Eine Person trägt eine dunkle türkisfarbene Jacke sowie einen schwarzen Schal und steht vor dem Schloss. Die Person heißt Oleksandr Kova.

“I study Business Administration so I can start my own business one day”

Oleksandr Koval was born in Ukraine and grew up in a suburb of Kiev before moving to Germany to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Prior to studying Business Administration at the University of Mannheim, he completed an intensive language course at a Studienkolleg in Thuringia. In his myUniMA story, he tells us about the differences between Ukraine and Germany, and what his favorite sport futsal is all about.

In what way is life in Ukraine different from life in Germany?

It is generally warmer in Germany, especially now in winter. The biggest difference is the standard of living though. As Germany is part of the European Union, employees earn more, the standard of living is higher and the population can benefit from things that we don’t have: for instance a deposit-refund system, or proper bus and train timetables. In Ukraine, we can often only show up at a stop and hope for the bus to come. But it is also the people who are different: Ukrainians are more outgoing, whereas Germans are a bit more reserved and shy at times. Although people in Ukraine don’t have a lot of money, they are happy and warmhearted. Another difference is that we have a lot more football fields in Ukraine, which we can use for free. Over here, you either have to pay for using them or they are in remote locations which are difficult to get to.

So do you play football then?

I play futsal. It is basically indoor football with a twist. It is a five a side game with different rules to normal football. The game is played in two halves of twenty minutes each and players aim at a small handball goal at each end of the field. I play futsal every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the courses offered by the Institute of Sports. Nonetheless, I am also a big football fan. My favorite football team is Dynamo Kyiv, and I regularly attend football matches of the SV Waldhof. The difference in pricing is remarkable though, compared to Ukraine. In Germany I have to pay 15 euros to watch a third league game, whereas at home, I would only pay 3 euros to attend a Champions League game.

Why did you decide to study in Germany?

In Ukraine we have the problem that we don’t have a great choice of universities to go to, and not a lot of job opportunities either. So, when I was just 15 years old, my parents and I decided together that I would go to Germany for my studies. I spoke German for the first time at the Studienkolleg, where I attended many language courses and was able to obtain a C1 level of proficiency in German after one year. To study in Poland would have been my alternative choice. It was always my dream to study Business Administration so I would one day be able to start my own business. That’s why I chose Germany, and specifically the University of Mannheim. In my opinion, the University of Mannheim is the best and most beautiful university in the world, not only because of the campus around the Schloss, but also its good organization, excellent reputation, and high standard of education.

Do you already have plans for your business?

Yes, I would like to work in the car industry as I am a big Formula 1 and Ferrari fan, and generally passionate about cars. That’s why I also became a member of the automobile association for students of the University of Mannheim (SAV). With my business, I would like to get into electric cars. That’s the future. Germany, of course, is an important logistical site due to its flourishing automotive industry. I could therefore imagine staying in Germany after graduating from university, but I would also consider setting up my business in Switzerland, for example.

What do you like most about Mannheim?

I enjoy not having to travel far to visit the many beautiful cities in the area. I really like visiting Heidelberg and also Frankfurt, where I went to the International Motor Show this year. There are so many great things to do and experience. I would always decide again on studying in Mannheim and I would also recommend studying at our university to other students, especially if they are planning on working in the fields of business and economics.

Text: Selina Supper / December 2019