Eine lächelnde Person trägt eine altrosa farbene Bluse sowie einen schwarzen Blazer und steht vor einer Steinwand. Die Person heißt Tushna Vevaina.

“Being an International Student Just Makes You Stronger”

Tushna Vevaina is 25 years old and grew up in India. After finishing a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Mumbai, she came to Mannheim to pursue the Mannheim Master in Management (MMM) program. She is now in her fifth semester and has almost finished her studies. Why she took part in the Global Innovation Challenge in Taiwan and why she likes living in Germany, she tells us in her myUniMA story.

Why did you choose the MMM program at the University of Mannheim?

I did an exchange semester in Germany during my bachelor’s program in 2015. After that, I always wanted to come back to Germany. Also, a few years after I returned to India, my sister decided to study the bachelor’s program in Business Administration at the University of Mannheim. Once she had arrived in Germany, she raved about how things worked and praised the support she received from the university and the reputation it holds. I looked at the MMM program and found it super interesting: you can choose between classes from different areas such as sustainability, business & human rights, public blockchain, or subjects from the world of finance. Moreover, the university provides plenty of opportunities, like the career fair for example. That’s why I decided to apply for the program after I had worked two years at Deloitte India after finishing my bachelor’s degree. And I was very happy when I was admitted in 2020.

You were among the Mannheim participants in the Global Innovation Challenge in Taiwan last semester. What is this challenge about?

The Global Innovation Challenge is one of the options students in my master’s program have to complete a course abroad. The course is a collaboration between eight universities from Taiwan, the Netherlands, Australia, the United Kingdom, Portugal, South Africa, Norway, and Germany, namely Mannheim. There were four universities offering a challenge this summer, and I chose Taiwan because of the subject: “Advancing the Growth with Digital Asia”. Digitalization always fascinated me and while working as an intern at SAP, I got even more interested in this topic.

Five participants were selected as ambassadors to represent the University of Mannheim. Usually, you travel to the university where your course is taught. But because of the pandemic, I had to stay in Mannheim and started my classes at 2 a.m. and completed them at 10 a.m. We attended workshops, had guest lectures, learned about how blockchains, information systems, and programming languages like Python work, which was a constant personal challenge for me. The course included various fields from fintech and startups to large companies – specifically in Taiwan but also in a global context. The best thing was that we got to work with people from different universities all around the globe. The views of other master’s students were very interesting. There were, for example, some more experienced MBA students from a South African university. It’s a pity that I could not attend the course on site in Taiwan, but I’m still glad that I had the opportunity to participate in the challenge and thus to learn a lot from my peers because of their experience.

What do you do alongside your studies?

During my master’s degree, I checked out several jobs at the university, at the Chair of Marketing and Innovation and the Chair of Corporate Governance, for example, to see if I would like to do a doctorate. I also completed some internships with a duration of three to six months each and took on jobs at companies like SAP and Bosch. At SAP, I was introduced to business model innovation and technology trends. I also worked on diversity and inclusion topics at SAP due to my newly found interest in these topics. At Bosch, I also had the opportunity to work directly on digital transformation and data-driven business for the future of mobility. Thanks to the Uni Mannheim’s network and reputation I had the chance to work on such progressive, innovative topics with strategic relevance at a very early stage. I am now joining Henkel as an intern in their global market strategy unit. Moreover, thanks to my university jobs, I had the chance to attend a couple of conferences for professors and doctoral candidates that were very interesting because there were also speakers from the world of business adding their corporate perspective to the academic perspective. Attending a conference in March even made me realize for the first time that I want to work in business later.  

Do you feel that your time in Mannheim has changed you?

If I compare my life in Mannheim to the one I led in India, I have more freedom here as a woman and also receive more respect. That is important to me because I’ve become acquainted with the concept and value of freedom since I came here. The dorm where I live embraces diversity and internationality. And I actually made lots of friends and learned a lot about the German way of life. The people I’ve met in my dorm or at the university are absolutely amazing. The conversations I had with people from different areas of study helped me reflect on my own personal development in Germany: I came as a girl who was unsure of her place in this world, and today, I can confidently manage most situations with a defined understanding of the world and of who I am. Being an international student just makes you stronger.

Do you miss your home country?

I don’t think I can live in India again. I have a certain emotional connection to the country, but I would say I am much happier in Germany. I haven’t gone back to India since I came to Mannheim, and I don’t think I’ll go next year. I celebrate most traditional Indian and German festivities with my friends here and I had my parents and a couple of friends from India visit me this year. I can’t even imagine going back to India for work. I lean more towards the German culture now. I’ve been raised in India, but I am not from a traditional Indian family, because our roots are in Persia. I always felt that India is home to me, but that I can still find a place that will feel even more like home. And I’ve found it in Mannheim: in the past three months, I lived in the Stuttgart area and although I always considered leaving Mannheim, the minute I did, I realized that Mannheim is my home.

What advice would you give to other international students?

I would tell them to just take the leap. Don’t be afraid because it’s all going to work out.  You need to learn the language. You will also have to multitask, studying and working simultaneously. Try to fend for yourself as much as possible, pay your own bills, get along with German bureaucracy, go supermarket shopping, clean, cook. Managing all these tasks would not have been challenging for me at home in India because I would have had my parents doing it for me or our maids and drivers would have assisted me. But it is absolutely worth it, even though it involves a lot of adaptation. Once you are here, you are going to fall in love with it!

Text: Sabrina Wagner / September 2022