PhD Student: Addie Kolybaba
Addie Kolybaba is originally from Canada and an LMU alumna. She obtained her PhD in Biology from LMU Munich and decided to remain in Germany after finishing her doctoral research. She now works as a New Product Developer for Reckitt Benckiser in Heidelberg.
We have asked her a few questions to better understand her motivation, the preparation process for doing research at LMU and her life in Munich.
Planning and Preparation
Why did you decide to do a PhD in Germany?
I wanted to have an international experience during my studies and it was recommended by a friend of mine from Germany to check out Masters and PhD programs.
Why did you choose LMU Munich?
I chose LMU for two reasons. First it is one of the top Universities in Germany and belongs to the 11 Elite Universities in Germany. Second, as I had completed my Bachelors with Honors the program that I did at the LMU allowed me to enter directly from my Bachelors into my PhD without a Masters. I had been accepted into a couple of Masters programs in Germany, some which also had accelerated Masters programs, but chose to start directly into my PhD.
How did you learn about research opportunities abroad and your PhD program at LMU?
Tons of internet research. It took a lot of time searching online to find programs that I was interested in and were also offered in English. Now it is much more common to have Masters and PhD programs in the life science fields to be offered only in English but when I started there were fewer programs in English available.
Life in Munich / in Germany
How is life as a researcher at LMU Munich?
Compared to the experience of friends who did their PhD in Canada life as a researcher at the LMU was very comfortable. In Germany as a PhD you are considered more an employee of the University rather than a student, which means you have a guaranteed salary as well as set holidays each year. There is also an amazing network of life science researchers at the LMU who are very willing to share expertise and ideas with you. This collaboration is strengthened by having Biology, Medicine, Pharmacy, Biochemistry, Chemistry, the IZB the MPI for Biochemistry and Neurosciences and a few other institutes all on the same campus.
What do you like doing in Munich / in Germany?
I love Munich. Living cost can be expensive but for the quality of life you get living here it is worth it! One of my favorite things to do in Munich is to go to the Isar river and grill with friends. It is perfect on a super hot summer day as the river is mountain spring water so it is cold enough to keep the drinks refreshingly chilled and is clear enough to swim in.
What has been – as you see it – your “most German” experience so far?
My “most German” experience but should really be classified as “most Bavarian” as the most common German stereotypes come from Bavaria (think strong man/women in lederhosen or dirndl drinking a 1L beer, eating sausage while playing a brass instrument). A friend of mine every year organizes an outing to the Viehscheid in Immenstadt. The Viehscheid is when the cows down from the mountain pastures for the winter. The cows are dressed very ornately in flowers and gigantic cow bells and are brought through the town before heading out to the farms. There is of course also a huge beer tent, with lots of food, 1L beers, a brass band playing traditional Bavarian and Schlager Music and of course people dressed in Tracht. This is a much more traditional experience than Oktoberfest!
Tips and Advice
What advice do you have for researchers who consider obtaining their doctorate at LMU / in Germany?
DO IT! The caliber of science at the LMU is amazing and you will have many opportunities to grow as a scientist. However, for me the experience of living abroad has taught me more than studying ever could. You get to meet tons of new people, have amazing once in a life time experiences and learn a new language.
How has your research experience at LMU Munich influenced your career outlook? What’s your experience looking for a job in Germany?
While studying at the LMU I had many opportunities to see what job options exist outside academia. In North America there is a lot of pressure to become a Professor after completing your PhD and it can feel like you are a failure if you decide that academia is not the career path you want to follow. I had the opportunity to attend career fairs, career seminars and talks from Alumni on campus that gives you a wide perspective on all different career paths you can take after you PhD. This was very eye opening to me and helped me have the confidence to take the step outside of academia after completing my doctorate. Had you asked me when I started my PhD if I would be working outside of academia and staying in Germany the answer would have been a resounding no, but here I am working for an international household consumer goods company in Germany and am loving it!