Gauss-Telegraph: 17 international people in Braunschweig – Damini
by Mingma Sherpa
- Which country/city are you from?
I’m from India. I came to Germany in November 2018 to do my PHD.
- Why did you come to Germany/Braunschweig?
I did not specifically choose Braunschweig, but I think it’s more like Braunschweig chose me. I didn’t even know the city. I had never heard of Braunschweig. I mean, usually when you think of Germany, you think of Cologne or Berlin. So, I didn’t even know where Braunschweig is.
- What do you prefer to do in your free time?
As a PhD student, you don’t get much free time to be honest. But I love travelling. So, I spent my free time traveling before the corona outbreak. I like to do sports, go for swimming and Kung-fu classes. Then I joined the Gauss team. Therefore, I like to be active in events organized by Gauss Friends. I like dancing too and I was participating in the salsa classes. But I also like to spend some time reading novels. Before starting my PhD, I was a gamer. When I started my PhD, I stopped gaming because that takes so much time. When gaming I used to have a team which depended on me. I needed to be active in the group and that takes time which I no longer had. I still enjoy going for walks, going for jogging in the sun.
- Did you face any difficulties living in Germany? If yes, what are those?
I hear often from a lot of people that they got a culture shock. It wasn’t like that for me. Maybe it depends on how open-minded you are. And I’m actually very open-minded and I had been familiarizing myself by reading about other cultures, watching documentaries and even Netflix etc. already. Doing the city registration, opening a bank account or getting a health insurance are the usual things that students face difficulty with. Thankfully, I was lucky to have very nice people in my PhD group who helped me through all that, so I didn’t face any difficulties in this regard. The only thing was adjusting from a big city’s life to Braunschweig’s life, occasional homesickness that would hit me out of nowhere and finding Indian food ingredients.
- Did you do voluntary work before?
I’ve always been an active person. I had done voluntary work by participating in the marathons for environmental or social causes etc. In India I used to contribute in voluntary work by participating in street plays, debates and speeches to spread awareness about social problems.
- How did you find out about Gauss-Haus?
I actually didn’t really know about Gauss Haus. I looked up and found the Gauss Buddy program. I enrolled for it, but after I arrived, it was too late. So, I didn’t really get a buddy. I eventually found out later.
- What activities did you take on at Gauss-Haus?
There was the Flash mob (dance) event that I found out through Gauss-Haus and I became part of the flash mob team. In the yearly Diwali Event, a play was organized. I played the role of the main Heroine, SITA – the Indian princess. Overall, I’ve been in almost all the events that the Gauss Friends organize. I try my best to be there on every Tuesday as well.
- Do you have any interesting story about your activity in Gauss-Haus? If so, please tell me briefly.
I think Santa Gauss was interesting. Because a lot of international students don’t get to go back home. I also didn’t go home. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I couldn’t travel to join my friends either and I felt I was going to be alone. But it was really nice to celebrate Christmas with Gauss Friends. I met a lot of people there, so it wasn’t a lonely Christmas like I thought it would be.
- What is your favorite event or activity at Gauss-Haus?
I actually love all of them. Great food and the cultural events are awesome. I get to dance, so it’s a good workout. I would like to share one of my favorite moments. It was my birthday and it was a Moroccan themed evening at Gauss-Haus. A live Moroccan music band was the special attraction that evening. They sang Happy Birthday to me. That was really mesmerizing.
- Did the Gauss-Haus help you to make new contacts?
I met the first Indian person in Germany at Gauss-Haus. It was already six months in Braunschweig, and I did not meet any Indian people. I thought maybe, no Indians live in Braunschweig. Through Gauss-Haus I made a lot of friends, not just Indians, but German, Mexican, Pakistani, Chinese, Finnish etc. I made a lot of friends in Gauss-Haus.
- Has there already been an event about your country at Gauss-Haus? If so, how did you like the evening?
Yes, but unfortunately, I missed it, because I was traveling.
- Would you recommend the Gauss-Haus to other international students?
Of course. I always motivate my friends to take part in Gauss-Haus events.
- What do you think are the strengths of the Gauss-Haus?
I would say the unity and the feeling of being part of a big family, regardless of your nationality. An important policy of Gauss-Haus is considering everybody, not just regarding nationality but even the lifestyle preferences such as veganism. So, everyone can feel equally welcome, not supporting racism and developing new ideas to help new students are the strengths of Gauss-Haus.