Young Researchers Abroad – Get Insights into how Students from Swiss Higher Education Institutions Manage their Indian Experience

Portrait Series – Nr. 3 & 4

Names: Mira Lorenz & Timon Heinis

Subject of Studies and Home University Mira: Food Science with Focus on Food Processing, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Subject of Studies and Home University Timon: Mechanical Engineering, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Place of Work in India: Bühler India Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore

Subject of Research: ‘New Processing Solution Analysis for Indian Rice Flakes.’ & ‘Development of a New Rice Flaking Technology in India.’

Mira Lorenz and Timon Heinis are two young researchers from ETHZ who both decided to travel to India in order to complete their Master theses in collaboration with Bühler India. As their research period exactly overlapped, they shared together an apartment on the outskirts of the 8-million city of Bangalore from February till June 2014.

Since Bühler India was already affiliated with ETH Zurich through the World Food System Center, Mira and Timon gladly took advantage of this existing research collaboration and were pleased to be asked to contribute by doing their master thesises in the field of food processing technologies. Mira and Timon both already did parts of their studies abroad: Mira spent an Erasmus semester in Paris at AgroParisTech and Timon went to Barcelona with UNITECH. But Timon clearly explained, ‘I wanted to gain some work experience in an environment which differs from the standard office environment in Switzerland or Europe in general.’ The untypical set-up of the master thesis aroused his interest and he added, ‘I wanted to challenge myself with an extraordinary cultural experience.’

Mira (left) and Timon (centre) in Bangalore

Mira (left) and Timon (centre) in Bangalore

And even though they were mostly absorbed by doing their research and a structured daily rhythm on week days, they also had the pleasure to enjoy a glimpse behind the scenes of a purely technological environment. ‘The organization of our stay was really good, and the people very nice. We always felt welcome and met many new people, also to go out with and join the city’s vibrant nightlife,’ Mira added. Only getting from place A to B turned out to be a bit tedious as they were living away from the city center. And workwise they both needed to learn to adjust their expectations and overcome some cultural differences. Indian would have the habit of never saying ‘no’ so everything could happen. ‘Make the best out of what you can get,’ Mira said. ‘To organize equipment from external suppliers, for example, was challenging and exhausting because of a gap between our expectations and how it was delivered at the end of the day,’ Timon said and concluded, ‘you develop improvisation skills and patience but the personal satisfaction after having something done was great!’

Interviewed and edited by Kathrin Honegger, Academic Relations & Projects, swissnex India.

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