IIT Roorkee to University of Potsdam: My First International Travel

Hello readers..!!
I am Babita Malakar, master’s student from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IITR). This blog encompasses my first international travel experience. But prior sharing that, let me tell you how it all happened!
It was our second semester of master’s degree at IITR, when we received an email regarding the call for CoPREPARE fellowship. Enthusiastically, I applied for the fellowship and few days later, I received the confirmation of my selection. Yayy! I got excited but at the same time, there were a lot of preparations to be done in the next couple of months, starting from registration to the University of Potsdam, VISA application to dorm application etc. It all went smoothly with the support of my guide, Prof. Sumit Sen and the principal investigator of CoPREPARE project, Prof. Ankit Aggarwal.

Babita_Malakar_2 Figure 1 - Ready to Fly

The onset of my journey to Germany brought a bunch of mixed feelings inside me. On one hand, I was elated to visit a foreign country; however, I was also afraid as I was pushing myself out of comfort zone. October 1st 2021 was the day when I began my first international travel journey. The journey till the Frankfurt Airport was smooth. The struggle began when I received my luggage - two large trolleys of more than 23 kilos each and a backpack full of documents and the laptop. It was difficult for me to carry such heavy luggage but somehow I managed to reach the railway station which was connected to the airport. With huge difficulty, I managed to board the train. But little did I know that this was just the beginning. I had to catch a connecting train which needed me to change the platform. All this had to be done in 10 minutes and guess what; my first train was already 3 to 4 minutes late. While I was dragging my luggage, a German gentleman offered me his help with luggage. Being shy, I politely refused his help. But still he insisted and helped me in boarding the train safely. Due to the generosity of an unknown person who himself was in hurry, I didn’t miss my train. It felt good to experience this cordial behaviour on my first day in Germany. So, my first interaction with German people can be summed up by one word – kindness.

Babita_Malakar_3 Figure 2 - Mesmerising view from my ICE train

Babita_Malakar_4 Figure 3 - My home for next six months (Studentenwerk dorm)

After reaching the dorm, I could not get the keys of my room as it was past the working hours of the dorm caretaker. My friend suggested me to stay in his room until I get my room keys but I was hesitant thinking that it would be inconvenient for his roommate. I immediately informed about the situation to Prof Ankit and within a few minutes, he forwarded me Fathima mam’s contact number, who is a doctoral student at the University of Potsdam. She was kind enough to pick me up from my dorm and offered me a warm welcome to her house. This summarizes my first day in Germany.