Eine Person trägt ein weißes T-Shirt sowie einen gelben Blazer und steht vor dem Schloss der Universität Mannheim. Die Person heißt Monika Buknova.

“Back then, I never would have dreamed that I would be studying inside the Schloss Mannheim one day.”

Monika Buknova comes from Slovakia and is studying the Mannheim Master in Management (MMM) program. Before taking up her studies in Mannheim, she traveled a lot around the world: a school year in the USA was followed by a bachelor's degree in Poland, which she combined with two semesters abroad in Germany. In her myUniMA story, Monika reveals why she is pursuing her master's degree in Germany and what special bond she has with the City of Mannheim.

What did you do before you started your master's degree in Mannheim?

I come from a small village in Slovakia and from an early age, I had the desire to discover other countries and their cultures. That's why I lived in the USA for one year while I was still in school. After finishing school in Slovakia, I moved to Poland to complete a bachelor's degree in International Business. In addition to this, I studied for two semesters at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, thus earning a double degree. In between, I completed internships at the Slovak Ministry of Health and at the German pharmaceutical company Fresenius Medical Care. I enjoyed my time in Germany so much that I decided to pursue a master's degree in Germany.

Why did you choose the University of Mannheim?

I decided to study in Mannheim because I already knew the city from a class trip we took when I was in school. When we visited the Schloss, I was deeply impressed and envied the people who had the opportunity to study in this great place. Back then, I never would have dreamed that I would be studying here one day; however, fortune has led me back to Mannheim. Every time I walk across the campus, I think back to that moment and realize how much I have grown since then and how significantly my German skills have improved.

Is there anything you particularly like about the Mannheim Master in Management program?

What I like most about the MMM is the fact that I can adapt the program to my interests because the choice of courses is structured very flexibly. I also find the teachers to be very competent and supportive. They always respond in detail to the students’ queries and also encourage us to engage in discussions. Moreover, thanks to the international orientation of the master's program, you get to know people from all over the world. When we work together in group projects, we are able to shed light on topics from various perspectives because we have the most diverse backgrounds and experiences. In general, I find the atmosphere in the program very motivating and stimulating. It makes me always want to do my best.

What do you do in your free time besides studying?

In my free time, I like to go jogging along the banks of the river Rhine and organize cooking classes for children as part of the non-profit project “youngcaritas”. However, my favorite hobby is acting. When I learned about the English-language theater group at the University of Mannheim, I was very excited and joined immediately. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our weekly rehearsals are currently taking place online. However, we are not letting that stop us and are working on smaller digital video projects that we plan to release on our social media channels next year. I really enjoy acting because you can improve your communication skills and gain self-confidence. Therefore, it is a hobby that also helps me in the working world: during my internships, for example, my theater experience made it easier for me to give presentations in front of many people.

Is there any recommendation you would like to give to other international students?

I would recommend them that they take advantage of the many opportunities offered by the various student organizations, because they are an incredible enrichment to student life. For instance, the student organizations allow you to quickly get in touch with other students and make lifelong friends. As the members all pursue different programs of study, the atmosphere is more relaxed because you don't need to talk about your subject-specific lectures or exams. 

Do you already have plans for the time after graduating from your master's program?

After completing my master's degree, I would like to work in health management. I'm thinking, for example, of working for a chain of clinics or for an international organization involved in public health care. I can also well imagine continuing to be involved in theater or charitable projects, because it's important to me to make a contribution to society.

Text: Tina Ratajczyk / January 2021