How is your experience at JNU Hostel
University of Cologne International
Photo: Julian Schmischke
Julian Schmischke is enrolled in a.r.t.e.s. Research Master. This offer from the a.r.t.e.s. funded by the Excellence Initiative Graduate School for the Humanites Cologne prepares academically particularly ambitious students at an early stage for an appropriate career. In the Research Master's program, Julian took advantage of the opportunity to stay abroad, for which the students can fall back on the faculty's international network. From April 1st to July 15th he conducted research at the partner university Jawaharlal Nehru Universitiy (JNU) in New Delhi
The a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne stands for a scientific education at the highest level. With its broad, interdisciplinary orientation, it would like to contribute to the understanding of knowledge processes in their entirety. As a graduate school for the entire Faculty of Philosophy, the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School numerous stations from master to postdoc.
All master's students at the Philosophical Faculty can apply to participate in the Research Master's program. The announcements are published in the summer semester.
Here Julian's international experience from New Delhi in the Research Master of the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne:
As part of my master's thesis, I deal with the field of international development cooperation. I am not asking myself whether development cooperation works or can work at all. Rather, I would like to better understand what effects it produces and how these effects arise. These effects do not arise just like that, but through the interplay of development policy strategies, the everyday practice of their implementation and the representation of these activities. My focus is therefore on experts and practitioners who work in this field. That is why I was looking for an organization as a “research field” in which I could accompany the employees in their everyday activities such as writing reports, drafting project proposals, attending workshops, etc.
In this context, India is an exciting research scenario for me, as "the greatest democracy in the world" has been shaped by development projects since its independence. In addition to the usual international organizations, a probably much larger number of Indian NGOs, private companies and of course the government itself also operate in this field, so that one can speak of a development sector with a clear conscience. For example, many graduates from the humanities and social sciences find their first job here.
Promotion | And where does the money come from?
I am in the privileged position of receiving funding from two pots for my stay in Delhi. I receive part of it from the Center for Modern Indian Studies (CMIS) at the University of Cologne. As a research master, I had the opportunity to receive a grant for this research trip from the funds of a.r.t.e.s. to apply, which fortunately also worked. So I can spend a total of three and a half months here in Delhi.
To be fair, it should be said that even at the beginning of my Masters I had the vague idea of doing some small field research "later" in India, although the topic was not at all clear at the time. This gave me a lot of time to find out what relationships I already have with India. And there was also a bit of luck, as two of my fellow students had just returned from a stay in Delhi, so that I could benefit from their experiences. A little lead should not be underestimated, especially when it comes to the financial aspect.
The JNU | A green oasis to get lost in
The campus of Jawaharlal-Nehru-University Delhi, JNU for short, is a wonderful retreat in the south of the hectic megacity of Delhi, which is characterized by traffic and air pollution. The area is very extensive and borders on the “Delhi Ridge”, the foothills of a wooded mountain ridge. The campus is dominated by trees rather than buildings, which ensures a pleasant climate, especially in the summer months. Some of the students I met here hardly leave the campus at all during this time because it is too hot for them outside. To get from A to B, many use a bike or motorcycle or the buses that are on campus.
"One of the professors also offered to meet me regularly during my stay."
The University of Cologne has continuously expanded its collaboration with the JNU in recent years. Most recently, for example, through the creation of the GSSC network on the subject of “Remapping the Global South” (here you can apply for scholarships). At the moment I'm only on campus occasionally, for example to use the library or to meet friends. One of the professors also offered to meet me regularly during my stay to help me classify my insights and to discuss my experiences. I find these supervision meetings with an “impartial” person to be extremely helpful.
Housing | Campus, gated community or paying guest?
Although it would have been possible to stay in one of the student hostels on the JNU campus (there is also a hostel especially for international students), I decided to move into the shared flat of a few friends from North India. I wanted to avoid finding the campus too cozy and not getting out there too often in the end. I was lucky here too, as a former roommate just got a job in Goa and moved out because of that.
Even here in Delhi I don't know very many student flat shares, but this is not uncommon among younger professionals. The apartments I have visited are often a bit more comfortable compared to the hostel rooms. However, the rent is also at the level of a Cologne flat share. Such offers can be found, for example, in corresponding Facebook groups. Indian students also often stay with families as paying guests with full board. Here, however, it can happen that you catch a few Indian parents who have a strong interest in being home early in the evening.
Transport | Metro, rickshaws and flip-flops
As I live in a neighborhood in the north of Delhi, it takes me a good hour to get to the JNU, which is on the other side of the city center. With the Delhi Metro, this trip is very manageable compared to city traffic, as you avoid the guaranteed traffic jam. Highly recommend tucking in a scarf as the air conditioning often surprises. The JNU does not (yet) have its own metro station, so you can hop into a rickshaw for a few more minutes from the Hauz Khas stop. Delhi's Rikshaw Wallas are reluctant to use their taximeters, so you can practice your negotiating skills right away.
As expected, there are more than enough opportunities to distract yourself from field research in Delhi. I love slackline, for example, and through the littleblackbookdelhi site I found a group that meets regularly on Sundays in Hauz Khas's District Park and is happy to welcome newcomers. Eating out can also be very enjoyable. Every third person I meet here feels like a “foodie”, runs their own food blog and is well informed about where the best Momos are, where a new restaurant has just opened and when the next food walk through the old town will take place.
It can happen that two or even three localities are visited in one evening: first at happy hour because of the cheap beer, then on a kebab roll to one of the markets and then a real dinner in the new South Indian restaurant. But I often just meet for a chai at Connaught Place in the city center to let the many impressions of the day take effect.
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