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When my scholarship program first notified me that I would be able to spend a year, working in the RIKEN iTHEMS program, I was extremely happy for this great interdisciplinary and intercultural opportunity. Now, this year has ended and I will return to Germany to continue my research there and possibly at other locations in Europe.

I arrived at RIKEN iTHEMS on January 20. While I expected the year to be very exciting, I did not at all imagine what 2020 had in store for all of us. After my first talk in the math seminar, we went to an Izakaya and had a Nomikai there. From the current perspective, this appears quite unreal to me. The Covid-19 pandemic caused this year to be run quite different from any other year. We all had to get used to working from home, working online, and even enjoying each other’s company during online coffee as well as online parties. Despite these restrictions, I tremendously enjoyed my stay in Wako and in Japan in general.

Several aspects at iTHEMS contribute to a very friendly and positive atmosphere in the program. For instance, the coffee afternoons were a great way throughout my first couple of weeks to get to know many members of the workgroup. Also the all-hands coffee meetings on Friday are a great installment to stay in touch with each other. Furthermore, the dedicated math seminars were great for me to get new input, learn new mathematics, and chat with the colleagues. The organizers of the math seminar, but also all other chairs and the speakers, made the seminars very enjoyable events. Aside from these events, I was very happy to pursue my own research projects. As I am in the first phase of my postdoctoral career, this was a great opportunity to sharpen my research foci.

Thus, I would like to close by thanking everyone for making my stay at RIKEN iTHEMS as enjoyable as it was. Once the global situation has settled down, I would love to return for a short visit or even another extended research stay. Let’s stay in touch!