I am Maria Ussano, student of Automation Engineering at Politecnico of Milan, hosted at Technische Universität of Berlin from October 2022 till January 2023. I worked at the department of Smart Water Networks under the supervision of professor Andrea Cominola, who enabled me to work on a very peculiar dataset, with the aim of forecasting cities’ water demand from socio-demographic features. Although very interesting, the task had some difficulties that I mainly overcome with daily work in the departments offices, weekly meeting with the supervisor and suggestions by the members of the team.

The ide3a team was very helpful for eventual issues and requests, it was also very kind of them to set meeting to tour around the campus and let exchange students know each other. Finding an accommodation was the hardest part, but this was main due to Berlin’s estate market: However, if you are open to some tradeoffs, then you’ll manage to fill the accommodation costs with the scholarship. Winter life in Berlin surprise me for the amount of indoor activities Germans do: Sports, arts and social activities that I didn’t even know existed. Of course, the weather and the cold initially prevented me a bit from exploring around, but once you get used to it, your road is paved! What’s very nice of Berlin is that it offers some cheap services: metro season tickets and students card for museums, to name a few.

What really surprised me about the university, is that lecture rooms in the host university were rather small with respect to the ones I am used to in Italy, but I really appreciate the main library and its extended opening times. What maybe could be improved is the coordination with services offered to students: Because ide3a students are not actually enrolled to the university, students’ concessions were not available. Generally this was not a big deal, just maybe something easy to improve with some better coordination.

On the other side, the student association is very active and organizes events open to all students: Those events were mainly attended by international student, so I can say I actually know very few German people. I maybe was expecting them to be more friendly in groups, overall. My suggestion for next exchange students is definitely to organize your stay a bit more in advance, since it is a short term stay and don’t choose winter months for your stay, if  given the choice.