Studying in Germany - Jonelle Jones shares her experience as an Erasmus Mundus scholarEnlarge image In a sea of autumn leaves in the forest at Aumühle ,Hamburg (© Jonelle Jones)
In August 2008, I left Trinidad and Tobago as a recipient of an Erasmus Mundus scholarship in order to pursue the Joint European Master in Water and Coastal Management. Initially, this programme was to be completed at three Universities in the UK, Spain and Portugal. However, upon obtaining my topic of choice for my dissertation I found out that I would also be going to Germany with some other classmates – a funny coincidence since I turned down an opportunity from the DAAD to study in Germany when I accepted the Erasmus Mundus offer!
My time in Germany was spent living in Geesthacht; a small town approximately 35km south-east of Hamburg. I did my Masters work at the International Project Office (IPO) of the Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ) research project. This is a core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP). The LOICZ IPO was located at the GKSS Forschungszentrum (GKSS Research Centre) in Geesthacht in a lovely, forested area situated just outside of the alongside the lower reaches of the Elbe River.
Enlarge image In front of the Elbe and Landungsbrücke in Hamburg (© Jonelle Jones)
At the LOICZ IPO and GKSS facility, everything required for completing our dissertations was readily made available including our own personal work spaces and access to online libraries and journals. Working at and living near to the Centre meant that I was able to continue having the international experience I gained while during my first year as an Erasmus student. I interacted not only with students and researchers who came from all over Germany to work and live in Geesthacht, but from the rest of the world as well. As a result, I was able to interact and learn from students of different cultural backgrounds in addition to those of the Germans.
I had a plethora of opportunities to learn about the people, history and customs of the country. These included living with an elderly German lady and her dog at her home in Bergedorf during my first month, and always asking questions of my colleagues who were always eager to explain and inform. One colleague in particular, Christiane, invited us to her home, showed us around her home city of Lüneburg, and even stood with me in the cold rain one day to watch the Sülfmeistertage Parade in Lüneburg.
Enlarge image With a segment of the Berlin Wall in Potsdamer Platz, Berlin (© Jonelle Jones)
A great deal of my cultural learning experience in Germany came about from my travels throughout Hamburg and the rest of the country. Everywhere I went, I indulged myself in many museums, tours and other attractions that fed my desire to learn first-hand about the Bundesrepublik Deutschland. From visiting the Dachau Concetration Camp Memorial Site near München, to trudging in the snow alongside remnants of the Berlin Wall and the rest of the capital on a city wide tour and much more, I was able to gain the knowledge I sought. Lighter moments were also enjoyed including strolling in the gardens of the beautiful Schwerin Castle, drinking the delicious Glühwein at various Weihnachtsmarkts throughout Hamburg and elsewhere, as well as ringing in the New Year at the Brandenburger Tor and partying all night in Berlin!
I was able to learn and experience so much in Germany that I will be forever grateful for the incredible opportunity and the people who made my stay there a most enjoyable one! Bis später Deutschland!