“Mannheim is a very cosmopolitan city: I have made friends from all over the world.”

Giorgi Bokhua comes from Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and has been living in Germany for almost four years. The 22-year-old is studying the bachelor's program in Economics in his sixth semester and has recently handed in his bachelor's thesis. Read the latest myUniMA story to find out what Giorgi particularly enjoyed about his job as a tutor for first-year students and how he is experiencing the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on his studies.

Why did you decide to study at the University of Mannheim?

The first reason why I came to Germany was because you can't get an equally good academic education that is almost free of charge anywhere else. First, I spent a year at a Studienkolleg in Berlin. There, I took courses in Economics, but I wasn't yet sure whether I wanted to study Business Administration or Economics. Questions like “What are the main differences between economic systems?” have always been very interesting to me, not least because my home country Georgia has evolved from socialism to a market economy. In the end, that's why I decided to study Economics. Moreover, according to rankings, the University of Mannheim is one of the best German universities for this program of study.

What do you particularly like about the university and the City of Mannheim?

I particularly appreciate the quality of education, the university's infrastructure and the wide range of degree programs you can choose from. The University of Mannheim is a very business-oriented university in many respects, which is why there are many opportunities for specialization in this field. I feel very comfortable at the university, you can find many talented and intelligent people here who, like me, are fascinated by their field of study and always give their best. And recently I even got my second vaccination at the University of Mannheim. I was able to register spontaneously, which worked really well.

The City of Mannheim is organized in squares, which makes it easy to find your way around, especially to get to the university. In addition, Mannheim is a highly cosmopolitan city; I have made friends from all over the world here.

You've been in Germany for just about four years. How come you already speak German so well?

In Georgia, I already had some private lessons in German. Also, my grandmother is a German philologist, which greatly influenced my desire to learn German as a foreign language. My family is familiar with the country and the language, which is why my sister also moved to Berlin.

You worked as a tutor at the University of Mannheim: What did you particularly enjoy about the job?

I was a tutor for three courses for first-year students: I taught analysis and linear algebra, microeconomics, and statistics. The job was a very valuable experience for me, but also brought a lot of responsibility. In addition, I was able to deepen my own basic understanding of these subjects, as explaining the material to someone else is a different thing and helped me a lot with my own studies. You also acquire didactic skills and learn how to present. Now, I am much more confident when speaking freely in front of a larger group of people, whereas formerly, I was afraid of that.

How has online teaching changed your everyday life as a student?

The University of Mannheim adapted very quickly to the new circumstances and offered online classes. Things also changed for me as a tutor, because some courses suddenly had to be adapted to a completely different approach. For example, virtual classes involved less group work and more teacher-centered teaching. Personally, I think that on-campus classes are more fun, even though virtual teaching of course has certain advantages, for example that people don't have to move and thus can save costs.

Do you have any advice you would like to share with other international students who want to study in Mannheim or in Germany?

Get involved in various initiatives or in your departmental student committee! It's a lot of fun and – especially in the first semester – you quickly get to know the university and many fellow students, including those from higher semesters and other degree programs. I also think that you should never take the fact that you are not a native speaker as an excuse for not doing something. If you do your best, you will not be disadvantaged at any point as an international student at the University of Mannheim and can achieve anything you want.

Do you already have any ideas about what you want to do after completing your bachelor’s degree?

I'm currently receiving a graduation scholarship from the International Office that is dependent on talent and performance. This is supposed to make it easier for international students to complete their studies and facilitate their transition into professional life. I definitely want to continue my studies; however, for the time being, I'm going to gain a year of work experience in Berlin in order to find out what kind of career opportunities there are after completing a degree in Economics. I can well imagine staying in Germany for pursuing a master's degree, but the top universities in the UK are also very appealing to me. And at some point in time, I would like to return to my home country of Georgia.

Text: Rebecca Schanze / September 2021