An Update after Four Years: Mariana's myUniMA Story – Part 2

Mariana Roa Vargas (24) comes from Mexico City and is about to complete her master's degree in Political Science. She already completed her bachelor's degree at the University of Mannheim and has been involved in a variety of activities and continuing education programs along the way. In the new myUniMA story, Mariana tells us how her life has changed since her first semester as a student to graduating with a master's degree.

Four years ago, during your bachelor's degree, we talked to you for the first time – what has changed since then?

My entire life (laughs). I've completed two semesters abroad – one in Dublin at Trinity College and one in Paris at Sciences Po, which has always been my big dream. I started my master's degree in Political Science and met my fiancé here in Mannheim. And I have developed personally: I have matured a lot and it has become easier for me to make decisions.

But, of course, there are also things that have remained unchanged, for example my fondness for the university and the city of Mannheim, and the great friendships I made here right at the beginning of my studies. I am also still very proud to be able to study at the University of Mannheim.

After completing your bachelor's degree, what made you decide to also pursue your master's degree in Mannheim?

While doing my bachelor's degree, I enjoyed quantitative work a lot. And I wanted to pursue that in my master's program. Of course, I considered other options, but Mannheim is the best choice if you want to combine Political Science with the quantitative aspect. Besides, my gut feeling played an important role in my decision-making process.

Have you been able to gain interesting experience outside of your program of study?

Yes, quite a lot, actually. During my bachelor's degree, I first worked at the Chair of International Relations and then at the Chair of Quantitative Methods. There, I had the opportunity to give a tutorial for first-year students, which was great fun. Moreover, I am employed as a student assistant at the Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences (GESIS), where I have been able to develop my research skills. And thanks to my volunteer work at CorrelAid, I was able to put the theory we learn at university into practice for the first time, carrying out a data analysis project for the Mannheimer Platte – that was a very good experience!

In addition, I have been involved in many student organizations over the past few years: I was on the board of Model United Nations Mannheim and in the Studenteninitiative für Kinder e.V. And I am active in the VISUM buddy program. After having had such great experiences thanks to my buddy when I arrived in Mannheim five years ago, I decided to become a buddy for international students myself!

When we first talked to you, you didn't know yet what you wanted to do after graduation. Do you now have more concrete ideas for the time after completing your master's degree?

Yes, I plan to stay in Europe for the time being and gain some work experience here. At the moment, I am doing an internship at the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations in Geneva. The internship is very exciting and I enjoy it very much I can well imagine continuing to work in this field.  I am very happy about this internship because I have been participating in the Model United Nations, i.e. simulations of the work of the United Nations, since my school days. It is really a big milestone for me that I am now doing something in reality that I started as a game ten years ago. It makes me grateful and proud.

What is the greatest thing you have experienced during your time in Mannheim?

One of the greatest gifts was that I made so many good friends right at the beginning of my studies: We still stay in close contact with each other and support each other. And I discovered pumpkin seed oil ice cream in Mannheim!

I also had many great experiences at the university: Since we are a small group of students in the master's program, the teachers really attend to the students’ individual learning needs and also provide support regarding our plans for the future! Moreover, I have been granted a DAAD graduation scholarship for my master's degree. Furthermore, I always appreciated to see how open the University of Mannheim is towards international exchange. I don't think every university has such a great International Office! In my experience, the University of Mannheim is not only a good choice because it has excellent rankings, but also because international students are welcomed with open arms and cared for in such a friendly way.

Text: Sarah Kempe / December 2020