Summer Internship with DAAD — Rakesh Sridhar from IIT Madras

Wildcard Entry for: –  29th July 2012

Name of the intern: –  Rakesh Sridhar

Institute: –  IIT Madras

Organization interned with: –  DAAD

I did my internship at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany during the summer of 2011. It was an academic internship where I worked on a research project. Apart from the work, there were 7 things which made my internship truly special:

1.) DAAD: DAAD is the German Academic Exchange Service. It provides scholarships for doing a 3 month internship at a German University. If it was not for DAAD, I wouldn’t have gone to Germany and hence, its the first best thing to happen. Also, DAAD organized an all-scholars meet in Berlin which had all the 140 odd Indian scholars working in different parts of Germany to converge at the German capital for a weekend of fun, frolic and in my case “Wolf” (Yes! The game which we never stopped playing during the whole weekend). Since it’s an all-India affair, it ought to have Indian food and I did have my first Rotis in Deustchland.

2.) Karlsruhe: I never knew that there was a city with that name before applying there. So, it’s understandable if you don’t recognise the name. For the ignorant ones, Karlsruhe is a university town – which means the town is developed around an ancient university. It’s the home of Karl Benz, the inventor of automobiles and Karl Drais, the inventor of the two-wheeler (don’t ask me why all of them have “Karl” as their fist name!).

3.) My guide: When you do a Eurotrip along with a research intern, its very challenging to balance the two. If you end up having a strict guide, you can probably forget crossing your university’s compound! But my guide was a stark contrast. Usually, when we apply for internships, some professors reply while some don’t. My professor called me from Germany! That was my first ISD call and I was tensed. Instead of interviewing me, he advised me to ask DAAD for more cash because he felt visiting a museum would cost more! And once I landed there, he told me to have good cultural exchanges and advised me to go on the Student Union’s trips! And the best part was the send-off. I went to the lab on the last day of my office to bid goodbye to him. I was told by his Secretary that he was in the US then! With a heavy heart, I packed up. Luckily enough, he was in my Skype chat. I sent him a message saying, “I’m leaving.” He replied saying he too felt bad that he couldn’t be there but appreciated me for doing good work.

4.) People: Though most of the DAAD scholars made groups of 10+ and went around Europe, I was a never a part of such big groups. Though it is very safe as a group, you miss out on the fun of meeting and mingling with people from diverse backgrounds. And it did work for me. I met and travelled with people from all of the following countries: France, Iraq, Srilanka, USA, Romania, Turkey, Greece, Chile, Columbia, Nepal, Mexico, Tunisia, Russia, China, England, Australia, Poland, Lebanon and a lot more! It’s a great experience to meet and discuss things with people from such diverse backgrounds. From discussing about cars with a Frenchman to drinking beer with Germans to speaking about Saddam Hussain with an Iraqi to discussing biology with a US Professor to trekking with Polish construction workers, I did all sorts of crazy things!

5.) HaDiKo: HaDiKo is the student hostel I lived in. This is the closest you can get to an IIT hostel anywhere outside IIT. Complete with the ‘wing’ culture, it had everything in it similar to an IIT M hostel. Infact it had more – A ‘working’ washing machine, a vacuum cleaner, a kitchen, and a BAR! Yes, every hostel has a bar! So, it was hardly any problem for me to acclimatize to the new home. It was very easy to strike a chord with my floor mates and I made some forever-friends there. My floor had 15 inmates from about 8 countries which gives you an idea of the cultural exchange. We drank beer, we played cards, we discussed Bollywood, we cooked and we did a lot more together. It was fun!

6.) Eurail Pass: Eurail pass is a train pass which allows you to travel in most of the European trains at a minimum cost. I bought a 8 day, 5 countries, second class pass. Though I paid for second class, the Dutch man at the Amsterdam counter had a strange way to mark that in the pass. He underlined 1 instead of striking that! And the consequence – Every ticket checker in every train I travelled in, requested me to move to the first class coaches! And you get free food sometimes in the first class coaches. So, I travelled all over Europe in first class comfort!

7.) Adventures: This is my favourite part. It’s a bare minimum to travel to at least 10 countries if you are a DAAD scholar. And hence, most of us did see so many countries. But, my Eurotrip stands apart mainly because of the kind of adventures I ventured into:

  • Skydiving: Jumped out of a plane from about 2500m above ground! I never dreamt of it because I never thought I would get a chance to do it. But, I did it in Germany.
  • BMW ride to Black Forest: Though it may seem so easy to say, “What’s the big deal in renting a motorcycle to go around?”, consider this. I was just 19. I didn’t have any idea about the region, the language, the road rules, etc. And to add more complexity, I was riding a 260kg 1200cc bike without any riding gear. As though all this is not enough, there was my personal aim of doing 200kmph on a motorcycle before I turned 20.
  • Nurburgring: We rented a Peugeot and went to the NRing race track. They have an option for tourists to drive a car around the Nordschleife which is quoted as the world’s most dangerous race track by many a magazine! With lightning fast Porsches racing alongside us, those 20 minutes on the track were as scary as anything ever can be!
  • Black Forest trek: A week before leaving, we went on a trek to the Black Forest. It was quite an experience going through the dense forests which reminded me of the movie “Anaconda”. Nevertheless, those 15kms were a lot of fun.
  • Ducati: Though I rode just an entry level Ducati, it was a great feeling to ride something as exotic as a Ducati.

It was a very special way to end my Eurotrip and the internship!

Was this interesting? If yes, please like the post on Facebook (below) and help Rakesh become winner of the week and win the prize (Rs. 1,000/-) that he truly deserves!


One thought on “Summer Internship with DAAD — Rakesh Sridhar from IIT Madras

  • March 31, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    I would like to know how did you applied for the internship?
    what is the deadline for applying?
    and what was your project ?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *