Apoorva Ravishankar from India has been in Paderborn since March 2019 to achieve her master’s degree in Computer Science. We already spoke to her last summer to see how she has settled in Germany (the first interview can be found here). After nearly completing two semesters at the university she speaks to us again about her German language skills, the progress of her studies and about career opportunities in Germany.
How did you spend the Christmas time?
I visited a couple of Weihnachtsmärkte in Germany and spent Christmas in Hannover. I went there with my friends and we ate different kinds of Christmas specialities. We had a great time!
Talking about Hannover, have you travelled to any other places in Germany?
Yes, I have travelled to München, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Köln and Hannover. Berlin is my favourite city, because it’s very international and people are kind and friendly. The public transport also runs throughout the night so it’s very safe to return home after a party.
Have you been able to improve your German language skills?
Of course! The last time I was interviewed, I wasn’t part of any German course and had to study on my own using online resources. But now I am taking part in the German B1 class at the university and I have improved a lot. I also attend a fitness course at Hochschulsport and the course is completely in German, so I converse with the other participants in German and obviously at the supermarkets as well!
How have your studies developed?
My first semester went well, and I successfully cleared all my subjects. I could also use that experience in order to apply for jobs here. Fortunately, I was selected for a couple of them. As a part of my curriculum Iam pursuing a one-year-long project on strategic product planning at Fraunhofer IEM and HNI, a seminar with the DICE Group, the German language course and two subjects. It’s a little too much to handle but I am able to catch up. I also really enjoy the course Machine Learning 1 by Prof. Dr. Eyke Hüllermeier. Initially it was very difficult to comprehend, as it involved a lot of statistics and probability. But thankfully the professor took topics smoothly and in a progressive fashion. This helped me to grasp concepts from the lecture.
What kind of difference do you notice in learning and teaching between India and Germany?
One difference that I noticed, we didn’t have tutorials or practise hours after every lecture in India. These enable students to work on tasks related to the theory taught in class. Here the professor repeats the topics and tells us how to connect theory with practice. Most assignments are worked out during these hours and we discuss among groups how to solve the problem. Another difference is that back in India we don’t have the “Studienleistung”. Also, teachers here are strict with assignments and deadlines. I think I have been more disciplined in the past year than in all my previous years.
Do you have more written oral exams and which do you prefer?
I have heard that during this semester most of the lecturers only do written exams because there are a lot of students and for them to conduct the oral exams it would take a lot of time. I prefer oral exams because I can articulate my points and make the professor understand what I have understood and so the grades would be appropriately calculated. In written exams it’s very hard to articulate my point and to know what the professor expects. Even though I am mostly used to written exams in the past, I tremble at times with German professors.
Have you been in touch with companies in Germany already?
Yes, I have. I had a chance to interact with a lot of companies in and around Paderborn during the three-day Job Messe at the University. Also, the Campus Consult does weekly/monthly company visits. This gives a good insight into the German industry and the type of work happening here. I now have a job offer from Fraunhofer IEM and will be working there as a research assistant. It’s going to be a new experience working in Germany.
Do you have any advice for international students?
A lot of students come with big hopes and enthusiasm to Germany. I believe in order to complete your master’s successfully, we need motivation and dedication. I faced minor setbacks too, especially as the bad weather and being away from family has at times affected my mood. Ultimately, we must focus on our goals and work towards them by taking help from friends and teachers.