“I decided I wanted to try something new”

Hanna Motuzenko comes from the Ukrainian city of Donetsk and lived in Kiev for several years. After finishing high school, she spontaneously decided to study in Germany. Now, Hanna is in her second semester of the Economics program at the University of Mannheim. In her myUniMa Story, she doesn’t just explain why she suddenly decided to study in Mannheim, she also tells us about her involvement in the AIESEC student initiative.

Why did you decide to study in Germany?

It was a very spontaneous decision. You could say it was fate. Unlike many other international students, I hadn’t always dreamed of studying abroad. I started learning German shortly before I finished high school, but not because I wanted to study in Germany. Then, I kept meeting people who told me more about the country and the different study options available there. A friend of mine, who I also met just before I left school, was my inspiration. She told me about her dream of living in Germany, and I decided I wanted to try something new. I knew then that I wanted to study in Germany too. I wanted to leave my comfort zone and continue developing my skills after I finished high school. I also knew that German degrees give you a totally different set of options compared to Ukrainian degrees.

How did you find out about the University of Mannheim?

Like many other students, the university’s reputation was really important to me. But I initially didn’t want to apply to Mannheim. I thought that the university was too good for me, and I never thought that I’d be accepted onto the program. Even the letter of motivation made me nervous. But I decided to fill out the application anyway and submitted it at the last minute. I then received my letter of acceptance and knew that I didn’t need to wait for responses from the other universities I had applied to – I was going to study in Mannheim.

You mentioned that studying in Germany has changed you in a positive way, and that you have changed your opinions on a lot of things. Can you tell us more about that?

Most of all, my attitude towards studying has changed. Germany has shown me just how important education is for me and my development. At school I was an average pupil, and I didn’t realize how essential learning was. Nowadays, I’m happy when I understand a new formula and things make a little bit more sense. Internationality is also something that I have learned to value. Meeting people from different cultures and learning something new from them is so exciting. Before I started university, I attended a Studienkolleg in Hannover to prepare me for my studies, and while I was there I also met lots of international students and really enjoyed living with them.

What do you like about Mannheim?

The palace. But I also really like my program of study and the university in general. It took me a little while to get used to it to begin with. Everything was new – my apartment, the student lifestyle, and my friends. But now Mannheim is my second home. I also like how the city isn’t too big. It doesn’t take long to travel to the other parts of town. There’s always something going on, but not too much, which means I don’t have any problems concentrating on my studies.

Why did you get involved with the AIESEC student initiative?

I found out about AIESEC while I was at the Studienkolleg. I like the idea behind the initiative. AIESEC gives students the chance to do voluntary work in other countries, which doesn’t just give them the opportunity to get to know new cultures; it also enables them to help people. As I enjoy traveling and would like to work in an international environment one day, AIESEC is perfect for me.  I’ve been helping out in the initiative’s financial department since my first semester, which enables me to gain some practical experience alongside my studies.  I’d like to take part in the program soon. Africa, South America, Asia – I don’t mind where I go, but I would like to volunteer in a school. Germany has taught me that education is very important. It’s sad that not everyone is able to get a good education. That’s why I would like to pass on some of what I’ve learned.

Are you involved in any other initiatives?

I was a member of the Anglistic Theatre Group (ATC) for a semester. While I was still living in Ukraine, I decided I wanted to try out acting. The ATC gave me the chance to see what acting was like and to improve my English. But unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to continue going to the group. It was a great experience though.

Text: Sina Buschhold / May 2017