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Oktober 2013 - Juli 2013

Sendhil Raja

India – Puducherry – Pondicherry Engineering College - Fakultät Bio- und Chemieingenieurwesen – M.Sc. in Process Systems Engineering


My decision on studying abroad was a dream-came-true from my childhood. I believed that it will be an unforgettable experience in my life, which became true during my course of study at TU Dortmund University. Personally, I always wish to get experiences in a different culture, meeting a diverse range of people, learning new languages, making new friends, etc. Professionally, it develops the confidence level, problem solving skills and helps gaining a global mind-set. Obviously, I believed it will look good in my CV and increase international job prospects in the market.

 Alumnus of TU Dortmund © Sendhil Rajaraman​/​TU Dortmund

When I decided to do my Masters, the first step of selection which I made was Europe – a continent with many countries and expectations on multi-cultural environment. As Germany was one of the world‘s most active and diversified market for science, technology, research and development, I chose it. Germany is well-positioned as an academic hub. No doubt that it’s the technological head of Europe where it opens up for science and technology innovation opportunities to infinity. As a known fact, Germany welcomes qualifying international students with a warm hug. Then began the real challenge of selecting the appropriate university inside Germany, which was bit difficult because every university had its unique highlights. The course offered by Fakultät of BCI has pioneered my interest area with its course design and curriculum. As the innovative chemical engineering technologies were shaping Dortmund’s industrial and research landscape by the contribution of BCI from TU Dortmund University which piqued my interest over-seeing the opportunities for newbies.

First days

To be frank, I was bit late (20 days) to join the course due to some visa delay issues. Once I reached Germany, I was welcomed by some of my new colleagues in the Düsseldorf airport. TU Dortmund University`s Welcomer team guided me in completing my initial formalities at the university and town hall. I was glad in meeting my new batch-mates from all over the world. Soon after I reached in few days, I experienced a heavy snowfall (which was recorded highest in past 10 years). It was great facing this situation even though it had some tough part of grooming yourself with multiple layers. Since I joined late, I was with a load of technical stuffs to get through and make myself comfortable with other and keep myself in track. This was bit challenging initially and I somehow managed to solve with the help of my friends over there. I always agree European food is really balanced and healthy. But initially, I missed my taste with all spices etc. I did not face anything strange or something like cultural-shock but faced difficulty in speaking proper Deutsch (the pronunciation, grammar, etc.). Also, it was not that tough in integrating to European culture and environment as people around were friendly and easy-going.

I got my accommodation in a private student housing “ RAG Bildung Gmbh “ (now renamed as TUV Nord Bildung) located in Hangeneystr., Dortmund which was around 10km away from university. The housing facility had individual rooms with common sharing utility services. Luckily, five of us (Myself, Prakash, Bhanu, Prafull, Maryam) from same course were staying there and were able to get to know each other and obviously partying. It was a cool place to stay, which looked like outskirts of Dortmund and was really peaceful with less vehicle traffic and with berry gardens. Even though it was difficult in getting to university in the mornings, since we need to switch 2 domestic connections, it was really wonderful in experiencing such a beautiful landscape.

Cultural Differences

As every international student, I was very eager in meeting new people, experiencing new environment, etc. There was nothing like PREJUDICE, but I got opinions that Germans are rude in conversation. What I faced was something totally different from what I thought or prepared for. People over there were very open and straight forward during their conversation, friendly and PUNCTUAL. Every culture has its own unique characteristics. I believe in the formula of accepting and adapting to new culture and life. Everyday life was different and interesting as a newbie. The major difference which I noticed and acknowledged was the clear differentiation between professional and personal life; business etiquette. I was admired by the German way of taking a break. Yes! Organized get-together, partying and football. As everyone, I was enthusiastic about German cars and its technology. Thanks to carpooling websites (, where I had a chance of exploring in and around Germany with different people and obviously various cars. Few qualities which I like about Germans are craziness over football, deadlines, commitments, encouragement, eagerness in tasting different food, etc. Last but not least to point out is the German beers and its variety which are incomparable and mind-blowing.

Leisure Time

During leisure time, I liked listening to music, cooking good Indian food, partying with friends and roaming around Europe. I tried to cover almost as many places as I can in and around Germany during my free time. I had the chance to visit Köln, Aachen, Bonn, Paderborn, Stuttgart, Mannheim, Freiburg, Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg and covered almost all major cities in NRW. It was quite a mind-blowing experience in visiting different places in Germany. Apart from Germany, I had wonderful opportunities to visit most of the places in France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland. The remarkle experience was the cruise trip from Stockholm to Helsinki with travel time of 38 hours through Baltic sea.

