The ViDSS Blog

A refreshing academic sojourn: My Circle U. research visit to Humboldt University Berlin

Embarking on a research visit through Circle U. is a unique opportunity that comes with minimal bureaucratic procedures. At the culmination of my four-year tenure as a university assistant and on the brink of completing my PhD, I found myself yearning for fresh inspiration and a conducive environment for writing. Humboldt University Berlin (HU-Berlin) emerged as the perfect choice, offering a fresh perspective and the much-needed space to finalise my doctoral work.

During my stay, I not only managed to finalise my thesis but also actively participated in numerous group activities at the Department of European Ethnology. This engagement was precisely the rejuvenation I needed, providing a balance between solitary academic pursuits and collaborative endeavours.

In fact, during my stay in Berlin, I had the unique opportunity to delve into studies that paralleled my own research. This led to collaborations with fellow PhD candidates, culminating in a creative project. We embarked on a collective reading of “Frankenstein Urbanism” by Federico Cugurullo. This exercise allowed us to reflect on our diverse case studies spanning cities like Vienna, Dubai, Berlin, Stockholm, and Mumbai. The synergy was palpable, and we decided to extend our collaboration. We’re now in the process of preparing a panel discussion for the upcoming 4S/EASST conference in Amsterdam. This newfound energy and approach to my research were invigorating, and I owe it to the work environment of HU-Berlin. The interactive nature of the faculty members and their approach to academic engagement was both refreshing and enlightening. The creative academic interactions I experienced in Berlin have equipped me with invaluable insights that I eagerly anticipate incorporating into my teaching back in Vienna.

One of the standout features of my visit was the department’s commitment to societal outreach and its active engagement with both local and international politics. The university’s proactive approach in offering students and staff opportunities to interact with a diverse range of scholars and communities in Berlin is truly commendable. The diversity within the faculty at HU-Berlin was awe-inspiring. The open and inclusive nature of the university is mirrored in the city itself. For someone like me, with a keen interest in urban studies at the nexus of science and technology, Berlin provided the ideal backdrop. The city’s vibrant tapestry of diverse cultures and academic pursuits was a constant source of inspiration.

I wholeheartedly encourage fellow researchers to seize the opportunity to visit other universities during their PhD journey. Engaging with various departments and universities not only broadens one’s academic horizons but also provides a richer understanding of diverse work cultures. As I acknowledged in my thesis, Circle U. played a pivotal role in rejuvenating my perspective on academia and reinvigorating my PhD journey. (29.08.2023, Pouya Sepehr)