Felix: (Master)

Felix studied at the university from the beginning of his study life. In his bachelor’s degree, he studied packaging technology but for his Master’s degree, he decided to study paper technology. Now he is 25 years old and ready for his doctorate.

Hello Felix. Are you from Munich or from the surrounding area?

I am from the district of Regensburg, but now I live in Munich.

How long have you been studying at the university?

Since the winter semester 2014. I handed in my Master thesis a couple of weeks ago and I think that I can start my doctorate this summer semester.

How did you become aware to the Bachelor’s degree in packaging technology?

I had a girlfriend at the time who studied it and I thought it sounded very interesting, especially since it was geared towards my talents, which are more in the direction of chemistry. At the time, I had already thought about switching to paper technology but then discarded the thought.

So why did you finally switch to Paper Technology in your Master’s degree?

I was always more interested in fibers. In the bachelor’s, the whole plastics and adhesives thing was okay, but it never really caught my interest. Besides, I have to say that when you stand in front of a paper machine, it’s just admirable. When you consider the technology behind it, the many processes and engineering procedures, and the complexity under which the processes in such a machine interact, it’s fascinating. I find this very exciting and this is the theory I wanted to delve into. Switching was the best decision ever.

Did you like studying right from the start?

Yes, I really liked it from the beginning and I never really found it that difficult. But it took a bit of time to find people I could get along well with.

Should life fit into work or work into life?

Unfortunately, most of the time, life is about work. It should actually be balanced or at least have so much quality of life that you don’t have to think about work all the time or that life is determined by work. Work should fit into life.

What was your favourite subject at university?

Anything that was fiber-based. In my bachelor’s degree, I really liked all subjects with corrugated cardboard, cardboard or paper.

How do you organise yourself in your studies? What is difficult about it?

I go to every lesson, but I am not an extremely organised person. 

Was it difficult to settle into student life at the beginning of your studies? 

Since I was lucky enough to have my own apartment in my parent’s house during my school days, which I had to keep clean, it wasn’t a huge change for me to live alone. Settling into student life wasn’t really difficult for me, but of course it always takes time to find your people.

Are you socially committed at the university?

Yes, I have been on the executive board of the Aktivitas since the second semester. We organise events that bring the industry and the students closer in order to make contacts. The Aktivitas is like a student council for the study course paper and packaging technology. We also take care of the freshmen and the social life of the students. I have always been a member of clubs, for example, the fire brigade, the water rescue service, sports clubs or ministrants. So, I didn’t have to be persuaded to take part in the Aktivitas. Besides, the contacts you make here are worth their weight in gold.

Did you do a semester abroad? If so, where? What were your impressions? What did you take with you?

Yeah. I went to the US, to Wisconsin. I spent my 6th semester of my undergraduate degree there as recommended by the university. It’s a very different culture. I was in a very rural area and so I was able to experience the typical American country life. It is very interesting to see what their ideas of life are. Because everybody studies there, the level is not comparable to ours. They have homework and quizzes every day about a chapter that was read the night before, similar to our school.

Do you have many cooperations with companies?

I did all my final theses and the practical semester directly in or in cooperation with industrial companies. Because the industry is very small, everybody knows everybody. A lot of companies need students and the only way to do that is to get to know the students as early as possible and build a relationship with them. Sometimes the students are even asked directly by the companies, and this can only be done through networking.

Did you have a hard time with the Master being in English? Or was it perhaps an enrichment for you? How is it to study with so many international students?

At the beginning, it was a bit unusual. But because of my semester abroad and the fact that I have been speaking English regularly since I was a child, I am quite good at English. It is very exciting to study with international students as you have to look a little bit beyond your own nose. Of course, there are always points of friction but if you are open-minded, you get along well with each other. There are always about 25 percent Germans, and the rest are from abroad. Unfortunately, it happens that the Germans are in one group and the internationals in another. That just happens. But we try to do something together from time to time.

Where did you do your practical semester?

In Lower Saxony near Göttingen, at the Thimm company. They’re corrugated board manufacturers. I was in the packaging development department. The company was at one of our lectures and is one of the larger medium-sized companies in this field. I shared my apartment at the time with a fellow student who was doing his practical semester in the same company.

What does success mean to you?

For me, success means fulfilling the goals I have set for myself and being satisfied with myself. It’s not so much about money as it is about my own development.

What do you plan to do after your doctorate?

I would like to move towards technology, development and research.

What are your impressions about studying?

It’s quite a sensible structure and very practically oriented. The connection to practice is really good. Because of the small student numbers, everybody knows everybody. We have very relaxed professors who know you personally and no question is too dumb.

What is the biggest difference to school?

At the university of applied sciences, you have a kind of school system. You have a fixed curriculum, but there is no compulsory attendance. I definitely think studying at university is better than going to school.

Winter semester 2019/20

Interview by Anna-Sarah Charlotte Weigel (IVP)