other things had to be managed and I am grateful to all members of Co-PREPARE and especially to Dr. Jürgen Mey and Prof. Ankit Agarwal who helped me a lot arranging everything.
The journey went out perfectly and after almost 24h of traveling I arrived at IIT Roorkee. I must admit that I was a little bit overwhelmed by traffic in the beginning but I got used to it after a while. Now, I am sitting in my room at Khosla International Guesthouse and I'm really exhausted but also very excited how things will work out in the next couple of weeks.

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Figure 1: Khosla International Guesthouse where I stayed the entire time.

First days at IIT Roorkee

At the beginning I roamed around the campus. Luckily, Dr. Vimal showed me the most important areas at the campus. Therefore, I was able to find my way arround really quickly. I started to use the sport facilities to go for a little run as long as it is still kind of cold with temperatures below 30°C. With the beginning of the first week, I was introduced to the IR Office. They helped me to participate at a hiking trip in the Himalayas. Special thanks goes to Maram from IR Office in that regard. Without her tremendous effort this would not have worked out.
And during that day I met Prof. Ankit Agarwal, finally. We walked around the campus for a while and had a nice talk. The next day, he introduced me to everyone from the hydrology department.

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Figure 2: Pathway towards the main building at IITR campus.

Roorkee Water Conclave 2022

One of the highlights took place directly in the first week of my stay, the second Roorkee Water Conclave (RWC). There, I was able to meet some people with whom I went for some activities like pool billard, kicker and Carrom some other days. But back to the conference. It were three days of interesting talks and discussion and I also saw some familiar faces like Prof. Axel Bronstert who gave an interesting talk about erosion and sediment transport in semi-arid and mountainous regions. My personal highlight at the conference was the talk by Prof. Bruno Merz about disastrous river floods and their causes and impacts. Last, a huge thanks towards the organizing team of the RWC to manage such a conference in hybrid mode without any major issues. As it was a hybrid conference a few technical glitches happened but all in all no major issues occurred.

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Figure 3: Entry to Roorkee Water Conclave at Lecture Hall Complex and during validictory session.

Hiking trip to Kedarkantha

From 06. to 08. of March I went for a hiking trip organized by the Himalayan Explorers Club (HEC) at IITR. First, I learned the difference between 11 pm German time and 11 pm Indian to meet. So, I waited like 1 hour before it got at least a little bit crowded at the agreed meeting point. Anyways, I met a lot people there with whom I spent the next days. To be honest, I thought I could sleep in the bus most of the time. This didn’t work out at all. As soon as we arrived at the Himalayas the winding road denied my sleep. But, from dawn on I didn’t want to sleep anyways, because I was simply looking around, totally astonished by the Himalayas, although I have been in high mountain areas before. Then after several hours we finally reached Sankri, where our hiking trip started. From there we went around 5 km towards our base camp where we stayed in tents for two days. The next day, we started early to reach the summit Kedarkantha. It was a really nice trip and considering that we were like 70 people I must admit that it went kind of smooth. After reaching the tree line, the beautiful view to other summits in this area started. Simply gorgeous. On the way back, we slipped off the mountain and covered the distance in 20 minutes that took us about 2 hours uphill. Still, we needed a few ours to get back to the base camp and sunlight vanished. So, we went the last remaining kilometers in the dark using our flash lights. But everything worked out and we left no one behind in the dark. The moment we arrived at the base camp again, I fall asleep almost immediately. The way back to the bus and afterwards to IITR nothing exciting happened. And after a long drive we arrived around 3 am in the morning.

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Figure 4: Campsite, view from mountain site, crowd during a break and sunset on the way downhill.

Working on Thesis

Unfortunately, I got sick after the hiking trip and I stayed in my room for a while. The moment I felt a little bit better, I began to continue my work on my thesis. There, I made huge progress during my entire stay at IITR. But unfortunately, my illness put a spanner in the works and I could no longer participate in any field trip. In that time, the holy festival took place in India and people wandered around the campus colored and I got colored myself as well. That was really fun.

Haridwar

Together with some friends I also visited Haridwar. There, we went for some holy dips in the river Ganges and participated at a Aarti. It was interesting for me to see how different religious rituals are compared to the ones I know from the Christianity. Afterwards, we grabbed some local food and I got a t-shirt gifted by my friends Vimal, Soumya and Panda.

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Figure 5: Me in front of NC Nigam where I ate during my stay colored at holi day and in Haridwar right before the Aarti.

Rafting

On my last full day I went for a rafting trip to Rishikesh together with some friends. It was a really nice experience to raft and swim in the Ganges, although it was really cold if we stayed longer in the water. Afterwards, we participated at a Aarti in Rishikesh and went for some food at a local restaurant. I would say it was the perfect ending of my stay in India.

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Figure 6: Cataracts and crowd of enthusiasting rafting people at the starting spot upstream of Rishikesh. On the bottom right the aarti at Rishikesh.

Head back to Germany

To make sure my travel back to Germany goes smooth, I left IITR already one day before my flight and I stayed at a hotel close to the airport in Delhi. Again I must thank Prof. Ankit Agarwal but also Dr. Vimal to help me organize everything. And again no real issues occurred on my way back to Germany.

Final statement

All in all, I must say it was a wonderful stay at IITR and I am really grateful to made this experience as part of my scholarship within the CO-Prepare project. I encourage every interest student to participate in order to meet different cultures and exchange knowledge, experience and friendship.

blog_Sten_8 Fig8: Inside the workspace with PCs installed