Sofía García Durrer / Photo credit: Privat

“Someday I'd like to go back to Colombia and use the experience gained in Europe to make a contribution to the political process at home”

Sofía García Durrer graduated from a German school in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, before coming to the University of Mannheim to study Political Science. In her myUniMA story, she talks about why she came to Mannheim, reports on her experiences during an internship at the German Bundestag and, after four semesters of study experience, shares her tips with other international students.

Why did you decide to study Political Science in Mannheim?

I always wanted to study in Germany because I went to a German school in Colombia. Beforehand, I had already done an internship at the German Bundestag, which sparked my interest in politics. When I was researching universities, I looked at their rankings for political science and the University of Mannheim always scored very well. The evaluations and comments from students were also excellent. However, I didn't even know the city of Mannheim before I decided to study here.

How did it come that you got an internship at the German Bundestag?

We had the opportunity at school to apply for an internship at the German Bundestag. I applied successfully and then spent three weeks working for the CDU deputy Philipp Murmann, took on administrative tasks, and accompanied the deputy to conferences and other events.

How did you like the internship?

I was very excited to have a close look at German politics. I even met Angela Merkel, which was really nice. She told me that she had already been to Colombia and that she likes Colombian food very much.

What do you particularly like about your studies in Mannheim?

Before I started my studies, I was worried I might be the only foreign student. But then I quickly realized how international the University of Mannheim is. I have made a lot of friends from different countries.

Have you ever had any difficulties during your studies?

In the first semester I faced some difficulties because the German education system is different from the one in Colombia. I was used to having to complete several minor tasks throughout the year but in Germany you only take several large exams at the end of each semester. In the first semester, I did not know that and thus started revising too late. Of course, I didn't make that mistake the next semester as I already knew the system. 

Is there something you miss from your home country?

I miss my family and the Colombian food. Here in Mannheim, I sometimes take my friends to “Colombian nights” to show them my culture.

Do you have any advice for other international students on how to settle in quickly?

I would recommend joining one of the various student organizations. You can get to know lots of people there which helps to integrate faster. I would also advise anyone to travel a lot. I have already traveled to Sweden, Italy, Paris and Switzerland - at relatively low costs.

Do you already know what you want to do after you graduate?

I also want to do my master's degree in Europe – but probably not in Germany because I want to get to know other countries. Once I've completed my master's degree, I can well imagine working in Europe – for example at an international organization. Someday, however, I'd like to go back to Colombia to use the experience gained in Europe to make a contribution to the political process at home.

Text: Anna-Lena Kiewiet / January 2019