Profile of HIGRADE participants
I had first learned about the UFZ while doing my M.Sc.in Landscape Ecology and Nature Conservation at the University of Greifswald.
I'm officially a doctoral candidate with the DBFZ (Deutsches Biomasseforschungszentrum), but the project I'm involved with was conceived out of the UFZ and therefore is considered a strong collaboration between the DBFZ and UFZ. When I was applying for PhD positions, this particular project having to do with a renewable energy system, soils and life cycle assessment interested me the most and was really the only project I wanted to sink my teeth into and could see myself committing to for years. So I really hoped I'd get the opportunity to be a part of it and fortunately I now am!
I absolutely love Leipzig, it's made for me. In many ways it reminds me a lot of another city I like a lot, which is Montréal. I like the music scene here, the variety of cultural activities and just general things to do as well as nature close by, all in a relatively small and accessible (to me) city. People are friendlier here than I expected as well. Unfortunately I don't always have a lot of time to enjoy it as much as I'd like to, but I try.
I think there's a lot of great programs and courses available for doctoral researchers at HIGRADE, and I love how international it is. I tried to take as many courses as I had time for at the beginning to take advantage of that.
I think for those coming from abroad, take advantage of practising German with your colleagues if possible, and force yourself to speak it, even if you make a lot of mistakes (as I do!). People will appreciate it, and you'll improve. And even if you don't decide to stay in Germany in the end, learning another language is never a waste of time ;)
Yoga, hiking, reading, cooking