One week left..

11 weeks into my internship and I am writing my second post. Apologies for being so-so late but I realised halfway through that blogging possibly is not my favourite activity, but I will give another try and see how this is going to end.
It took me longer than I expected to give you some update but I will try my best to sum up what I have been up to. Now, that I have spent nearly three months in Germany I feel that I can give you a much personal reflection of my time than in my first weeks. Obviously, it would have been interesting to see how my sight has shaped over time, but I can tell that it is much better to live it than constantly try to reserve it over social media or a blog..well, not like I didn’t take any pictures.

So backing up..
In my previous post I talked a little about the DAAD Rise exchange program — the scholarship that brought me to Mainz, Germany — and my first impressions about the culture and Germany but particularly Mainz.

I am going to start this post with Mainz, and then I will talk about my research group and how my day goes in the laboratory.

Wikifacts!

  • Mainz is the capital of the Rheinland- Palatine state, and it is famous for being the birthplace to the inventor of the movable-type printing press, Johannes Gutenberg. Therefore, the city is full of museums and landmarks dedicated to JG.
  • The city itself stretches over one side of the river Rhine opposite to Wiesbaden and consists of different districts which are the result of the small villages that existed before the foundation of Mainz itself and causes that special atmosphere what makes this city simply amazing. Tons of old buildings, cafes, restaurants, wine yards and clubs that entertain all ages.
St. Stephan’s Church — behind the apartment
  • One of my favourite things is the street name signs in this city. The background of the signs is either coloured blue or red depending on the orientation of the street. Blue means that the road is parallel to the Rhein and the red indicates that the street is perpendicular to the river. Even if you are lost, eventually, you can locate yourself to the river and find your way home.
Street name signs: The red background means that the street is perpendicular while the blue is parallel to the river Rhine.
  • Mainz is also famous for being one of the wine-producing regions of Germany and Riesling is one of their specialities. There is not a week without a wine festival and Germans are very proud of their wines. As one of my colleagues said as well..”if you want to start a good conversation with a German, you should ask about our wines..”

I fall in love with Mainz over this 11weeks I have lived here, and there is no one single bit I dislike. The city itself is friendly full of young people, and it has a special charm which combined with its location give you an unforgettable experience.

  • Mainzer Marktfrühstück or Market breakfast
    Mainz is famous for its Farmer Market which offers a wide variety of fruits, veggies, homemade culinary food and wines strictly from the German farmers and producers. On Saturday mornings the market is full with residents and tourists to have Market breakfast. This actually means a Mainzer sausage in a bun with a glass of wine or wineschorle (spritzer), what we Hungarians know as fröccs.

And now that I talked about the most important facts about Mainz I would like to introduce my host university and the group I am working with, AK Waldvogel.

Johannes Gutenberg University, University of Mainz

The JGU is one of the most diverse university in Germany with students from more than 130 different countries and compared to my university it is incredibly huge. Takes me at least 10 minutes to reach my building (that’s the time I cross my whole campus..) which is roughly located in the middle of the campus region. The research group I work for consist of at least 3o scientist, and we work in two separate buildings. I think the most important part of the day is lunch. The whole group meets up at 11:30 am sharp and go to the Menza together to enjoy the break and socialise. While back in England I was happy to enjoy my lunch alone and have a little me-time, here I pretty much had to come out of my comfort zone but got adapted quickly. Now I am hungry by 11 am, and it is very nice to see friendly faces and discuss every sort of things except chemistry.

A typical day at work looks as it follows:

  • start at 8 am
  • first screening/electrolysis reaction
  • lunch
  • daily group meeting
  • analysis
  • second screening/ electrolysis reaction
  • workup of the first reaction
  • discussion about next day
  • finish around 5 pm

Perks of being a chemist is you got to use fancy stuff that otherwise would not be possible..such as an automated purification system. Say goodbye to manual columns, dirty silica and never-ending TLCs (chemists now what I am talking about).

Purification step — AUTOMATED flash chromatography people!

..or having a fancy chemistry building allocating the majority of the research groups, a library, and separate laboratories for chemistry modules on different floors. I am truly impressed by the quality of the teaching and how well-equipped the science building is.

The ‘New’ Chemistry building which has a C shape. On the first pictures you can actually see the different labors on each floor for Organic Chem, Advances Organic Chem and Inorganic Chem.

Our group’s main work is based on electro-organic chemistry, but actually, we are expertised in the following topics: sensors for hazardous compounds, supramolecular chemistry, oxidative coupling and renewables.

My current project is solely based on cross-coupling reactions via electrolysis using BDD electrodes. I say current because since I have been here, my project changed at least four times depending on what we can achieve. The reason this project is interesting is that by enabling certain substances to form via an electrolytic pathway, a more sustainable and greener method can be used than in classical methods. It is more attractive for industry and better for our environment.

However, working in the AK Waldvogel is not just about chemistry it is about socialising as well. I am fortunate enough to say that our group is extremely supportive and I befriended amazing people who regularly enjoy out of work activities as well.

1. Eisgrub — The local brewery where we share a beer tower (5L), 2. AK Ausful — group trip, 3. Wiesbaden Wine Week

As my last week is just around a corner, I would say one more post will come about my remaining time here, one post about the places I have been to during this three months and a follow up as well describing what is it to get back to England and my plans for the future.

Thank you for reading my post and feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions or suggestions.