30.07.2018 • Pilar
Last week, in my previous blog post, I wrote about my experience attending the first week of the Berlin Summer School in Social Sciences at Humboldt University. In this next post I will give you an idea of what the second week of the summer school was like. The program for the second week of the summer school was quite different from the first, I will explain here why.
Unlike the previous week, during the second week we were divided into four working groups. The topics of these groups were “external governance, interregionalism and domestic change”, “citizenship, migration, and identities”, “social struggle and globalization”, as well as “democracy at the crossroads”. These topics where chosen by the participants at the moment of applying for the summer school, and had to relate to the research project each participant was working on. As my PhD project is on the topic of migration, the group on “citizenship, migration, and identities” was perfect for me. There were sixteen participants in my group who were working on different subjects relating to migration. Each of the working groups had a moderator and each day of the second week started with a lecture. In my group, the lectures were given by researchers or professors, who were researching a specific topic on migration. After the lectures we were able to ask questions to the lecturers themselves. Participants then had the remainder of the day to present their projects.
One of the highlights of the week was being able to present my research project with the group. Participants had about 25 minutes to present their project, followed by comments or questions from a discussant, questions and comments made by the lecturer who gave a talk that day, then finally all participants were able to ask further questions. Although this made me a bit nervous at first, specially since I am at an early stage of the PhD and I hadn’t yet presented my project before, this session of the summer school turned out to be a great experience! The reason for this was that it not only gave me an opportunity to share my research with others, but I also learned a lot and gained many ideas during the questions and comments made by the other participants. Overall, this aspect of the week was really constructive!
The second week of the summer school also included some optional extra activities. My favorite activity, and also one of the things I most enjoyed during the summer school, was a tour. The interesting thing about this tour was that it was not a normal sightseeing tour around the city, but it was a tour given by a refugee, who showed us places in Berlin through the eyes of a refugee. As the summer school had several participants, we were divided into two groups, and had the tour with two different guides. The guide who gave the tour to my group was a refugee from Syria, and was extremely friendly and funny. During the tour, our guide told us his story, and why as well as how he came to Germany. A great thing about this tour is that we were also able to ask questions, which really helped us understand what a refugee himself went through. The tour lasted for about two hours and during the tour we learned not only about our guide’s story, but also facts regarding Syria, such as food and culture, and we also learned about some parts of Berlin that were important to him as a refugee. This tour was really an unforgettable learning experience for me! Another optional activity on the second week was a farewell party on the last day of the summer school, which gave us a chance to say goodbye to the participants before leaving, with music and drinks.
I can say I had an overall great experience at this summer school! I highly recommend it for PhD students in Social Sciences at any stage of their PhD. It’s a great opportunity to learn and discuss methodology, to meet lecturers, present your research, and exchange ideas with other PhD students from different nationalities and backgrounds.