Favorite places in Dortmund

The first and foremost place which myself and my friends agree would be favorite places with excellent food varieties. In that category, we list TU Dortmund University`s Mensa at the University, followed by Anadoulou Grill near the Central Station, Mc Donald’s. Apart from the above listed, I personally like the place: Hangeney Str. (RAG Bildung) in Dortmund where my life at Dortmund started, Studenten Wohnheim Ostenbergstr 109 (my second place of residence at Dortmund). Not to forget, we as a team like to spend our time in roaming around Signal Iduna Park, city center, Reinoldikirche, Christmas market and university campus.

TU Dortmund University

Life at TU Dortmund University will be an important phase in my era. The university landscape and environment is really welcoming, comfortable and motivating for every student. The student facilities on accessing the library, department area and hospitality services are fabulous. The faculty members right from Professors to students are fantastic. To be frank, the course kept us very busy with technical stuff and was encouraging. I sincerely thank all the faculty members in TUD for their warm approach to students when requested. Apart from technical faculties, I would like to mention one person whom I felt the backbone of course and students‘motivation was Mrs. Kirsten Lindner-Schwentick who was supporting students to discuss the pros and cons and kept herself free and open for all discussions. The study system differs between every country. Back in India, we used to study a lot of stuffs with numerous books, articles, etc. The testing system was writing a 3-hour examination for 100 or 200 marks. Technological support related to the course was limited when compared to strength of the class. In Germany, comparable equal effort on gaining knowledge with study material was given but it was categorized and organized in a different way. The training given was to directly solve practical issues and gain problem solving skills. The main difference we all faced was the examination system with 1 hour and total marks of 25, but questions were direct to the concept and not about the concept. Training oneself in solving issues efficiently within the given timeframe was interesting. Professor-Student relationship was more straight-forward in Germany when compared to India. Spontaneous questions with well described explanation. Student freedom was more, that is if I feel uncomfortable in class, I am allowed to walk out straightaway without seeking permission.

Advice for students, who will come to Germany in the future...

Instead of the word advice, I prefer stating it as suggestions,

  • Prepare yourself to face a new environment and without more expectations
  • People in Germany are very formal and friendly, and try to integrate into their culture as soon as possible
  • Building networks will be a very valuable asset
  • Be lively to attend parties, watching football
  • Public transportation in Germany is your friend and it’s THE efficient
  • Try to learn to do things yourself (living, cooking, cleaning, washing, etc.)
  • Being punctual, fixing appointments, commitments and deadline management
  • Follow Rules and regulations
  • Be upright in things which you need and ask for
  • Weekend means it’s a WEEKEND with no professional appointments
  • Try to educate yourself with all facilities and services provided for students
  • Last but-not the least, learning the local language may not be mandatory, but it will make you more comfortable and easier to integrate with country-men

Life after leaving

My stay in Dortmund was 2 years and 9 months, which I feel one of the prime parts in my life. First phase of my life, where I learnt to organize and manage myself personally and professionally. It taught me to be punctual, straight-forward, handling issues, meeting deadlines, improving self-confidence and independent. In total, the overall experience was challenging, bit-tough but do-able, exciting and I was completely satisfied. During my course of stay at TUD, I learnt about the building oneself to compete at European job market. In the university, career guidance programmed was organized for the final semester students and was very productive and helpful in achieving my professional goals. Also, I got an opportunity to attend the job fairs like Konaktiva (in Dortmund), VDI Nachrichten (in Dortmund), Connecticum (in Berlin), Job Messe (in Köln) to integrate myself and choose my career path in the European market. Instead of the context which I will miss about Germany, I put in a way that what I wish to experience or practice which I learnt from my life in Germany are:

  • Environment caring
  • The holidays “are THE holidays” and no work
  • Healthcare

I wish to take back the professionalism which I learnt and obviously I should not forget to take couple of beers too J. But, I would definitely miss the variety of breads, sausages, and experiencing all the four seasons at its extreme.

Thoughts come in mind when thinking about life at Dortmund...

  • Self-confidence
  • Green Environment, Wifi
  • University Campus, Bibliothek, Mensa, S-Bahn and H-Bahn Station
  • Studentenwohnheim
  • Late night roaming at the city
  • Weihnachtsmarkt, Oktoberfest
  • Euro-Trips, TCB Picnic and Annual Dept Outing
  • Department of Technische Chemie – B
  • River-rafting
  • Parties, get-together, Birthday, New Year and Christmas celebration
  • Working with Kirsten as a Welcomer for new students
  • Fluid Mechanics (People from PSE and mates can guess what I say)
  • Internship at Lyondell Basell (Wesseling)
  • Group Project, Master Thesis defense, Graduation Day
  • And the wonderful colleagues, mates, mentor, supervisor, co-ordinator and Professors