Jean-Philippe Labbé,
BMS Alumnus,
PhD completed in July 2013,
MSc UQAM

During my Bachelor in Université Laval (Québec city), I did two semesters abroad in Budapest and Moscow. There, I discovered a passion in learning high-level mathematics in a stimulating intercultural setting. During my Master in Université du Québec à Montréal, I decided to feed this passion again by applying to Berlin Mathematical School.

Although BMS was only a few years old when I applied, it was already well-structured and seriously committed in the quality of their work. The quality of this work was confirmed in 2012, when BMS continued being part of the German Excellence Initiative. Having a Master's degree from Québec, I could start at BMS directly at Phase II without passing a qualifying exam or Pré-Doc. Because of this, I could start my PhD project faster than in Québec and spend more time into research. During the BMS Days, I also learned about the available travel funding for students; during my PhD I travelled to Iceland, California, Japan, France and Germany to give talks in conferences from which I benefit from contacts with professors and students around the world. Moreover, I noticed how the interaction between students and professors is encouraged and is part of the daily life of a BMS Student. These bonds become important in more difficult moments of a PhD study; BMS students are not let alone.

Arriving in Berlin, the BMS office helped me in many aspects. Going through the necessary steps when changing continent and country of residence: registration, visa, the famous intercultural integration course, funding for German courses and many other things. Once we become acclimatized, BMS offers soft-skill seminars which come in handy at different stages of our studies, these range from time management to applying for jobs and passing by oral presentation skills. Moreover, all along our studies, BMS organizes summer schools, workshops and the BMS Friday, where we have the opportunity to hear internationally renowned professors and meet other fellow students. It is common to hear that one could spend all weekdays in seminars and colloquium so their numbers are great!

During my second year of Phase II, I was a BMS Student Representative. I was happy to see how the official instances take the opinion and concerns of the students seriously. BMS Students have an considerable voice in the school decisions. Besides, it is very pleasant to observe students improve the quality of the school with different projects and opportunities with the support of the BMS committees.

Finally, what more can I say except; Berlin is a vibrant city that leaves no one indifferent. Berlin is affordable, stimulating, an example of tolerance, rich of multiculturalism and history. Perfect to live and study! Don't forget to buy yourself a bike!

published in September 2013

Update 2014: Since October, Jean-Philippe is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Between July 2013 and June 2014, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at FU Berlin.