Doctoral research stay: Jhinuk Sen
The chance to ‘Würzburg’ happened to me rather strangely and uneventfully. I had just about submitted seven copies of my approved PhD proposal to the school office at JNU and the secretary handed me two pieces of paper and said rather matter-of-factly – “You should apply.” As I tried to scan through to make some sense where/what she wanted me to do, she added, “Pin it on the board on your way out, will you?”
I applied. And the rest, as a terrible cliché is – history. In the very fist line I used Würzburg as a verb. And I did that simply because my three months there, as a part of the DAAD exchange programme to the Julius Maximilian University, was nothing less than one of the best things I did for myself. As I was rushing around getting tickets and visa in place, I also remember sitting in a restaurant called Zu Tish with a dear friend and trying to find Würzburg on Google Maps. It told me that it would take me 61 days to walk it. Academically, I wasn’t exactly sure what my POA would be once I got there and walked into Prof. Dr. Isabel Karremann’s office. I was in one of those moments in thesis-writing life when I did not know how I possibly would take the next step. Academically, and personally, walking into that office was the next step. What the University of Würzburg, Dr Karremann and the other wonderful students gave me – was the chance to open up my mind. I have always known that free and open discussions are the best way to share and find the best ideas, JNU has ingrained that into my DNA. In Würzburg I found my second school of thought. The opportunities I got at the university – the incredible library, a taste of student life in a huge university abroad, the seminars I got a chance to attend (one of them even headed by one of the professors from JNU), the absolutely incredible discussions I had with Dr Karremann and other PhD students, the free and easy mingling with other students from various other departments and of course the ease of life in a town like Würzburg as compared to the mad rush of Delhi. At least for the little while. And especially the realization that we never stop learning. Every person you meet has something to teach you. The university and the life there, for me, therefore became a verb. For three months, it became a way of being that has still not left me in many, many ways. And because, the very moment I came back to India, I requested Dr Karremann to be one of my thesis supervisors, and she kindly agreed, I know I have a lot of Würzburging left to do.