Ambassador Program for International Researchers
To quickly feel comfortable in a new place, you need a social network. Get to know our ambassadors and learn from their experience!
Looking for additional information and personal advice?
Are you an international researcher planning to start working at TU Dortmund University? Have you read all the information and formal guidelines on the university website and still have questions about how it all works out in day-to-day life? Are you interested in personal experiences of other international employees?
Find out what brought our ambassadors to TU Dortmund University, get to know their experiences of living and working here, and make use of their tips for newcomers.
Get in touch!
If you have any questions about the working environment at the departments, living in Dortmund, relocation experience, or PhD life in general you can get in touch with one of our ambassadors. Have a look at the different profiles below and feel free to contact the ambassdors via mail.
Please avoid contacting the ambassadors concerning general and administrative questions, since they are here to help you with their knowledge gained from personal experiences only. If you have questions about practical matters such as visa regulations, required documents or accommodation please contact the Welcome Services.
Name: Samin Jamal Abadi
Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Country of origin: Iran
Languages: Persian, English
Department: Electrical Engineering & Information Technology
Hobbies: Tennis, travelling, meeting new people, and learning about different cultures
Why TU Dortmund University? TU Dortmund University is one of the most prestigious technical universities in Germany. It is strong not only in each specialized discipline but also in the interdisciplinary research
Working at TU Dortmund University: During my Master studies at TU Dortmund University I found a deep interest in research. I enjoy following my curiosity and solving the problems it discovers. That is why I decided to continue my studies as a PhD student. I like the mixture of research, teaching, and supervision activities.
Tips for prospective international researchers: I think as a PhD student it is important to select a topic you’re genuinely passionate about. Also, for me, developing my confidence was the key issue I had to work on when I started working in a new country. And definitely, learning German can make your journey much easier.
Settling down in Dortmund: I have experienced the process of settling down in Dortmund to be quite challenging when I couldn’t communicate in German. Now after having taken some free courses at the university, I feel much better.
Name: Thanet Pitakbut
Contact details: email@example.com
Country of origin: Thailand
Languages: Thai, English
Department: Biochemical and Chemical Engineering
Hobbies: Boxing, swimming
Why TU Dortmund University? Even though TU Dortmund University is a technical university, I like that it does not only focus on the applied side, but also engages in fundamental research. This is very important for my area of interest - sharing the biosynthesis between plant and its microbe. TU Dortmund University provides good facilities for my research, and I enjoy working with people here. They are experts who can provide great supervision and support for young academics.
Working at TU Dortmund University: Working here at TU Dortmund University as a PhD researcher expands my knowledge vertically and horizontally: I apply state-of-art techniques to fill the knowledge gap and constantly learn new things. What I also find great is that you can participate in extra activities that sharpen your soft skills. For instance, you can participate in career development workshops, join social excursiosn with your research group, or attend the annual Christmas party.
Tips for prospective international researchers: Stay push and be open-minded
Your life in Dortmund: My main struggle when I first came to Dortmund was to find accommodation. I had hoped there would be some university assistance for the foreign PhD students but back then such service did not exist yet. Fortunately, I found one spot in a WG – a shared apartment – on the website that my friend recommended me.
German culture: German culture is very different from my home country. I was surprised that people here have their own office hours, and you have to make an appointment if you need to discuss something with your supervisor or colleagues. In Thai universities we have an open door policy: it is possible to reach anyone within their office hours from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. without an appointment.
Settling down in Dortmund: There is a Facebook page organized by the Thai Student Council in Germany. It is a great platform for Thai students and researchers to meet each other easily. But still it’s essential to find new friends and integrate into German society. A couple of good ways to achieve this is doing sports at the university and participating in the workshops being offered.
Name: Emmanuel Kofi Gavu
Contact details: Emmanuelkofi.firstname.lastname@example.org
Country of origin: Ghana
Languages: English, German, French, Akan, Ewe, Avatime and Hausa
Department: Spatial Planning
Hobbies: Reading, photography and singing
Why TU Dortmund University? I chose TU Dortmund University because of its reputation in teaching and research in the area of spatial planning. For me it was quite an easy decision as the school of spatial planning directly matches my research interests.
Working at TU Dortmund University: Working at TU Dortmund University has been a learning curve for me, especially as a PhD student. One is supposed to be independent and the same time being able to fit in a team. What I like here is that colleagues and supervisors easily warm up to you. To make life easy for any newcomer, I say this: “If you need help, just ask”.
Tips for prospective international researchers: I advise the prospective international researchers abd students to contact the international office in order to get in touch with some people from their home regions. You can get great survival tips for the first couple of months after your arrival. I think it is very important, because some people prefer keeping to themselves and miss out on what the university and the city of Dortmund have to offer.
Your life in Dortmund: Looking back at the first months of my stay in Dortmund, I wish I had downloaded the app for public transport. Now it is always a life saver for me, as one can tell whether a particular connection is arriving on time or later.
