When I thought about doing a Master’s degree, the image in my mind was to follow my dreams. I always had the ambition to learn more in detail about the physical world around me. It was the world of atoms and molecules which was quickening my pulse and whispering me: “Apply for a Master’s program on molecular simulations and spectroscopy”. That’s how I found out about the iMOS program. Then started the journey of applications.
The application to the iMOS program is very easy. One of the things that you may like is that in Germany, most of the universities do not require an English language test such as IELTS or TOEFL if your language of study was English in your Bachelor’s degree. The rest of the documents are mostly to be sure that you are applying for the program that you really want to study. You can find the whole set of required documents from the iMOS web page.
Now, I want to talk about my visa application process, because it can be very daunting for the applicants from non-EU countries. I am from Turkey and this was the first time for me to go abroad. So the whole process was very unfamiliar to me. There is a list of required documents which you can check from the embassy’s website for a national visa for educational purposes. For me the most time consuming part of the story was to get the proof of my financial resources. There are a number of ways to do it. You can present a scholarship award notification which makes everything easier. You can also get a guarantee, if someone with permanent residence in Germany is willing to take responsibility. This guarantee, called “Verpflichtungserklärung” in German, can be get by your guarantor. If you can get hold of one of these this would be a good option.
Another option is to open a blocked account which is what I used for my visa application. You need to make a security payment with an amount of one year of living expenses. This was a minimum of € 8,040 during my application for visa. But there is also € 50 fee billed for the registration of blocking account, so you need to transfer at least € 8,090 to the account. The procedure is different for each bank. In my case, I opened the account from Deutsche Bank. For the case of Deutsche Bank, you need to sign the application form in the presence of an embassy official. For this approval I got an appointment online and went to the embassy with my passport and admission letter. This approval cost €20. Afterwards, I posted the application form to the Hamburg branch of Deutsche Bank together with my admission letter from the university and a copy of my passport with express post. Unfortunately, it took more than a month for the post to reach because Deutsche Post was on a strike. In the following week I got an e-mail regarding the opening of my bank account. Then I delivered the required amount via a SWIFT.This also takes a few days. After the money transferred, I got a second e-mail proving the blocked amount.
And voilà! This is the document that you need to print out and give to the embassy for your visa application. If you survived until now nothing can stop you. In my case it took even longer than getting my visa. Including the time I spent to get the required documents, in total it took around two months to get the visa. So I recommend you to do everything as early as possible so that you can cheerfully buy the cheapest ticket without carrying the worry of not getting the visa until then.
The first place I came to was not Bochum. I went to Munich to visit a friend from university. Meanwhile I had the chance to have a smooth adaptation period to the German culture. It might sound funny but the first moment I saw a squirrel was very fascinating for me. It was the first time in my life that I was seeing a living squirrel. But it is a usual thing in here. Because in Germany they have a lot of oak trees. Oak tree is called “Eiche” in German, and a squirrel is called “Eichhörnchen”. I think, it is also a cuddly word to pronounce.
View from the top of Hoher Fricken facing Kloster Ettal
While in Munich I also went hiking in the Alps. We climbed the Hoher Fricken, a mountain in the Bavarian Prealps. There was a little fog in the morning but it faded and a sunny day encouraged us. We came across with a lot of nature lovers during our walk. There was even a woman who was hiking with her dog. I strongly recommend you to see the Alpine region. If you go to Munich, also keep in mind that on Sundays the entry fee to most of the museums is only € 1. During my time in Munich I also had chance to listen some seminars in the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried. The Max Planck Society is one the biggest societies in Germany in research. As a person interested in natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and/or the humanities you will be fascinated with this society and they are everywhere in Germany!
The orientation week was to start at the third week of October. Therefore, I bought my ticket to Bochum for the beginning of October so that I had enough time to settle. The cost of a room is generally € 260 per month. My room was without furniture but I found almost everything for free. If you are also considering renting a flat without furniture, it is not that hard to find cheap or free furniture, though it will take some time and effort. I enrolled to the university and applied for the residence permit in the first week of October. However, you can also do these in the orientation week, because there are volunteers helping you. But if you want to extent your residence permit yourself, I can explain briefly. You should first register at the city with your contract for your flat. Now with your approved address, you can apply for the activation of your Deutsche Bank account and discharge required amount for the visa extension fee, if you don’t have it in cash already. For the visa extension you need to get an appointment from the Foreign Citizens’ Office and go there with the required documents. When I was finished with those I was very eager to start the lectures.
19th of October, I met with the other iMOS students. It was Lisa who suggested this small meeting just before we were going to our first lecture. Now I am in my third week and it is fascinating to get more into spectroscopic techniques and molecular interactions. As a part of Dynamics and Simulation course we also make simulations using GROMACS package. For example, this week we calculated diffusivity of Argon in Argon for solid, liquid and gas phases looking at the change of mean squared displacement within time. Maybe it does not sound very fancy but when you know the basics, you can put on it! We also have courses on quantum mechanics, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics which are very supportive to understand the other courses in depth.
Now after my first month in Bochum, I can say that there is a lot to live here. I already feel like at home. Here the nature touches your soul. I regularly join the running group of the “Hochschulsport” of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and enjoy the beauty of Kemnader Lake and the forest. If you are interested there is also a Music and Arts Center in the university. Here, I am practicing piano. To take a little break I sometimes go the studios and work there with wood, paints, etching in brief almost anything you would like work with. You can work on your own or you can take courses. To be allowed to use these studios, you need to pay € 35 per semester but it includes the materials as well.
I am wondering what the future will bring, but now I feel like I am following my dreams.
About the Author
Özlem Yönder was born 1991 in Ankara and holds a BSc in Chemical Engineering from Middle East Technical University, Ankara. After her degree, she started a Master’s program there; however, after deciding she wants to learn in depth molecular simulation and characterization techniques she didn’t complete her MSc degree in engineering. Instead, she currently studies in Molecular Sciences with a Focus on Spectroscopy and Simulation (iMOS) program at Ruhr-Universität Bochum.