Jakob Tjurlik / Photo credit: Jonathan Uhrig

“Everything I Learn at the University of Mannheim is Useful for My Future and at the Same Time Really Exciting.”

Jakob comes from Estonia and studies Economics in his last semester of the bachelor’s program. In his myUniMA story, he reveals why he chose the University of Mannheim, why he plans to go back to Estonia for some time after graduation, and which student organization he is engaged in.

Why did you decide to pursue a bachelor's program in Germany?
I have been learning German at school since the 2nd grade. First, I had German as regular school subject. In 7th grade, however, I started to attend a German school in Estonia. This way, I got two certificates when I graduated from school. One Estonian school-leaving certificate and the German Abitur. Since 9th grade, I knew I would like to try to pursue a bachelor’s degree at a German university. I simply wanted to benefit from this special opportunity and I felt certain that I would gain a lot of great experiences. Besides, German universities have a better reputation than Estonian higher education institutions and I know that I can go back to Estonia at any time. Because, in my home country, all doors are open to me.

Why did you decide to study Economics?
I was torn between studying Economics and Political Science or International Relations, but finally, I decided to go with Economics. I have always been interested in numbers and math. I am now in my third year of the program and I can say that studying Economics was definitely the right decision. I really like my degree program and I enjoy every single class. Everything I learn at the University of Mannheim is not only useful with regard to my future, but is also really interesting and exciting. For example, I have always been fascinated by how worldwide networks and economic interrelations within different countries work.

What do you particularly like about the University of Mannheim?
It is no secret that the University of Mannheim always achieves top rankings, especially in subjects related to economics and business administration. When I talk to my friends who study in other countries or at other universities, I always realize that the University of Mannheim is great in every respect. The program’s contents are taught very well, the lectures are very interesting, and the students get great support from their professors and teachers. In the Economics program, we are free to choose our elective subjects according to our interests. Additionally, course attendance is not obligatory, which means that students can decide themselves how they want to organize their studying schedule. I appreciate that a lot.

What was your first impression of the city upon your arrival in Mannheim?
Mannheim is certainly not famous for being among the most beautiful cities in Germany; yet, once I arrived here, I knew immediately that I had made the right decision. Of course, there are significant differences between Estonia and Germany, but I do not perceive them as negative: I know it sounds like a stereotype, but Germans are very organized, precise, and great at planning as well as being on time. They take rules very seriously and that is why everything works very well in Germany – including all processes at the university! In the current pandemic, I am particularly impressed to see how all classes and examinations still take place without any complications. During this time, I have also discovered a new side of Mannheim. I have explored new neighborhoods outside the city center as well as the region around Mannheim and I love it! Although Mannheim is not a big city, it has a lot to offer and the surrounding landscape is beautiful. During my explorations of the vicinity, I was almost always lucky to have good weather.

What are your plans after graduation?
I know that I want to do a master's degree, that is for sure; but apart from that, I do not have any particular plans. First, I have to go back home anyway. In Estonia, every young man has to serve in the military for 11 months. Once I have finished my military service, I would like to pursue a master’s degree in a different European country. I have learned many different things in Germany and I have gained much experience that has influenced me in many good ways. Now I am ready to gather new and different experiences and take new steps.

What do you do in your spare time?
Since the first week of my first semester, I have been a member in the “Model United Nations” student organization at the University of Mannheim. We organize various debates focusing on economic and geopolitical conflicts, but we also discuss ethical questions. The discussions follow the example set by the UN, which means that they are held according to high democratic standards. Due to my commitment within the organization, I had the opportunity to travel a lot. For instance, in 2019, I traveled to Madrid to participate in WorldMUN along with many other students from different countries. It is the largest conference in the world organized by “Model United Nations”. I learned so much for the future. Not only does this include a better understanding of the world and its correlations; I also had the opportunity to practice public speaking. On top of that, I made many friends from all over the globe. After my first year in the organization, I became so involved that I decided to take on the position of the organization’s presidency.

What is your piece of advice for international students who come to Mannheim?
I recommend them not to be afraid of anything. The university offers great support and assistance. In addition, I recommend attending the different kick-off events offered by the student organizations as well as the various other orientation events. The University of Mannheim has enough exciting events to offer for everyone. You only have to be courageous and take advantage of all the existing opportunities.

Text: Selina Supper / Febuary 2021