The Two things that I learned-the-hard-way in ASTROMUNDUS!

On a fine September Day we finally met in the Institute – people from all over the world – LA, Taiwan, Egypt, Ethopia, Spain, Italy, Bangladesh, Mexico and different other places – who will be my classmates for the next two years and hopefully friends forever!

Exchanging smiles and a few words like Hi and Hello when the Innsbruck Faculty joined us and we started introducing ourselves to the group. That was when I got the shock of my life. We have in the group a guy who has taught undergraduate physics in his country (and I have just finished my physics undergraduate classes), one girl who has worked in NASA (I mean, seriously, NASA???), another guy who has done his Bachelors in Mathematics from Cambridge… One by one they started speaking and with each such introductions I wondered more and more why I am here! But who cares, when you are given more than you have wanted, people never complain! Problem comes only when we get less than deserved or well, less than expected!!

The ASTROMUNDUS First Batch Group!

I stayed , I learned!

I learned to cook edible food, I learned the luminosity-flux conversion (we did it every single semester) and other stuffs related to the sky we see and beyond, I learned to pack and unpack quickly and efficiently, I learned to write in Latex (and loved it so much that now I even write my diary in Latex) and I even tried to learn snow-skating! This list can be a separate blog altogether. But this one is basically about the two realizations that I had in the last two semesters and the lessons that I got!!


For the first semester in Innsbruck, we had four compulsory courses and a huge list of Optional Courses to choose from (so as to complete the required credit-limit). Browsing through all the papers that we can take as optional courses, I decided on taking the ‘Intro to Solar System’ course as it seemed easier (for I have read on this before) and I knew it will not take as much efforts from my side as some other courses like Particle Physics, Plasma Physics, Quantum Mechanics and Relativity will! Easy course, easy exam, easy marks – and just move on!! Happy with my choice, I roamed around talking to all the others when I met this new classmate of mine, the girl from Turkey – Cigdem, who said something regarding her choice and that something really striked me! She was taking Relativity as her Optional Choice!! She said she was interested in it! And her idea was that, if we do not learn these tough things in presence of these experienced professors, it does not make sense to sit later alone and try to make sense of the confusing mathematics and complicated physics of these papers! Well, I did not tell her that day that I was searching for the easiest (easiest for me) possible course, but I came back home really shocked on how stupid I was to do that!


This was one of the last days of our Roman Life. It was Pece’s birthday and we all (me, Chris, Remudin, Pece, Khan and Kamal) sat together at midnight to just chat and celebrate! There were many cans of beer and (fortunately for me) some packs of Apple Juice! Three hours went pass really nice – Kamal and Pece debating, betting and finally experimenting on ‘Probability of Dice-Throw Outcomes’, followed by a rather-serious fight that I had with Kamal on a stupid issue of my room keys, a 2am yummy potato-pepper-dish served by the brilliant cook in us – Mr Marvin and finally the hilarious attempts of Kamal to mimic all the people we have known till now in Astromundus !

By 3am, the quiet-till-now Khan finally went high and opened his mouth! And well, once the Khan-high-on-alcohol starts to speak, it is almost impossible for others to interrupt or intervene! So the moment our quiet-guy goes high, everyone else is forced to go quiet. And believe me, Khan does not speak on normal topics. The general trend is that, he either starts with Philosophy or if we are lucky enough, then on History! This time he started his unrelated-to-everything speech on how he likes Ambedkar much more than Gandhi! He went on – moving from Ambedkar to many other people that he likes or dislikes! A half sleepy me listened to him, while wondering if I knew even half of the things that he was talking about Ambedkar (and all the others)! I knew that Ambedkar has drafted our constitution and has always fought against untouchability and the caste-system of India, I knew that he was a great scholar and a noble man! But I did not know enough to ever put these many points in favour of him (or any other person) with so much of confidence and so much of passion as Khan did! Waking up next noon (slept at 6am, woke up at 11:30 almost) and remembering the night before, I realized that I have read books, I have read history – but still, I just don’t know sso many things that I would like to know!!


There have been many such events where I have learned things, many realizations that have changed my views and my choices!! Each person I have met has taught me some or the other thing! But these two episodes of my life were like two wake-up calls for me that I will never forget!!


About Panchi

Residing in the Solar System (Milky Way), lost in the beauty of Nature and the vastness of Universe, I am just another Earthling trying to make sense of life!
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23 Responses to The Two things that I learned-the-hard-way in ASTROMUNDUS!

  1. Yayyyyyyyyyy, I am so happy that someone learned something through me…
    That’s why I don’t care about all the false annotations about my drinking habits. Or, are they really true? I don’t know, need an independent third party experiment.

    All in all- Ambedkar was and is really great. I always prefer the people who leave religion to embrace philosophy.

  2. Panchi says:

    Yaayyyy 🙂 I am Glad that you are happy 🙂 And I will post it there when I am ready to add about this and the next semester too 🙂

  3. Cosmos says:

    Wow, what a nice experience to share

  4. i like wat ur classmate sed abt taking tough’s a brand new perspective of looking at things.. 🙂
    so often in our rush to just somehow get things done, we forget that wat really matters is the process (the where, the how, and most importantly, the why) than the final conclusion. 😛
    wish i had realised this in Stephen’s itself..but never mind…its never too late is it? 🙂
    good job! 🙂

  5. Panchi says:

    🙂 It is never too late Simi 🙂 Never too late!! Stephen’s taught me (us) many things too (much more than what I would have learned if I was completely into Physics) 🙂

  6. Vinita Abraham says:

    You learned some really good lessons here. Make good use of them too.

