Wajeeha Sultan / Photo credit: Anna Logue

“For my mother, the most important thing is that I'm happy - and I am very happy here indeed!”

Wajeeha Sultan from Pakistan came to Germany for the Mannheim Master in Management - and she likes it so much here that she plans to stay even after graduating. In her myUniMA story, she talks about the cultural differences between her home country and Germany, how her family reacted to her decision to study in Mannheim, and what kind of sports she does with passion.

What brought you to Germany?
I've always dreamed of doing my master's degree abroad. The problem, however, is the cost of studying abroad, as the Pakistani rupee is of little value in other countries. After completing my bachelor's degree in business administration, focusing on marketing and supply chain, in my hometown, I worked full-time and saved my salary for my master's degree. When I had enough money put aside, I went through my options: Which country can I afford and which university is the best for me? Germany and the University of Mannheim were the clear winners. I've been here for almost two years now.

Did your expectations of your program of study come true?
Absolutely.  As early as in the 9th grade I took courses in business administration, and I have always been particularly interested in the area of supply chain:  That was already my main focus during my bachelor's degree and I have also specialized in this field during my master's degree. I really like my program, even though the workload of the MMM is quite large. In the beginning, I had some difficulties - especially because I have to work parallel to my studies. In the meantime, however, I am doing very well.

What kind of job are you doing?
I work for DHL Supply Chain Management in the Global Sector Development team department. When I was in my second semester, I started working as an intern at DHL. Now, I am in my 4th semester and working on my master’s thesis. When I'm done, I will hopefully start working for my department. So I intend to stay in Germany for a while.

What is the biggest difference between Pakistan and Germany in your opinion?
Pakistan has a completely different culture than Germany.  Pakistan is an Islamic country, where women have to dress up and role allocation is very traditional. Women usually get married at an early age. Though I come from a rather conservative family, too, I didn't like this way of life. I wanted to study. In Germany, I lived on my own for the first time, apart from my family. In Pakistan, on the contrary, it is common for women to stay with their parents until they get married. Another difference is that I can go out here late in the evening without any problems. This is not common in Pakistan either, as the streets are too unsafe for women going out alone late at night. In addition, everything is well organized here: transport connections are great, as is the health system.

Then your family must have been shocked that you wanted to go abroad for your master's degree?
Yes, indeed. I have a very big family, it can never get boring there. Eight months before I left, I slowly prepared them for the fact that I was going to study in Germany. Fortunately, I applied together with a friend from Pakistan and we were both admitted. So, I wasn't completely alone during my first months in Germany, a fact that reassured my family a lot. In addition, my mother supports me very much. She often has to explain and justify my decisions to our large family and then she always says that the most important thing for her is that I am happy - and I am very happy here indeed!

What was it like for you to come to Germany? 
We arrived here on Sunday. During the first week, I had the opportunity to live in the apartment of a friend of mine in the Jungbusch district. When I walked through the neighborhood with my friend, it was quite a culture shock: In Karachi, the city I come from, it is always very busy. In the Jungbusch district, on the other hand, there were hardly any people on the streets. My first thought was:  “How did I end up here?” (laughs). But already the next morning, I felt much better and after the first week, I moved to a nice residence hall together with my friend. At some point, the University introduced cricket and this initiative. In Pakistan and India, many people are crazy about cricket, and now, I play cricket in Germany together with many friends from Pakistan and India.

What do you like most about the University of Mannheim?
Everything is perfectly organized: I can plan my courses in advance, check what the requirements are and when the exams will take place. This allows me to organize my working hours accordingly and book the flights home early because they are really expensive. I also like the large choice of courses, the opportunity to specialize in a specific field of study during the master's degree and that fact you are always very well supported throughout your studies.

Text: Selina Supper / July 2019