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From Hawaii to Hof, Germany – an american visit to the ibp

Veronica Cunitz, an American exchange student, has been a guest at the Institute for Circular Economy of Bio:Polymers (ibp) for the past 10 weeks. The 19-year-old is originally from Hawaii, but is studying at the University of Mississippi in Oxford (Mississippi, USA). In Hof she worked on projects together with Dr. Mirko Rennert and Benedikt Hiller. “Campuls-digital” spoke to her about her impressions.

A must for many when visiting Germany: Veronica Cunitz in front of Neuschwanstein Castle.
Image: private:

How did you come to Hof University and why did you decide to do the stay there? Was it your first stay in Germany?

“This was my first stay in Germany and actually my first time visiting Europe at all. I applied for this internship through the DAAD RISE Program, where students from the USA, Canada, the UK, and Ireland can apply to internships all over Germany and get paired with one. When looking through the vast array of potential internships, this project in Hof appealed to me because of the large amount of guidance and collaboration involved, as well as the promise to learn about a lot of instrumentation and analysis techniques I had never used before. Further, I wanted to get a different view of polymer science than I had seen before and try new things. ”

What was your first impression of Hof University?

“My first impression of Hof University was of a pretty, clean, welcoming campus with lots of interesting research and activities going on. All the people working and studying here were very kind and welcoming, adding to an overall friendly atmosphere.” 

What topics were you able to work on?

“I worked on biopolymer aging. The goal of the project was to create a detailed plan and manual for polymer aging that could be used in future research. To accomplish this goal, I was able to work with preliminary polymer aging studies and learn about instrumentation such as DSC, TGA, OIT, and mechanical testing, none of which I had ever had any exposure to before.”

How did you find the work and the cooperation with your colleagues?

“I found that everyone here was always very happy to help me with my questions and it was lovely to get to know a bit about everyone and their own interests and how they got to be here. I truly appreciated that my colleagues reached out to me and invited me to eat lunch and chat with them. My supervisors offered me a lot of guidance in my project and we were able to talk a lot about the goals of the project and they helped with the planning of the summer through various checkpoints.”

Were you also able to get to know Germany a little – what impressions do you take away from the country and its people?

“I travelled to a different city nearly every weekend that I was here, so I think I was able to see a lot of Germany beyond Hof, including cities such as Leipzig, Heidelberg, Bayreuth, Nürnberg, Bamberg, Ulm, Rothenberg ob der Tauber, and Munich. I think Germany is a wonderful place, with a rich culture, beautiful architecture, and kind people. I have felt very welcomed the entire time I’ve been here.”

What’s next for you personally?

“I am a rising senior, so after this next school year I will be graduating with my Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. I’m currently looking at graduate school opportunities to move onto earning my PhD. I’m not entirely certain what field I’d like to earn my PhD in at the moment, but am interested in the possibilities of Material Science, Chemical Engineering, and Polymer Science and Engineering.”

Thank you and good luck for all of your plans!

Rainer Krauß

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