"TU Chemnitz is a great university where I feel very comfortable"
Interview with Xiaowen Yu, winner of this year's DAAD Award for outstanding achievements of international students
For her extraordinary commitment, Chinese student Xiaowen Yu received an award from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), valued at 1,000 euros, which is given annually for outstanding achievements by foreign students at German universities. It was awarded on 8 November 2018 at Chemnitz University of Technology during a ceremony along with German Scholarships, University Prizes and, for the first time this year, Prizes for Outstanding Achievements in Teaching, Research and Transfer. The President of Chemnitz University, Prof. Dr. Gerd Strohmeier, and the Vice President for Academic and International Affairs, Prof. Dr. Maximilian Eibl, awarded the DAAD prize.
Question: What challenges did you face during your first weeks in Chemnitz? How did you cope with these challenges and what recommendations do you have for other international students who are planning a stay at a German university?
Yu: From the very beginning, I felt very comfortable at Chemnitz University of Technology, for which I made a conscious decision. I became aware of this university through the suggestion of a friend who studied in Chemnitz, had very positive experiences, and told me about the good conditions. Due to my great interest in economic aspects, I decided to study economics at Chemnitz University of Technology. The high quality and the many opportunities for self-determination convinced me. In the beginning, the International Office supported me and organized events where I could get to know other students. However, I also received help from the Student Representatives. The biggest challenge was to understand all the bureaucratic processes of the German system, e.g. how the insurance system works, how the banks and the civil office are structured and how to rent an apartment. Knowledge of the German language is definitely an advantage and therefore I have concentrated on improving my language skills. This is also my recommendation for other international students: learn the German language as well as you possibly can.
Question: Looking back on your studies, what do you think are the most interesting aspects of studying at Chemnitz University?
Yu: The most interesting aspects of my studies are the freedom and the extensive learning and education opportunities. I find it very beneficial to design my own curriculum. There are many opportunities for deepening your knowledge base in my Bachelor's degree program in Economics and Business Administration and I enjoy that. In the first three semesters, students have time to find out which specialization most suits their interests, which I found very motivating. The international makeup of Chemnitz University gives me the opportunity to socialize and get in touch with other international students. The International Office offers exchange programs and I recommend that other students inform themselves and seize these opportunities. I myself would also like to do an exchange semester later in my Master's program, in order to strengthen my intercultural skills.
Question: You supported your fellow students during your studies. What motivated you and how do you juggle your volunteer commitment with your studies and your part-time job as a student assistant?
Yu: I am a cosmopolitan person who enjoys getting to know people from all over the world and supporting them. I have many Chinese and other international friends whom I accompany and support in dealing with authorities and translations. As of this year, I have been working as a student assistant at the Professorship of Corporate Accounting and Controlling. I enjoy working at the university very much, and it gives me the opportunity to deepen my knowledge. It was not always easy for me to handle my volunteer work along with my studies and job. Nevertheless, it is very fulfilling to be able to help others and to continue to educate myself.
Question: What were your feelings when you were informed that this year's DAAD Prize would be awarded to you? Do you have any plans as to what you would like to do with the prize money?
Yu: When I found out that I had received the prize, I was of course surprised at first and felt much honored. It is wonderful that my volunteer commitment to my fellow students and my good professional achievements are being rewarded, and I am very grateful for this award, which motivates me to continue working for the interests of international students. With the prize money, I can visit even more places in Germany and Europe and get to know other cultures.
Question: What will you do after completing your Bachelor's degree?
Yu: Chemnitz University is a great university where I feel very comfortable. That is why I am planning to enroll in a Master's here and expand my knowledge of accounting and business management.
The questions were asked by Eliza Roth, staff member of the International Office at Chemnitz University of Technology.
Background: Xiaowen Yu and the DAAD Prize at the TU Chemnitz
Yu has been studying for her Bachelor's degree in Economics since 2016. Prof. Dr. Silke Hüsing nominated her for the DAAD Prize. One of the reasons Hüsing nominated her was because Yu impressed her with her sharp arguments. In addition, she appreciated the above-average level of achievement as well as her competent oral participation. In her opinion, the prizewinner's curriculum vitae also shows considerable interest in and potential for proficiency in economics.
In other areas, Yu is engaged in helping fellow (international) students with organizational and personal issues, dealing with authorities and translations.
(Author: Eliza Roth / Translation: Eliza Roth and Jeffrey Karnitz)