Aleksei was looking for a programme that combined mathematics and programming

Aleksei Iupinov is part of the joint master's programme in Computer Simulations for Science and Engineering. He is originally from Moscow, Russia, and is now in his first year at TU Berlin.

What made you decide to start studying at TU Berlin?
I really couldn't choose my first-year university, and I knew that the curriculum of the first year is quite similar across all partner universities. So I didn't specify any preference for first-year studies, and I don't regret it. For my second year I will study at KTH, and that's the only preference I specified. I have been to Sweden several times on short trips, and I am simply charmed by the country. That was basically a strong enough reason for me. Besides, it might be fun to learn what kind of beast bioinformatics is.

How did you decide which programme to choose?
My first degree is in applied mathematics, and after graduation I worked as a software engineer, so I was just looking for joint programmes that involve mathematics and programming. I also applied to the programmes EMDC and NordSecMob.

What do you see as the greatest aspects of your programme?
The COSSE programme is about scientific computing and modelling, which involves physics, mathematics, and programming. I come from the software engineering field, and some of my fellow students have more hands-on experience with physics problems. So the sharing of experience is great and benefits everybody.

How do studies at TU Berlin differ from your previous experience?
In my Russian university, I didn't have the freedom to choose which courses I wanted to take—the programme was very fixed. This is a crucial difference in educational approaches. I also expected a much more advanced IT infrastructure at TU Berlin, and that's exactly what I've got. Browsing the library catalogue online, Wi-Fi everywhere on campus, remote access to lab computers—I didn't have this kind of environment at my first university.

What are your impressions of Berlin and Germany?
Berlin is very international. You are supposed to know the German language if you are living in Germany, but in Berlin you might just manage without it. I’m always surprised by the number of Russian-speaking people here, too. Berlin has one-third the population compared to Moscow, my hometown in Russia. For some Germans it is apparently a very noisy capital city, but not for me. During a COSSE workshop this year we have gathered in Reichenschwand, a small town close to Erlangen. There I could enjoy the idyllic German countryside.

Do you have a place in the city that you really enjoy and spend time at?
Berlin as a whole feels very nice—it’s a green and vivid city. Sometimes I go to Tiergarten park, which is five minutes away from the university. The first week I arrived, I bought a bike. Now instead of 25 minutes on a subway train I can spend 25 minutes on a bike any day I want. From the Osloer Strasse it's almost a straight line to the university, and I never get bored with this simple route. So my bike is one of those "places."

Could you describe a regular day as a student at TU Berlin?
I have about two or three lectures per day. Sometimes I stay a bit longer after lectures or have a lunch with friends at one of the canteens. Each lecture has a two-hour time slot assigned to it but typically takes an hour and a half, so the breaks are usually half an hour long, which is good.

What do you want to do after you have received your degree?
I will definitely try looking for an industry job, but I am open to anything that comes my way. The programme certainly leads to many research possibilities.

Is there any advice you would like to give others who will live in Berlin and study at TU Berlin in the future?
As you will most likely be warned, finding affordable accommodation in Berlin is not easy. Start looking as soon as you learn that you are going to Berlin. Most accommodation websites are in German only, too. My COSSE friends stay at the student apartments called House of Nations. The same applies to the official matters: registration and getting a residence permit. I suggest you register for appointments online months in advance. And this is the only hard part, so otherwise, explore and have fun!

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Master's programme in Computer Simulations for Science and Engineering (COSSE)