Who are you and what do you do at AAU Energy? Why did you go to India?
I finished my master’s degree in 2014 and my PhD in 2017, and I have been working at AAU Energy since. I have been working on a project on thermal energy storage which presented an opportunity for me to go to India to do research. I went to the Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur (IITJ) in Rajasthan for a month during March and April this year.
How was it arranged?
I previously worked with a colleague from India here at AAU, and since Indian universities are looking to cooperate and share knowledge with European universities, the opportunity for me to go to India arose.
Why did you choose to go?
I of course went to work and concentrate on the project, but I also wanted to experience India as more than just a tourist and to gain knowledge on diverse ways of working and conducting research.
What did you do in India?
I had a lot of time to focus on the project. It was interesting to see the differences in the way IITJ and AAU work, and it allowed me to gain new perspectives and see our old ways of doing things in a different light, which was beneficial. Furthermore, I had the opportunity of participating in Indian traditions such as the Holi Festival with an inside view together with my colleagues from the university.
How was it? Was it different from here?
There are many differences between India and Denmark. In India and at IITJ, they have a more hierarchical structure, where you would not communicate directly to e.g. The Head of Department. That has its pros and cons, but it is definitely a big difference. The same goes for the work culture. In Denmark, we work from 8-16 o’clock and maybe a little bit more, but in India, the scientists live on campus and work all the time, including at night and during the weekend, which was interesting to observe.
Which experiences, both scientific and personal, did you gain?
The best thing was being able to completely concentrate on the project. Here, meetings about different things tend to take time away from focused work, which was not the case in India, and work was done faster as a result of this.
I was also hoping to experience Indian culture. I had a couple of opportunities to do so, with the highlight being the four days I spent in Jodhpur as a tourist and particularly participating in the Holi Festival. The Director of the university invited us all to his house with the hierarchy being absent for the day.
What was the purpose and what did you gain in regards of cooperation?
The main purpose of my trip was sharing of knowledge and establishing joint research on this field. A part of the project includes creating a website for the computer code on thermal energy storage, and we have students working on this code as well. My colleague unfortunately did not have as much time to work with me as anticipated, and different logistic circumstances prevented our students from being able to present their work to each other as we had originally planned. But we are continuing our work and might be able to cooperate further in the future.
Would you recommend it to others?
I always recommend travelling and exploring the world. It is a great experience; you learn from it every time and it is interesting to come home and see your everyday life and work from a different perspective. It is important to consider what you hope to gain and to align your expectations with work partners beforehand, and if you do so, it is very beneficial both scientifically and personally.