    About the Relativity story, it’s for the same reason I chose MicroEcon in my third year, when most people were looking for all the scoring optionals. I’m thanking God that I had the good sense to do that when I could. 🙂

    Also, about the Ambedkar story, it’s okay that you don’t know much about him or much about some other topic, as long as the topic is one that never interested you in the first place. But if it is something that you’re passionate about, I believe you’d automatically strive to learn everything about it, from scratch. You’d also find yourself talking about these issues to everyone else, like your friend did. So, if there really is something that interests you, even slightly, try to know more about it to a point where you don’t want to know more about it. 🙂

    Much love,

    • Panchi says:

      Ohh Vinita!! Yes I am making good use of the lessons! 🙂 Attending some extra optional classes just for the fun of it, though I need not give exams for them! Reading and doing interesting things that the lazy me would not have started with otherwise! 🙂

      Life is the best and the most motivating teacher of all!!

  7. Sabyasachi Ghosh says:

    The story about the Turkish girl made an impression on me and it helped me to step outside of my current situation! I am so glad that I read this blog post. This experience is such a gift. Thanks for sharing it.


  8. anna says:


    nice post and blog in general 🙂 I was wondering if it would be ok to email you with some questions about astromundus (I can’t find your email here, mine is annamaria3.141[ at ] I promise I won’t bother you too much 🙂

    Keep up the good work!

  9. Juan David says:

    Hi! I was searching information about Astromundus program and I found your blog by chance. It is very entertaining to read. I would try to apply for the program next year so it is good to know about experiences lived by others.

    • Panchi says:

      Hey Juan, extremely sorry for the late reply.. I was almost into hibernation… finally back to my blog 🙂 glad to know that you liked it 🙂 best wishes with the application!!

  10. Ana Mikler says:


    I am one of the new students for the astromundus program. I found this blog through the facebook group, and I find it really interesting and eye opener. Thank you for writing this, the lessons mentioned are a great thing to keep in mind and made me feel more ready to take the risk :P.

    • Panchi says:

      Ana… Welcome to Astromundus… it is a verrry big opportunity – not just because you will be trained in your favourite field of science by some of the most experienced professors of Europe, but also because you will get to meet many different people, see different cultures, be at a completely different atmosphere 🙂 I am sure you would love the coming two years of your life!! Best wishes 🙂 🙂

  11. kumarkiran says:

    Hi Panchi,

    Like everyone of here I too stumbled upon your blog, while searching for information related to Astromundus Program. 🙂

    I haven’t gone through your blogs yet (but soon will do that 🙂 ), but I read this particular blog as I landed on this page 🙂 .

    I am planning to apply to Astromundus for classes starting in September 2013. Is it possible for you to send me your Letter of Motivation format as well as CV?, I need some reference to write my own. You can email me at kiranthechallenger [{a t}]

    Looking forward for your help.

    Kiran Kumar

    • Panchi says:

      Hey Kiran

      Nice to meet another Astromundus-interested student through the blog. I do not have with me the letter of motivation that I sent then. And anyways, the best ‘Letter of motivation’ comes from you, it is better not to follow any format or reference or patterns and rather try putting down what motivated you and that is very personal to every individual. An original SOP always helps. But in case you want to be sure of it, you can send me your motivation letter in payaswini.ssc(at) and I can suggest some changes if needed. Will be happy to help that way!

      Anyways, feel free to drop a mail to ask for any information you need regarding Astromundus. You now have my email ID.

      Best wishes with the application 🙂

  12. Nambi Rajan says:

    Hi Panchi,

    I am applying for Astromundus 2016. I need some clarification in writing my “letter of motivation”. Since, i am from engineering background i don’t know what to write in terms of my academic knowledge or experience/activities related to Astronomy/Physics/Math. Since my childhood, i always looked up at the sky and wondered what’s out their. But, i wasn’t aware of the studies related to space when i completed my schooling. So, i took engineering thinking that it has vast career opportunities. Though it wasn’t my interest at all, later, i started liking it and completed the degree on time. Then, i started working in IT and it’s been 2 years now. In the past two years i showed much interest in Astronomy, Astrophysics, and all space related studies. I haven’t sticked to any book but, i learned a lot by watching science and space related documentaries.

    On the outside, i can talk about a lot of things related to astronomy. But, i wanted to know how things work at the fundamental level. So, i decided to do my masters in physics/astronomy/astrophysics.

    About myself: My name is Nambi Rajan. I am from India, from a middle class background. I even took education loan for my engineering studies. So financially my family can’t support me for my higher studies, even if i am going to study in India. But i didn’t lose my hope. I’d planned to switch multiple jobs to get higher income there by i could save some money for my higher studies. Recently, i heard about this Astromundus program through my friend who studies “Space Engineering” in France through scholarship and i really don’t want to miss this opportunity.

    Since you were a part of this program, if you could help me out on my motivation letter. it would be very helpful for me to obtain this scholarship. Thank you in advance. Hope you’re enjoying your day on Earth, Solar System, Milky way, Laniakea.

  13. SammyB says:

    Hello Panchi,

    Like some others here, I stumbled upon your blog (and this particular post) searching for information about the AstroMundus programme. I was accepted for this year’s edition, I am very excited :), but also a little nervous and I was wondering if I could write to you to ask you some things about the programme in general.

    Thank you for your time!

  14. SammyB says:

    Hello Panchi,

    Like some others here, I stumbled upon your blog (and this particular post) searching for information about the AstroMundus programme. I was accepted for this year’s edition, I am very excited :), and a little nervous, I was wondering if I could write to you to ask you some things about the programme in general.

    Thank you for your time!

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