After one and a half years in Germany, Garima Singh noticed that there’s only one aspect in her chosen place of residence that’s erratic.
“I love that people actually stop, when the traffic lights are red – pedestrians as well as car drivers”, Garima Singh recounts. “In India it’s a bit different as people are more liberal in following the traffic rules.” After living one and a half years in Germany the PhD candidate noticed that many of the stereotypes about the country are in fact true. “Fortunately enough only the good ones”, she jokingly adds. “For example, I was not used to trams being on time.” To the young Indian researcher it, thus, seems sometimes like everything is planned one year in advance. Everything, except for one particular aspect. “At least the weather is unpredictable.” However, unlike the locals, who are quite often annoyed by this fact, Garima Singh thinks it’s great.
“Unpredictable weather is really new to me. In India if the sun is shining, it will shine. And if it’s raining, it will rain. There aren’t sudden changes like here.” Thus, one of the most important lessons that her country of choice has taught her is being prepared for everything. While sitting on a park bench close to a fountain at Albertplatz, one of the main intersections in Dresden, and enjoying a sunny day, a quick snatch into her handbag reveals an umbrella. “You never know, if you might need it,” Garima Singh explains. “I am so fascinated by this instability that I complain, if the weather remains the same for more than two days.” It seems, however, that her life starts to bear resemblance to her subject of study: multifunctional nanoparticles.
“In a certain sense one could say that I am trying to develop a very special kind of Swiss knife to detect and characterize tumors,” the doctoral candidate describes her research. “It is about creating ultra-small particles for different imaging methods. So just like the knife they have many tools and each of them is responsible for one special function – one tool to recognize the diseased cells, one for optical imaging and another one for nuclear imaging. We get more information about the cancer in this way. If the tumor is deep inside the body, nuclear imaging via positron emission tomography is the best solution. If it’s located superficially, optical imaging serves better. And it allows image guided surgery as well as fluorescence microscopy of tissue biopsies.” Just like herself, Singh’s imaging agents should be prepared for all eventualities.
Nevertheless, there was one weather condition that caught the young researcher by surprise: snow. “Last winter I experienced it for the first time in my entire life. It took me a while to adjust to it. Especially during these cold months you notice that life is much calmer in Germany.” When she felt a bit lonely during her first month in the Saxon capital, Garima Singh discovered Albertplatz. Since then, she comes regularly to relax and meet friends. “I like to be surrounded by many people. Maybe because it reminds me of my native country.” Compared to her home town Lucknow – a cultural and culinary hub in North India with approximately 2.7 million inhabitants – Dresden is rather small.
Still, in Singh’s opinion it has everything a great city needs: “It’s a perfect mixture of traditional and modern elements. It combines culture with innovative research. I can always find what I want – especially since I was so cordially received by the locals.”