I applied for a stipend from the DAAD, the “German Academic Exchange Service”, in November. They must have liked my application because they invited my to the “next round” in the former capital Bonn.
I got some LIDL train tickets on eBay for 70 Euros (thanks Mezzo), which were 55 as they were sold by LIDL. Flying wasn’t an option due to the airports, both Hamburg and Koeln-Bonn, being located outside the cities and would have brought travel overhead which takes time as well. I enjoyed my non-stop train trip and arrived in Bonn after almost 5 hours.
After a short stroll through the city, I went to my Hostel: Max Hostel in the old town. They seem to be rather new since they were obviously surprised that I arrived. The guy at the reception left a clueless but happy impression. That Hostel offers a kitchen with Pasta and coffee for free! Especially the latter is pretty important 😉 Though, I was not amused by the fact, that the showers were on the outer floor, where everybody is on his street shoes.
But the beds were pretty good and I slept nearly 11 hours.
Maybe that’s due to my long walking trip through Bonn. I got lost several times on my way to the museums but that wasn’t too bad as I could see Bonns living district with beautiful old houses.
If you are ever going to Bonn, don’t miss the “Haus der Geschichte”! An excellent Museum covering different aspects of German history.
Before I went to bed, I had a few big Schnitzel together with Beer^W “Koelsch”. Last time I had a Koelsch it reminded me of water rather than beer but this brand, “Boennsch” was quite good.
So I went to the Uni Club Bonn to have a talk to the selection committee. Other students were already waiting in front of the talking room. The amount of administrative overhead to select the ones who will receive the stiped is impressing. They do that selection talk thing the whole day, from 10:00 to 18:00, in 4 rooms in parallel.
But let’s get to the guts of that talking. I tried to prepare for that discussion with googling facts about it. I didn’t find much so I’m going to list the questions and the atmosphere. If you have questions left, feel free to drop me a line.
I was called to come into the room and I was pretty nervous. I haven’t been so nervous even right before exams. I was invited to have a seat in front of a table with ready-to-drink water. The committee sat in front of a separate table and they counted 7 people. The committee was introduced to my by one of them. She introduced each member: Four of them were professors from different places in Germany, one student who got the stipend a year ago and two DAAD executives. And then it already begun. The professor asked four or five questions at once:
- Why I was studying computer science
- Why I am interested in computer security
- Why I want to go to Dublin
- Why the DAAD should give the stipend to me and not to anybody else
I began saying that I hope to not forget any of these questions. The prof immediately said that he asked so many question at once so that I can talk for a long time…
So I told my story: I am interested in computer science since I was a child, I got in touch with security very early, blablabla. Of course I forgot a few points, e.g. why I wanted to go to Dublin and why *I* should be sponsored.
But my talking drifted into a nice dialogue. I told them about the situation on my home university, especially that our security staff has gone and they asked a couple of questions like whether the professorship is going to be replace or whether I was able to do a diploma thesis at my home university.
Other questions include
- Where do I see myself in 5 years
- Where do I see the best university for computer security
- What kind of experience I had in computer science and what my (university) projects were about
- What would I have studied if I wouldn’t have taken computer science
- Which news of the last week moved me
While the whole talking was in German, the student suddenly asked in English me why I needed so much time for my studies. We discussed like one minute or two after we switched to German again.
While I was pretty happy coming out of that room after 15 minutes, I think I didn’t perform very well. The more I think about it, the less I like my answers.I didn’t set any particular weights and gave unnecessary answers which are not of any interest.
The atmosphere, however, was okay. Everybody seemed interested and had a pile of paper in front. Nobody picked on a particular shortcoming and were high level in general.
So I missed to make a few points and while I think about my answers afterwards, I think I could have given smarter ones. But we’ll know more in about three weeks, because the DAAD executive said, that they’ll send a mail then.
I was about to go to the Arithmeum and the Haus der Geschichte but unfortunately they were closed on Mondays 🙁 So I went to have lunch and a beer before I went to the railway station to get home.