My name is Paola Acosta Carrascal and I am 27 years old. I come – by Colombian standards – from a “small town” called Cúcuta. Cúcuta is located in the northeast of Colombia and right near the border with Venezuela. In 2018, I moved to Germany to do my master’s degree. I came to Germany without any knowledge of the language, as my master’s was purely in English. But of course, that made everyday life much more difficult. I then lived in Stuttgart for a total of 3 years and then moved professionally to Hof to work here at the University of Applied Sciences
Since I was a child, it has always been my dream to do research and I felt that this was a great opportunity to realize my hopes and desires. When I finally got the job, I was super excited.
Working in the ReWaMem project
Since 02.11.2021 I am now working as a research assistant at the Institute for Water and Energy Management (iwe), specifically in the ReWaMem project with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Schmid. The project in brief: We are treating wastewater from laundries. The project is implemented together with 6 partners. A membrane for the treatment of the wastewater is designed, which will be put into operation later. Treatment with membranes produces a “concentrate” water, called “retentate”, in addition to the treated water. The treatment of this retentate is the real goal of the project and my work is focused exactly on this. The retentate is treated by cavitation, an advanced oxidation process, and then further developed with anaerobic digestion, a biological process.
Protecting water as a resource
My strongest motivation in this job is perhaps cliché but true: I want to protect water. I firmly believe that water is the most precious resource on earth and that even small acts can make big changes. I have a 9-year-old nephew and I believe that it is my duty to do my best to protect natural resources in order to ensure him a future worth living.
Making a good impression
Many people ask me about my impression of Germany and the Upper Franconia region. I have to say: So far, I really have a very positive impression of the region. To be honest, I had been a little worried about the dialect, thinking that the strongest dialects were in the south of Germany – but so far everything has been fine and I have no problems. When I went to register at the town hall in Hof, a funny thing happened: the official I went to see saw my passport and told me it was his first Colombian passport ever. I hope I’m not the first Colombian in Hof – but whether that’s the case or not, I’ll do my best to make a good impression! My colleagues have been super nice and open-minded to me and have been happy to see more international participation at the institute.
Fan of snow and ice
There are, of course, many differences between Germany and Colombia, starting with the weather or Sunday shopping. Colombia is in the tropics, so we don’t have seasons. Therefore, our weather depends almost solely on the altitude above sea level. This means that it can be as little as 10 ° C difference when you drive 30 minutes by car to a higher or lower place. But I LOVE the German winter! Many Germans can’t understand this, but I would love it if winter lasted even longer here.
Spontaneous is not the same as spontaneous
On the other hand, the biggest difference in mentality is probably in the area of what is called “being spontaneous”. In Colombia, it’s perfectly normal to meet up with friends without much notice or to make further plans along the way
Although we Colombians definitely plan things, we are also always open to changing plans and just doing something spontaneously and even without notice. It’s the “spontaneity of the situation.”Paola Acosta Carrascal
In Germany, however, this is exactly what happens very rarely and that’s why I find it so strange that Germans like to use the word “spontaneous” so much.
Showing your own culture
As a culturally open person, I think we can learn a lot from different people. Every day is a learning opportunity and everyone is different and a whole world of their own within themselves. Open-mindedness is always the best option to share not only academics but also culture and lifestyle. I am eagerly waiting to learn more about German culture. And I also want to show my Colombian culture during my time in Hof. With my work I would like to contribute to connect our countries.