Stijn Janssen, master's student of physics, Radboud University. Grant student of the NIP for his research at the Ioffe institute
Working in one of Russia's largest research institutions, which has just celebrated its centenary, was simply fantastic!
'After working in a research group with a considerable number of people from a Russian background, including my supervisor, for eight months I couldn't wait to do two months of my master's research in Saint Petersburg! I am very happy that I was able to do my experiments at the Ioffe Institute in the Alexandra Kalashnikova lab. Working in one of Russia's largest research institutions, which has just celebrated its centenary, was simply fantastic! The place breathes history, which is a very beautiful experience. Professors over eighty years old who are still very productive, office temperatures between 15 and 30 degrees, and the typical Russian bureaucracy are just some of the things that you will not find in the Netherlands. Because of those experiences I have enjoyed working at the Ioffe Institute.
Apart from the fact that it was very nice and useful to work with the techniques in which they specialize, I had a great time at the institute. I have learned a lot in the area of experimentation, and we made great progress in the project that I was involved with.
Additionally, working with an all-Russian group was very special. Conversations about Russian politics, Europe or simply about something like music were very valuable. It was a very special experience to get to know these people so well.
Nevertheless, not everything went so smoothly. For example, for bureaucratic reasons, I was unable to enter the institution for one day halfway through my internship. I had to be accompanied daily at the entrance and was not allowed to enter the institute independently. So when something went wrong with my access-papers, nothing could be done. But in the end this is of course all part of what makes the experience complete.
In two months I have started to love Saint Petersburg a lot, I think it is the most beautiful and exceptional city that I have ever visited. It is difficult to put the character of the city into words, because it is so versatile and overwhelming. After two months I still did not see or discover all I wanted to. But maybe that's a good thing, because now I have a good reason to return soon.
Beautiful museums, great music performances, architecture and ambiance: I think everyone would fall in love with Saint Petersburg. Not to mention the friendly people! Something I didn't immediately associate with Russians was that behind every surly face was almost always a friendly and helpful person. As a music lover, I could eat my heart out, and every week I could be found in the Mariinksi theater, something I unfortunately have to miss back in the Netherlands.
I am very happy that I was able to visit the Ioffe Institute with the help of the NIP. Unfortunately, time has flown by and graduation is now a reality. But I will always remember the wonderful time I had in St Petersburg.'