“Knowledge and Education are Very Important in Germany and Jordan”

Areej Salah comes from Jordan and is in her second semester of the master's program in Language and Communication. After earning a bachelor's degree in Doha, Qatar, and working for a few years, the 35-year-old moved to the German Odenwald region to study at the University of Mannheim. In the latest myUniMA story, she talks about the challenges she faced at the beginning of her studies and about cultural differences between her home country and Germany.

Where did you obtain your bachelor's degree and why did you decide to pursue a master's degree at the University of Mannheim?

I completed my bachelor's degree in Doha, Qatar. I came to Germany four years ago for family reasons. During the first two years, I lived in the mountainous Allgäu region and then I moved to the area. I decided to study at the University of Mannheim because Mannheim is close to where I live and I was interested in the program of study. I was very happy to have been accepted.

You are currently pursuing a master's degree in Language and Communication. Where does your interest in languages originate from?

Originally, I wanted to study Media and Communication Studies; however, since my bachelor's degree in Doha had a more practical orientation, I didn't have enough credits to enroll in this program. As an alternative, the Student Services recommended the master’s program in Language and Communication to me. In Doha as well as in Dubai, I had already gained several years of professional experience in marketing and internal communications. That's why the degree program was a good fit, as I can well imagine continuing to work in this field. So far, I really like the master's program. I delve into many details of language and explore the ways you can play with it.

Are there any cultural differences between Jordan and Germany that particularly strike you? 

The best thing about Germany is the freedom I enjoy here. In addition, the food and the language of course differ greatly from one Jordan to Germany. However, knowledge and education are very important in both countries. The two countries also work together in this area through various collaborations; for example, there is the German Jordan University in Amman.

Are there any special challenges you face as an international student and if so, how do you deal with them?

Of course, I had challenges to face, first and foremost the German educational system. This was entirely new to me and I needed some time to get used to it. Managing the new language was also a challenge. Sometimes, you can feel a bit uneasy or even isolated if you don't understand exactly what people mean. But the good thing is that there are many teachers, professors, and fellow students who are willing to help. You can ask them any questions and they will tell you that it's okay to ask questions and that everyone who comes to a new country to study there has the same experience.

Do you already have any ideas about what you want to do after graduation?

I will finish my studies next year and therefore I will already start looking for a job this summer. Before the coronavirus pandemic began, I already had a few job opportunities, but unfortunately, I was turned down again. However, maybe that was even better in the end, because it would have been difficult for me to work and study at the same time. I hope to find a job near home. I would prefer to continue working in internal communications, but marketing and events would be an alternative option, as I have already gained experience in this field in my previous job. 

Text: Rebecca Schanze / April 2021