Thursday, March 16, 2017

Berlin

Today we arrived in Berlin after taking a two hour train ride through the rural Saxony and Brandenburg countryside. We met with the German Academic Exchange Service and UBA (German equivalent of the EPA).
Today we arrived in Berlin after taking a two hour train ride through the rural Saxony and Brandenburg countryside. Our hotel is in the western part of Berlin and near the Tiergarten (comparable to New York’s Central Park). Berlin has a very large train system that includes a city metro and commuter trains but called the U-Bahn or S-Bahn. After settling into the hotel we took the train to meet with the DAAD, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, or in English the German Academic Exchange Service, which is located in Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt square.


We met with two DAAD representatives to hear about study abroad, research, and internship opportunities in Germany. Germany is the third largest host for international students and offers scholarships to allow more students to be able to study abroad. We learned that programs can take place ant time from undergrad to postdoctoral research.


Next, a representative from the Umwelt Bundesamt (UBA), or German environmental protection agency talked to us about how it is tasked with implementing and enforcing environment protection regulations. The discussion focused on nanotechnology and its consequences for the environment. While nanotechnology promises to conserve raw materials and reduce volumes of harmful byproducts, the surface chemistry and chemical structure of nano materials can make them quite harmful if inhaled. With 90% of nano materials remaining in sewage sludge after wastewater treatment, nano materials can be easily introduced to the environment, where lung, renal, and liver damage has been documented through mouse toxicology studies. While the UBA recommends a federal database for nano materials, the representative concedes that when implementing new regulations "You have to negotiate and convince [companies] that it's important to have this regulatory system".

For the evening free time, students broke off into two groups and took in the sites and ate dinner. Outside of the Mongolia building was a Mongolian themed Berliner-Bear statue. The bear is the symbol of Berlin and different themed Berliner-Bear statues are all over the city.




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