Monday, November 9, 2020


Juan David Londoño Salazar was born in Peireia, Colombia, where he received his Bachelor's degree. The 36-year-old studies Information and Communication Systems at the TUHH  (Hamburg University of Technology) in combination with an MBA in Technology Management at the NIT Northern Institute of Technology Management. Since the beginning of his double degree, he has been living in an apartment in the NIT building on campus.

For us Juan David reports on what it is like to study at a German university and tells how he felt last summer semester under the corona restrictions:

 "As I write this line, almost two years at the TU Hamburg lies behind me. However, it feels as if much more time has already passed. Maybe this is due to the many new experiences I made during these months. Starting my Master studies in Hamburg was not an easy decision: I had to quit my job in Medellín and say goodbye to my family and friends. I did all this in the hope of a better education and new professional opportunities. It was hard, but definitely the right decision.

My first year in Germany was a challenge in many ways. On the one hand, the workload during my studies demanded a lot of me. I was only able to cope with everything with strict time management. On the other hand I had to find my way into a foreign culture with different customs and a completely new environment. The first two semesters had many ups and downs, I was homesick and worried whether I would manage everything. Especially the small things, like the quick changing weather in Hamburg, had a big influence on me, because I was used to tropical temperatures from Medellín. There are usually around 30 degrees; if it gets colder than 20 degrees, everyone puts on thick jackets. But I have long since overcome this first phase. The many new impressions, getting to know students from different backgrounds and the friendships that developed out of this helped me to feel more and more comfortable in Germany. I would never have guessed what lies ahead of us in 2020.

I remember reading the first news about the corona virus in January while attending one of my last courses in the winter semester. Even then the situation looked serious, but I never thought it would have such far-reaching consequences. It was only when social distancing and quarantine measures spread around the world and also arrived in Germany and here on campus that I realized that we are living in historic times. I live here on campus in a student apartment at the NIT. During the first days of the pandemic, it felt as if I lived in a ghost town. To see the campus, which is normally filled with students and university employees, so completely abandoned, felt strange and oppressive. Everyday routines were thrown off while increasing numbers of cases were announced. We international students were very concerned about the health of our families back home in our countries of origin. Fortunately, the students living in the NIT building are well connected and so we were able to support and comfort each other during these unusual times.

When the summer semester started and the courses and lectures were now all digital, I slowly arrived at the new normality. Even if online events are not as good as face-to-face events in my opinion, the TU Hamburg and the NIT made the best possible use of the situation. Everyone really adapted very well to the new conditions. The teaching continued to run virtually without disruption. It reassures me that Germany, compared to many other countries, is coping exceptionally well with this crisis. Even during the time when the virus was spreading particularly fast in this country, I felt safe and trusted the German health care system. In the beginning, the spread of the virus seemed to be under control in many Latin American countries, including Colombia, thanks to quarantine measures. Unfortunately, this impression has not been confirmed in recent months and the number of cases is rising rapidly again. It is not clear how things will develop there. This is bad for me.

I hope that this crisis will lead to us developing as a society. It would be great if we could use this global emergency to think about what kind of society we live in and what kind of world we want to leave to future generations. Only if we learn from this crisis will we have a promising future.

We thank Juan David very much for the insights into his everyday life during the summer semester.

Photo + text published in Spektrum Magazine 2/2020, Credit: TU Hamburg/Schulze
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