In this portrait, Shivam Sharma talks about what it's like to come to Paderborn University as an international student and what has helped him along the way.
Shivam Sharma is 27 years old and started his master's degree in computer science in 2019, specializing in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Prior to that, he studied in his home country of India.
His goal with his studies is to work on solutions to the major problems facing society today. It is important for Shivam to work on further and more sustainable ways of using energy to promote sustainability, especially with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
He has always been a very curious person, and this is certainly an advantage for him, as it gives him the drive to expand his own limits and knowledge.
Shivam decided to study for a master's degree at Paderborn University after a long research, because of the expertise, as well as the teachers, in the research field of artificial intelligence and machine learning is advanced and represents a good record of cutting-edge research.
In addition, tuition fees in countries like the U.S., Canada, and Australia, where he also applied, are much higher than those in Germany.
Shivam is particularly excited about the fact that the university is very focused on research. Especially the state-of-the-art equipment with the high-performance computers convinced him to choose Paderborn. He also finds it great how committed and goal-oriented the people here are "working to create something new that will benefit society and future generations."
The early days and the winter blues
He describes his early days at Paderborn University as an emotional roller coaster: "I came to a new country, far away from home, and had to get used to meeting new people and communicating with them. But I got used to it and now I would say I'm having a really good time here."
However, Shivam also reports that the winter depression familiar to Europe unfortunately caught up with him and affected him especially at the beginning of his studies. It was especially important for him then to continue to focus on his studies as well, but also to look for other activities around it and to build a network with different people.
One important thing he learned for himself from this time is that despite language barriers or cultural differences, it is important to approach people or ask for help.
"You don't have to be afraid to ask people. They are very nice and that's the only way to get to know each other."
Paderborn University also offers psychosocial counseling for all students, where you can get advice and support for study-related and personal problems.
In the meantime, Shivam is also an active member of the university's mentor program, a community for international students who come to Germany or even before they come to Germany. There, each student is assigned a so-called "buddy", a volunteer student who helps other students to find their way around the university and the city, especially at the beginning. Among other things, the buddies help you find a place to live, set up a bank account or choose the right health insurance. Of course, buddies also help with questions about the study program itself.
Work-life balance at university
Apart from his studies, Shivam tries to achieve a good work-life balance. For this purpose, he likes to play soccer and badminton or read motivational books, but also enjoys reading a fantasy novel. About the university campus itself, he says, "I love the nature at the university, all the greenery and the sports fields, where you can just sit down to switch off and relax, as well as listen to the birds chirping."
But he has also come to appreciate the various cultural offerings, such as the AStA Summer Festival and the regular Intercultural Week, after the pandemic. Shivam describes campus life as a great community where everyone is very helpful, friendly and open.
5 Tips to other students:
- set goals and figure out a timeline for how you will approach them in order to achieve them.
- look for ways to motivate yourself to stay disciplined, especially to stay well through the winter months.
- Stay active, even when you're not studying. Participate in activities that you enjoy so that there is a good balance between university and free time and you don't get bored.
- Don't be afraid to approach people and ask for help. Most people are very open-minded and friendly, but they can't help you if you don't communicate.
- also look for practical experience, such as a working student job, in a coffee shop or other casual jobs. Because next to everything theoretical, that should not come too short.
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