“I’m very glad that I can study in Germany”

Fanni Szente (21) comes from Veszprém, a town in Hungary. She has been living in Mannheim for two years and is currently in the fourth semester of the Bachelor’s program in Business Administration. She began learning German in the first grade, and formed her first impressions of Germany during dance competitions and a three-week language course in Bamberg. In her myUniMa story, Fanni tells us why she likes studying in Mannheim and explains how Germany is different to Hungary.


Why did you decide to study in Mannheim?

Fanni: Actually, I never planned on studying abroad. But just before I completed my Abitur, I started thinking about studying in Germany - why else had I been learning German since elementary school? When I was researching universities in Germany that focus on Economics, I naturally came across Mannheim. I saw the university had good rankings and so I applied.

Were you worried that you wouldn’t like it here or that you wouldn’t meet any friends?

Fanni: Yes, I was very worried. Going to university is the beginning of a new chapter in everyone’s life. But studying a bachelor’s program abroad is even more exciting. I did wonder whether I would like it here. That’s why I also applied to a university in Hungary. If I didn’t enjoy my first year in Mannheim, I could then return to Hungary and study there. But, luckily, everything here was okay. I made friends during the orientation week. It was really easy as we were all looking for new friends, regardless of whether we had lived in Germany before or not. Everyone was really open and friendly, which surprised me, as in Hungary, it is often said that Germans tend to keep to themselves. Now I have some really good friends in Mannheim. Without them, I would only enjoy my time here half as much.

How do you like your degree program so far?

Fanni: I really like my program of study. I wouldn’t be studying it otherwise. After all, you have to invest a lot of time in your degree program.  Having to learn so much by heart, and go to courses in B1 that start at 8:30 a.m., can be annoying at times. I’m not a morning person so that time of day is just too early for me. On the other hand, I’m impressed by the variety of courses available here. We can register for courses in all areas relating to Business Administration, which helps us to find out what we are good at. This is very different to studying in Hungary. My Hungarian friends have to register for a lot of mandatory courses and then qualify to take examinations, whereas I can just register for examinations using the portal. I’m very glad that I can study in Germany. I can organize my day how I like, even if that means I have to go to courses in B1.

As an international student, is there anything you find particularly challenging?

Fanni: When I first started my degree program, I found the language challenging, especially when subject-specific vocabulary was used. I didn’t understand a single word of my first lecture, which was about Accounting and took place on a Monday morning in B1. For a moment, I thought I might have made a mistake by choosing to study in Mannheim. I felt a little overwhelmed. But now I have been in Germany for two years, I don’t have this problem anymore. I actually find it more difficult when I visit my parents and have to speak Hungarian all of a sudden. During a recent visit, I woke up and accidentally spoke to them in German. Now I call them more often so that I don’t do that again.

What are the differences between Hungary and Germany?

Fanni: In terms of culture, people in Hungary often have more of a negative attitude and like to complain about their problems before they speak about other things. But I’m not like that - I’m a very positive person and don’t like to let other things upset me. Of course, not everyone in Hungary is negative. The political and economic situation in Hungary is more problematic compared to Germany. There is a lot of corruption, which is covered up. Instead of installing wind turbines and solar panels, nuclear power plants are being built. A lot of young people are leaving the country at the moment. But I hope that the situation will get better with time, and that people choose to return to Hungary eventually. 

Where do you see yourself in the future?

Fanni: I’m really not very good at planning. So, I’ll complete my bachelor's program, and then see where I end up. Although Mannheim has become my second home, I would like to travel and see more of the world. Maybe I’ll go to the USA to get a master’s degree. 

Interview: Sina Buschhold  |  Photo: Elisa Berdica  |  February 2017