On account of the International Day, Chennai36 interviewed Adam, an exchange student from Germany. He talks about his cultural and social experiences in insti and India so far. He is undertaking courses in the Department of Management Studies and shares his views about our campus and his plans during his stay here.

How has India been so far?

Great! It’s been wonderful. I definitely wanted to do an exchange semester. I was considering either India or Canada, and am happy I chose India. Seems like a great choice because it is very different from Germany, and that is something I wanted. I got to travel and see a lot of places. So diverse! The food is very different as well!

Do you think your perception of India and Indians changed after coming here?

I don’t think anything much has changed. I didn’t have any stereotypes of Indians or India when I stepped in. I had heard that the people can be really nice and they were! Another funny thing is if we were in a queue to get something, it would be polite to stand in a queue and wait your turn in Germany. However, here, in India, everybody just goes for it and say, “I want this!” and “I want that!”. General chaos results and it seemed strange to me.    

What prompted you to choose India, and IIT Madras specifically?

I definitely wanted something exotic. I love travelling around Asia. I’ve been to China and Tajikistan before and wanted to come to India. The thing about IIT Madras which first appealed to me was the campus, which is just brilliant! We had a guest lecture at our University by Prof. Kamalanabhan and she showed us the campus with all its beautiful animals, trees and a campus life which we didn’t have in Germany. Back there, if it is a big city, the campus is spread around the city. There are a few buildings here and few there. It’s not a closed campus. My University is in a smaller town. We have a smaller campus with one building complex. As a result, we don’t live on the campus and so don’t have all these free time activities that are prevalent here.

How has Indian cuisine been? Was it a major change for you, given our liberal usage of spices in the food we eat?

I must say, the first week was very hard! Everything was really very spicy and I couldn’t enjoy the food. But gradually, I got used to it. Soon it started getting better and now I feel like I can eat like any other Indian! Even among Germans, I was sensitive to spicy food and now when I go back to Germany, I’ll be like, I can eat everything! For the first month, I had a mess card for Nilgiri mess. Later, I decided to get mess coupons so that I could go to any mess. It’s slightly more expensive but better as I can try all the messes and also go out and eat at local eateries. I am only here for four months and I want to take in as much as possible.

So have you done some travelling? Been in and around Chennai?

Yeah! I did quite some travelling. In Chennai, I’d been to Elliot’s Beach the other day. I’ve also been to Marina Beach and the lighthouse. The crocodile park, Fort St. George and the Mylapore temple were some other places I have visited. Usually, on the weekends, I go outside of Chennai. I went to Mahabalipuram twice. I’ve also been to Kovalam, Madurai, Pondicherry and Kerala.

What do you think is one major difference between how our institute is being run and the way things are being done in Germany?

I guess one major difference would be that everyone lives on the campus here. Pretty much everything is done on campus and it is like a gated community. I don’t get to see the city Chennai a lot. I thought I was going to Chennai, but no; I am in IIT Madras!

Do you think there is a different approach to academics in Europe, more specifically Germany, compared to how you see it be in India?

I think that in India, everything is a bit more competitive, given the vast population and limited resources. In Germany, it is, in some sense, too easy. Everybody has access to school and college. People don’t usually try as hard as they do here, in India. I also felt that the people here are really eager to learn and make the most of their opportunities.

What coursework have you taken on, here, this semester?

I have taken a Strategies of Professional Growth course and also a cross-cultural understanding course. The professors have a lot of experience and can give us great insight into innovation and lateral thinking. I am in the department of management studies. I also tried a data and analytics course but had to drop it. I was missing some fundamentals required for it and found it hard to keep up. I am into sports management and have also taken a marketing course here. There are a lot of jobs in sports management back in Germany! I am also learning Silambam, a martial art form.

So what are your plans for the next few months that you are here for?

I will be going to the Himalayas soon. That’s my big trip for the semester. Because, after this semester, I chose, regrettably, to tour Thailand, before getting back to business in Germany. As a result, I’m trying to do as much as possible in this semester. It’s 10-12 days trip I’ve planned in the North, starting in Delhi and then to Jaipur, Manali and hopefully Ladakh. After this, it’s back to Germany and business once again.

To meet with and get to know more interesting students from around the world like Adam, attend the International Day on 31st October 2018. Join us in celebrating the amazing cultural blend, IIT Madras is and to immerse yourself in the cross-cultural beauty of the campus.

Author: Rohith(BT-ME ’21)

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