Giulia Codenotti, 
BMS Phase II, 
MSc University of Pisa 

I first came to Berlin a bit by accident, without knowing about the Berlin Mathematical School: just after I started my Master degree in Pisa, I complained to a professor about the lack of discrete math in our program, and he shipped me to Berlin soon after (to shut me up, perhaps). So here I was, a newly arrived exchange student at the Freie Universität Berlin, and I soon noticed that some classes and some students had a mysterious label, “BMS”. I began to learn about the BMS gradually. First I found out that BMS courses were particularly convenient because they were automatically taught in English; many of the BMS students were also international students, and through them I started attending BMS Fridays and piecing together a picture of the BMS.

My first impression was of a strong feeling of community: the Phase I students attend classes in three universities of Berlin and yet always have a network of connections to rely on, other BMS students in the class, BMS staff who can help with bureaucracy, professors that one meets at the BMS events. The BMS lounge, where students can work or meet up, the social activities, such as parties, picnics, ice skating, all help create connections, both for math and for life. Another thing I loved about the BMS was how international it is. One of the greatest pleasures for me has been to share and compare cultures, traditions and especially cuisine from different places.

The city itself is full of young and international people; it’s cheap, it’s dynamic, and in general offers most what you could think of wanting, except maybe sunlight in the winter. I’ve met very different people who enjoy the city in vastly different ways, from music and parties, to political or social engagement, to sports, arts, and the list could go on. At the beginning the choices can be overwhelming, but soon enough everyone finds their special place in the city.

When I finished my Master degree, I was really excited to have the chance to join the BMS family for Phase II! In this past year-and-a-half, I’ve experienced more of what the BMS has to offer: workshops to help learn to navigate PhD life, the “What is...” seminars, where topics from all over the mathematical spectrum are introduced by and for students, wine and cheese parties, board games, but most importantly a welcoming and diverse mathematical community.

Published in the end of January 2018