Efstathia Katsigianni,
BMS Phase II Student, 
MSc HU Berlin, 
Qualifying Exam BMS,  
BSc University of Patras

I first read about BMS in 2012, when I was looking for a graduate program abroad during the last year of my undergraduate studies at the University of Patras in Greece. I had already spent two months learning German in Berlin and the possibility of finding a good program there sounded great.

Applying to BMS was straightforward and after a couple of months, I got invited to the BMS Days in February. There I got the opportunity to meet other applicants, listen to interesting talks and I took part in an interview with two professors. After the BMS Days, all applicants also had the chance to take part in the student conference and learn more about the current research in Berlin. After this great week, I was really excited to learn that BMS was offering me a scholarship to study in Berlin!

During Phase I, the structured graduate course, I decided to continue in the area of algebra. I was very lucky to be able to choose from a variety of courses that paved the way towards algebraic geometry, and once I started attending this course, something clicked. This is when I decided to go on and pursue a PhD in the area of algebraic or arithmetic geometry. I did my Master’s thesis at the HU Berlin in this area and later took the BMS Qualifying Exam. Everything went well and BMS offered me a scholarship for my Phase II studies and gave me the extra honor of awarding me the Hilda Geiringer Scholarship for 2015.

Thanks to BMS, I could stay in Berlin and pursue a doctoral degree in the area of arithmetic geometry. Apart from having the chance to work in a very stimulating, renowned and active working group, I also got the chance of traveling the world to attend conferences and workshops that really contributed to my work. I could not thank BMS enough for supporting all these trips, but also for funding my two month research stay in Japan. During the last year of my studies, I got in contact with a professor in Tokyo, who is a world expert in the area of my studies. I wondered if there was any chance I could get funding for visiting him for a while and BMS just replied: of course! They gave me a scholarship for two months that made surviving even in one of the most expensive cities in the world possible, and in this way I had one of the most interesting experiences so far in my life.

Studying mathematics in Berlin with BMS is a unique experience, with so many interesting offers, like taking courses in all three universities and taking part in the BMS Fridays, soft skill seminars and studying with world renowned professors. In 2015, I also served as student representative for BMS students. Together with four other students, we organized events and most importantly the BMS Student Conference of 2016. It was a great experience that I recommend to everyone and I learned a lot from it.

But life is much more than mathematics, isn’t it? That is what Berlin is most known for. It is a very international city, where you can learn a lot of different languages while riding the U-Bahn, where you have too many options for going out, going to the theater and concerts. For me, it is one of the best cities in Europe to live in right now, and I am happy I spent the last five years here. Of course coming here a lot of bureaucracy is to be expected and finding a flat is not that easy. But this is where BMS and its One-Stop Office come in. Through BMS and its wonderful community of people, I found good friends, could ask for advice about university matters and always had help when I had a question about life in Berlin.

Now that this journey is almost over, I feel that coming to Berlin was a great choice in every aspect. I studied some very interesting mathematics and found a second family. I will always be grateful to BMS for making all this possible.

 Published in August 2018