Porträt von Weiqing Zhu, im Hintergrund ist ein Teil des Schlosses und ein grüner Busch zu sehen.

“I Want to Create Social Added Value with My Knowledge”

Weiqing Zhu grew up in China, in a region on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. After completing a bachelor’s degree in Information Management and Information Systems, she worked as an IT consultant in an international company for a year. This brought her into contact with German companies and sparked her interest in German culture. Today, 26-year-old Weiqing is in the seventh semester of the master’s program in Business Informatics at the University of Mannheim and is currently writing her final thesis. In her myUniMA story, Weiqing talks about her home country and her reasons for studying in Germany.

You grew up in Qinghai, a region rich in Tibetan culture. What makes this culture unique and what have you learned from it?

I lived in Qinghai for 17 years and grew up in a multicultural environment with many different ethnic minorities. I think many people don't know that there are at least 55 ethnic minorities officially recognized in China. Many of my friends have a different cultural background with their own language and their own holidays. I think that made me quite open-minded. It's easy for me to accept and learn something new because I know that every person is unique.

What made you decide to come to Germany and study at the University of Mannheim?

In the third year of my studies in China, I started to think about what I would do after graduation. My favorite professor suggested I study abroad. After my studies, I worked at an international IT company in China, which also has a few offices in Europe and America, for a year. That's how I got to know colleagues from other countries. I really want to get to know many people and have new experiences. That's why I wanted to study abroad.

I chose Mannheim because I have a Business Informatics background. I also really like the program here because it's in English and a mix of information systems courses, data science courses, and business courses. I like the diversity and being able to choose from different areas. 

What do you like most about your program of study?

I think the program is quite demanding. Many courses have an exam, a presentation, and a small project, which means we have to work with other people. That is a challenge: You have to concentrate on your studies, prepare for the exam, work with other people, and improve your programming skills. But in the meantime, I've also made a lot of friends, and got to know more and more people. I think it's a good way to make friends. I really appreciate that.

You have been living in Mannheim for over three years. Is there anything you miss from your home country?

Yes, I definitely miss my family, the food and being able to celebrate with my friends and family on traditional holidays. And there's something else I miss: I danced a lot in China and we did dance performances on the street. I really enjoy doing sports. So I go to the university sports program a lot and also try out lots of different dances.

... And what are the things that you particularly appreciate about Germany?

Last year I was quite anxious about our exam because it was really difficult for me. I felt really lost because I didn't know how to prepare for it. Fortunately, there is the Psychological Counseling Services, offered by the Studierendenwerk. I think this offer is really useful. I went to them and as a result, I passed the exam. I still remember many of the things I learned back then. These things helped me to stay positive.

I also worked in the office at the Institute of Sport. I found it very difficult to settle in at the beginning. I don't speak much German, but when I worked there, many people spoke to me in German every day. I realized that there are so many people who are friendly and want to talk to me. That was when I started to really try to settle in Germany.

What advice would you like to share with other international students?

I think as an international student you always try to protect yourself because you're not really familiar with the environment. This hinders our curiosity. I would encourage everyone to bite the bullet and explore everything, because there is more to discover than you think.

You are in the process of writing your thesis. What are your plans for the future?

My master's thesis focuses on improving efficiency and reducing the computing power required for data processing by applying specialized algorithms. This is good for technological development, and also good for the environment. I am currently also a working student helping to apply IT technology in some companies. I expect my future to create social added value with my knowledge. And if you ask me whether I want to stay in Germany: Yes, I want to stay. I really like it here.

Interview: Celine Gerger / June 2024