“Studying in Mannheim Allows Me to Perfectly Combine Research and Student Life”

Aleksandra Butneva comes from Moscow and is in her fifth semester of the bachelor's program in Political Science. When she was only 17 years old, she packed her bags to move to Germany – over two thousand kilometers away from home. In her myUniMA story, she talks about her childhood in Russia and reveals not only her future plans but also shares with us the reasons why she chose the University of Mannheim.

What did you do before you came to Mannheim?

I was born in Russia and lived in Moscow until I was 17 years old. During this time, I studied the German language thoroughly: I completed several language diplomas and was twice in Germany via exchange programs for pupils. After obtaining my university entrance qualification, I applied for a DAAD full-ride scholarship and received one of the coveted scholarships. In total, only four of these scholarships were awarded throughout Russia that year. When I was 17 years old, I moved to Germany and attended the Studienkolleg in Marburg for one year, in order to take the German Abitur. In 2018, I came to Mannheim.

Why did you choose the University of Mannheim?

I knew early on that I wanted to study in Mannheim. This was mainly due to the university’s top results in European university rankings. During my time in Marburg, I visited the city of Mannheim several times. When I saw the castle, everything seemed to fit perfectly for me.

What do you like most about student life in Mannheim?

The University of Mannheim made it possible for me to combine two lives. On the one hand, I spend evenings out with my fellow students and feel like a student. On the other hand, I engage in intensive exchange with researchers and teachers thanks to my work as a student assistant at the Chair of Quantitative Methods. I regularly attend conferences and give tutorials, so I invest a lot of time in research. Therefore, studying in Mannheim allows me to be more than just a student; this is the best thing for me.

Is there something that you miss from your home country?

Yes. Though I can call my family in Russia or communicate with them via FaceTime, unfortunately, I cannot touch and feel them. Sometimes, I miss this physical closeness. I also miss the Russian curd. Whenever I am in Russia, I have it every day for breakfast.

What do you do besides studying and working?

I have been an active member of the German Red Cross for one year now. I help to organize workshops and participate in the meetings that we arrange for migrant women from Syria and Africa. Unfortunately, due to the current coronavirus pandemic, this is hardly possible at the moment. Recently, I have also become active in the data science project CorrelAid. This involves analyzing data volumes, transferring our findings to social organizations and initiating joint projects. I am very enthusiastic about this: I want to present scientific findings in a way that is understandable to the general public, for example by presenting them in a visual format.

Do you have any plans for the time after you have finished your bachelor's degree?

My biggest dream is to go to the University of Oxford for my master's degree and to finance my studies with a fellowship. Afterwards, I would like to complete a doctorate and work for a non-governmental organization at the same time. In general, I would like to pursue a career that allows me to act as a link between research and the general public. In doing so, I want to communicate scientific findings in a vivid way and use them to improve people's quality of life.

Text: Tina Ratajczyk / August 2020