Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology of the RWTH Aachen University

Journey over the Sky….. The beginning

skyIt was banal but pleasant morning when I and my roommate Abhay were sipping tea at our terrace when our ears were deafened by the sound of the roaring plane above our apartment which was about to land in the Patna Airport. It was a constant reminder to me that I haven’t travelled abroad. I said “Abhi tak nahi gaya hu yar” (I haven’t travelled abroad yet) and he assured me saying “you will definitely go”. Believe it or not, in the same week my eyes gleamed to see a notice at our college stating an opportunity to go to Germany for a funded research internship. I never wanted to slip this chance so I knuckled down and submitted all the documents the same day, required for screening and selection of the students. A week after, which almost felt like years of waiting, I received a mail from Hemant Wakode. My heart started pounding heavily in joy and ecstasy to see the invitation letter to Aachen.

Rathaus in city center of Aachen

Rathaus in city center of Aachen

I was informed that I had to work under Dr Klaus Baier and two other Indian students pursuing PhD, Hemant Wakode and Manish Kumar Sinha, would be guiding through the process and help me during my stay at Aachen. Next day I met Professor Ramakar Jha who explained the nitty-gritty of the project. I also flooded Hemant with questions about my preparations for journey to which he answered humbly and patiently. I also talked to Manish who was in India luckily at that time. He told me about the life in Aachen and the ground preparations required for the work. I really felt lucky that I was guided at each step and everything worked out smoothly for me. Past a week after my VISA interview, I got my VISA from a courier duly stamped.

Up until now the idea of going far away had just been a dream, but soon the day came when I had to leave for Aachen. I planned my journey from the nearest airport from my hometown Ambikapur i.e. Raipur to Mumbai and then Dusseldorf. My family accompanied me to airport to escort me for my first International Journey.

Sculpture near Elisenbrunnen

Sculpture near Elisenbrunnen

I can sense the feeling of accomplishment that my parents enjoyed vicariously to see me taking large strides towards shaping my career. A few hours later I was at Mumbai and after a night halt I boarded my flight to Dusseldorf. I had a short 1.5 hours halt at Paris- City of Love and Romance, which I plan to visit in days to come during my stay at Germany. In the waiting lounge I informed Hemant and my family that I reached Paris. Thanks to free Wi-Fi and whatsapp which helps us stay connected and never let you feel lost or alone. When I landed Dusseldorf I was still overflowing with excitement and happiness. I was looking around when suddenly someone tapped my shoulder from behind. Turning around I found Hemant and greeted him. Miles away from home and getting an acquaintance is a moment worth cherishing.

Model of Aachen Cathedral near Rathaus

Model of Aachen Cathedral near Rathaus

We travelled from German Railways (Fastest train I’ve ever boarded) to reach Aachen. It was plainly impressive. During the journey I learnt a few words of German that will prove handy. We had snacks and reached Newton Apartment which was my abode for a few days (Thanks to Manish). I woke up the next day and it was fine sunny morning. After I freshened up, I decided to walk down the lanes to explore the city. GPS is a real gift when it comes to exploring a new place. I went towards City Centre and amazed by the beauty of the city. Everything seemed to be in perfect order-Modern day Utopia.

Sculpture of Aachen Careful street cleaner

Sculpture of Aachen Careful street cleaner

Of the various things I liked the most is the Cleanliness of the city. Aachen has much to offer in respect of quality of life. The city has a flair and atmosphere of its own. In the evening I went to super market with Hemant. I was asking him about every product just like a 5 year old kid as I couldn’t find a single description other than German and thus he helped me out.
The other day I was happy to meet Dr.Klaus at the University .Now that I had started working on the project on “Interaction between Urbanization and Water Management” under Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, RWTH Aachen University, I feel like it’s the time to reskill myself and leverage my learning to this superior work place. I come to the university through public transport, enjoying the bus journey inside the city. I got in touch with a friend of mine, Sayan and we decided to walk to Vaals (Netherlands) and I felt like I am accompanied by a tourist guide. It was exciting to cross the border and enter another country without any restriction.

The stone where three countries meet

The stone where three countries meet

Border of Germany & Netherlands

Border of Germany & Netherlands

The basic difference between two countries which I noticed is that, they have painted pedestrian road grey in Germany and Red in Netherlands. We went to the Cathedral of Vaals and enjoyed the bustling activity of streets and square. One weekend I’ve been to Vaalserberg (Three Country Point), unique to see a place where 3 countries (Belgium, Germany & Netherlands) meet. Climbing a top of tower nearby, I was at the highest point in Netherlands mesmerized by the view from the point.

It’s just been a few days in Germany and this is not the end of Journey but the beginning. I extend my thanks to my parents, Prof Vivekanand Singh, Prof Ramakar Jha, Prof. Rafig Azzam, Dr. Klaus Baier for their support and giving me this wonderful opportunity. I am also grateful to Hemant & Manish for making my life easier at Aachen. Lot more to go…

To be continued…

Harshit Shukla
Civil Engineering Ph.D. Student, Clemson University. Clemson, South Carolina, USA Email: hshukla@clemson.edu See all posts from Harshit Shukla
  1. A story of self made guy. You continue to amaze as you hear from one pinnacle to another.it is heart warming to read your escapades ;). Waiting for more…

  2. Feeling ecstasy buddy…. & august to ur great job. It’s really praiseworthy. Dude i m sure this trip will turn ur life.. good luck mitre!

  3. Hi Harshit,
    Really it gives me a immense pleasure to know the lot many thing about your life at Germany through this blog. I m happy for u. u enjoyed it to its fullest and take full advantages of this opportunity what u have got.
    Also enjoy the mesmerizing environment of city of love and romance. definitely this page of life will bring new opportunities and feathers of success to your career. keep updating the new things. I am surprised after reading about the boundary stone of three countries. its awesome.

    ok, keep enjoying, be happy…..!!!

  4. Hello Nagpure Sir
    Thank you for always supporting me.

    Thankyou Abhishek sir and Deepak

  5. Great yaar congratulation for your this dream came true

  6. Great work in vector direction.continue n enjoy. All the best.

  7. Tripathi r neeraj

    My dear in whole of story I was missing. ….. By the way it’s beautiful n my best wishes for this great beginning ……

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