“The University of Mannheim is a great place for international students to study”

Hieu Nguyen (23) comes from Hanoi and is studying Media and Communication Studies. He will complete his bachelor’s program in January. In his myUniMA story, he explains why he would like to work in Germany after graduation.

You’re working on your bachelor’s thesis at the moment, what’s it about?

I’m writing about the discourse quality in participatory journalism and quality newspapers. I analyze readers’ contributions and compare their quality to newspaper articles. I’m focusing on articles about the refugee crisis. There’s a research gap in this area so there isn’t much literature available, which makes things more difficult for me.

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

I’d like to find an internship or a part-time job to start with. If my grades are good enough, I’d also like to pursue a master’s degree, and if possible, continue studying in Mannheim. Two months ago, I finished an internship in the Marketing and Press department of the National Theater in Mannheim. My main task there was maintaining their website; I also created my own brochure. I enjoyed working there and can really see myself working in this field after my graduation. If I can find a job here, I’d really like to work in Germany.

What made you decide to study in Germany?

I moved over here four years ago. I visited Germany three times when I was young and really liked the way of life – you have more freedom here. Generally, German people are very nice and I like the student lifestyle. I spent a year learning the language before I moved here, and then I spent a further year attending a language school in a village near Erfurt before my degree program started. Sure, I found studying here difficult to begin with. My fellow students can handle German classic literature, like Habermas, better than me. Although, when I worked with them on a group project, they told me that they also find the literature difficult to understand even though they’re German native speakers.

How do you like your program of study?

I really like it but you have to work hard. Some of the courses are very theoretical and we have to read a lot for them. But there’s also a large focus on empirical methodology. I’m mainly interested in the quantitative aspect. The degree program in Mannheim is strongly characterized by this focus on research. In general, the University of Mannheim is a great place for international students to study. There’s always someone I can talk to if I have any questions or problems.

Are there any disadvantages for international students?

In my program, there are only two or three international students, and in some classes, I’m the only one. But I don’t mind that – you don’t usually notice any difference between the German and the international students anyway. I also know a Vietnamese girl, but she was born here, so technically she’s German. Applying for a job is more difficult as an international student. Your chances are lower if you aren’t a native speaker. But I think that’s just something international students who want to work in Germany have to deal with. Not all employers are bad though, the company where I did my internship was very open.

What do you think are the biggest cultural differences?

In Germany, everyone is very direct, unlike in Vietnam. There, we communicate more with our eyes than our mouths. I also tend to be more introverted. I would say that, in Vietnam, students have a lot more free time. The degree programs there are also less scientific. Universities of applied science are just referred to as universities. Most of my friends in Vietnam already have a family. That’s something I can’t imagine at this point. If I ever decide to go back, my language skills and my experiences abroad would be an advantage. Nowadays, there are many international companies in Vietnam where you can get a good job, but the competition from other applicants and students returning from abroad is usually high.

What do you miss about home? 

I don’t really miss anything. When I first came here, I missed my friends but that’s getting better with time.

Text: Lina Vollmer / October 2016