Name: Muhammad Rayan
Contact details: email@example.com
Country of origin: Pakistan
Languages: English, Urdu, Pushto
Department: Spatial Planning
Hobbies: Traveling, photography, badminton, cricket, and cycling
Why TU Dortmund University? The underlying motivations for coming to TU Dortmund University was to learn and share my experience in the field of green infrastructure and resilient cities in an international environment. Here I could sharpen my critical thinking and problem solving and improve my research skills.
Working at TU Dortmund University: TU Dortmund University provides great conditions for young researchers to accomplish their research goals. It provides an environment where you can build good relationships with your colleagues, achieve mutual learning and build partnership between the global North and the global South. I value the guidance provided by other researchers and experts in my research area, as it helped me a lot to shape my research ideas.
Your life in Dortmund: Dortmund is a multicultural city with a population of almost 600,000 inhabitants from all over the world. If you stay open, you can learn so much about different cultures.
The city also offers a wide range of leisure and sports facilities. For example, you can go to see a soccer game at the Borussia Dortmund stadium or take a walk in the big Westfalenpark. I especially like that almost half the city is covered with green spaces and parks.
German culture: Dortmund was not the first city where I experienced German culture. I did my Master’s at the University of Stuttgart. I am willing to admit, I love the country: the open atmosphere, a lot of green spaces, cultural hotspots, and multicultural environment.
Tips for prospective international researchers: In Dortmund, finding a private accommodation is quite hard, and it is important to be aware of all the options. The first option is university guest housing, but due to limited number of rooms it’s quite difficult to get. Second option is an online platform for room/apartments search i.e. WG-gesucht, Immobilienscout24, etc. I got my apartment through WG-gesucht, so I can recommend it.
Name: Anastasiya Matyushkina
Contact details: Anastasiya.firstname.lastname@example.org
Country of origin: Russia
Languages: Russian, English
Department: Spatial Planning
Hobbies: Painting, travelling, taking care of my plants, longboarding
Why TU Dortmund University? It is not commonly known but TU Dortmund Universiry has the largest School of Spatial Planning in Europe. The faculty is very international and involved in different projects across the world: Europe, Asia, Middle East and America. Here I have a position in an international project that received finding through the EU grant Horizon2020. Germany is a welcoming country for PhD students with many research and grant opportunities.
Working at TU Dortmund University: What I really appreciate as an employee of TU Dortmund University is that the employees and PhD students can take German language courses at the university - for free. Also the university has a Doctorate Centre that organizes events and workshops to develop research and interpersonal skills, such as project management or public speaking. As a researcher it is also very important to me to have access to a rich online journal database and good library. Here I don’t have problems with accessing the academic articles I need.
Life in Dortmund: After living for a few years in the Netherlands, I was positively surprised with accommodation prices in Dortmund. It is very affordable to live here, even in comparison with other cities in NRW. It has some cool spots where I like going: art studios in the harbour, hipster concept shops in the district "Kreuzviertel", or open swimming pools and parks in different parts of the city. The transport system is very convenient and as an enrolled PhD student you can travel for free in the entire NRW region.
German culture: As a Russian, I found many similarities between our cultures. I cannot say that something strikes me as odd here. Of course, it takes a while to get used to some small things, like for instance, I didn’t expect that after my public presentation people would knock on the table, instead of clapping. Another one: I was quite surprised to see that the majority of rented apartments do not have an installed kitchen.
Tips for international students: If you struggle, I would advise you to not be on your own, especially when you’re relocating and going through a lot of administrative tasks. If you have questions or need help, you should always ask your colleagues or the International Office. You will certainly get help or be provided with necessary information. I also recommend you to enroll in the German course as early as possible. It helped me not only to improve my language but also to find friends.
Name: Yumeng Wang
Contact details: email@example.com
Country of origin: China
Languages: Chinese, English, German
Department: Education, Psychology and Sociology
Hobbies: Playing table tennis
What was it like for you to work on your PhD at TU Dortmund University during the pandemic times?
Actually, it was not bad to work on my PhD during the pandemic times. My research is education, which belongs to the social science field, so studying online did not bring too much inconveniences for me. However, I really lacked the authentic experience of studying in a European university. It is a pity I could not take part in non-video conferences in Germany and Europe. I had some problems when I first came here but my supervisor and the colleagues in my team were very attentive and offered all the necessary help.
What tips would you give to prospective international researchers who are thinking about doing their PhD at TU Dortmund University?
To begin with, open your mind and communicate more with your German and international colleagues. Good research ideas will appear during comprehensive communication. Furthermore, try to change your perspective of thinking to be more international rather than relying on the background knowledge of your home country all the time. It can help you form an international research habit. In addition, you’ d better make full use of the library system in TU Dortmund, which can provide you with a lot of useful German and English literature.
How was it for you to settle down in Dortmund?
Despite the difficult time, I still could finish all the necessary procedures for settling down. Asking German colleagues for help is definitely useful.