Sandra caught her passion for mining from her grandfather.
Sandra listens with interest to an explanation of ore processing.
In her free time, she explores the sights of her new home.
An excursion to the Mines of Rammelsberg: mining history made tangible

Sandra from Lima

is studying Mining Engineering (M.Sc.)

The bundle of energy

Anyone who thinks there’s nothing romantic about universities of technology will surely be convinced otherwise by this story. Sandra Pamela Suarez-Lopez is Peruvian. In Lima, she studied mining engineering at PUPC, the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. While there, she heard of the opportunity to spend a semester abroad at TU Clausthal, and so it was that Sandra first came to Germany. She still remembers her professor being quite convinced that the mining engineering degree program, taught in English, could be managed without any knowledge of German at all. But while that assumption held true for lectures and seminars, it was revealed to be flawed when it came to day-to-day life. As soon as she landed in Berlin, ordering something to eat proved challenging. From that moment on, one thing was clear to this exchange student: She definitely wanted to learn the foreign language.

A care-free start with a study buddy

She had help with that at TU Clausthal, not only from seminars but above all from her study buddy – a personal contact arranged to make it easier for international students find their feet in the first few weeks. Thanks to her study buddy, Sandra had no problems finding friends. In that first year, she already grew to love the countryside of the Harz. “Everything is so full in Lima,” she explains, “we have more than 8 million inhabitants. Before you can escape into natural surroundings there, you have to drive for quite some time.” So when that one year abroad came to an end, she was adamant: She would be back. But she did not fly to Peru alone. Her boyfriend, whom she had met at Clausthal, went with her. One year later, her bachelor’s degree under her belt, the two of them were back in the Harz. Sandra Pamela Suarez-Lopez is now in the third semester of her master’s program, has a student-assistant job at the Institute of Mining, and has come to know and appreciate even more advantages of the university and the town of Clausthal-Zellerfeld. She has praise, for example, for the security and the police system. “Compared to where I come from, people really care here. When I lost my purse one time, with my wallet inside, everything was handed in at the police station. And the officers would only release it to me in person. My room-mate wasn’t allowed to pick it up,” she reports, still amazed.

A degree program focused on real-work application

But those are not the only difference between Clausthal and her hometown. Comparing the degree programs, she is struck by the former’s strong focus on real-work application. Particularly in the field of mining, the university works hand in hand with the industry. Numerous lectures are supported by guest lecturers from businesses. Over and above this, Sandra especially likes supplementary arrangements like conferences and workshops. In sum, she says, “I have the chance here to apply in practice the things that I learn in my studies,” and fondly recalls the most recent workshop on air-regulation technology in Switzerland. In her free time too, she is hooked on mining. She’s already looking forward to showing her family around the Rammelsberg mine and visitor center. That will be a chance to show them just what she finds so fascinating about her degree program. Sandra sees herself working in industry in future, but she doesn’t rule out the possibility of doing a doctorate. Where either of those futures would pan out, however, is still undecided. “I actually have to spend at least another three years in Germany,” she says. “It took so much energy to learn this language that it would be a shame to forget it all again.” Her German partner, whom she married in December, will be sure to dispel that worry in the longer term. If she does go back to Peru, she certainly won’t be alone...