Interview: Refugee student from electrical engineering receives support from the integration program "NRWege".

 |  EIM-NachrichtenEI-Nachrichten

Michil Nono has been living in Germany since 2016. Last winter semester, he started his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering here at the University of Paderborn. Thanks to the "NRWege" introductory scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), he has been able to take part in a number of workshops as well as receive financial support. In the interview, he talks about how he likes his studies so far, what he was able to take with him thanks to the scholarship, and what he is most looking forward to in the coming years at the University of Paderborn.


You have been studying electrical engineering at the University of Paderborn since the winter semester of 2020. Why did you decide to study this subject?

I am simply very interested in the field of electrical engineering in general. Besides, my father studied the same thing back then, and that's how I came into contact with this field at a pretty early age. As I got older, I was able to gain a lot of experience in my father's company, which is why it felt right to deepen my knowledge through my studies.

So, did you always know that you wanted to study electrical engineering?

Yes, actually I did. As a child, I was mainly interested in the manual, practical area of electrical engineering, which is why it was clear to me quite early on that I wanted to study something in this field later on. When I came to Germany a few years ago, I had the opportunity to do an internship at a company in Münster that specialized in energy and building technology. This made me realize that I really enjoy electrical engineering!

Was there a formative experience from your childhood that you can remember particularly well?

Where I grew up, the summer vacations lasted three months. To earn some extra money during the vacations, my parents used to send me and my cousins to the workshop, where we helped out all summer. Until I was 18 years old, we worked there every summer in energy and construction engineering, taking care of building services. That was very formative because I learned a lot during that time.

Does electrical engineering offer you a chance to pursue your dream job later?

Yes, definitely. Although I haven't decided exactly which direction I want to go in later professionally, I know that the degree will open up many possibilities for me.

You will be spending a few more years here at the University of Paderborn before you graduate with your bachelor's degree. What is your impression of Paderborn and the university so far? What makes Paderborn an attractive place to study for you?

I like it here very much! Compared to other universities, I find the campus here particularly nice. I also like the student dormitory and the students I have met so far have all been very open-minded and nice. I also like the many events that the university and especially the International Office organize for us. Fortunately, this has already allowed me to get to know some fellow students. And what I like about Paderborn is that the city is not too big. It's all very informal, which makes it much easier and quicker to get to know other people!

How did you find out about the newcomer scholarship?

The International Office sent an e-mail to us students. I first found out a bit about it and later called them to clarify further questions. It wasn't that complicated to apply for the scholarship, and the International Office was very helpful.

What did you learn from the scholarship?

I took part in four workshops as part of the scholarship. These were mainly about learning how to write an application properly and how to prepare for job interviews. That was very helpful and also a lot of fun.

Did the scholarship also have a positive impact on your motivation and self-confidence with regard to your studies?

Yes, definitely! I had already learned some things from the workshops during my language course. But through the consolidation and repetition during the workshops, I have now become much more confident. Especially when it comes to job interviews and speaking freely in German, I am now much more confident.

What new perspectives have you gained for your professional future?

I feel much more prepared to find a suitable job after my studies and to be able to apply for it successfully. I can also use my knowledge of job applications to possibly apply for a scholarship later on.

How has your view of your studies changed?

The financial security provided by the scholarship gave me much more time to concentrate on my studies. Especially during Corona, this relieved me of a lot of worries, as I was afraid of not being able to find a job and ultimately not being able to afford my studies. Thanks to the scholarship, I didn't have these worries and was able to concentrate all the more on my studies and the subject of electrical engineering.

Are climate protection and sustainability current topics for you that you find in electrical engineering?

Yes, very much so! I would also like to do my master's in power engineering at some point. I notice how this topic is becoming more and more important and I would like to delve into it. So far, I haven't learned that much in my studies, but I know that will definitely come in the next few semesters.

Did you feel that the University of Paderborn and your fellow students were able to help you with questions and problems?

Yes. Everyone I have met here so far has always had great understanding for me and helped with questions and problems. Especially the International Office here at the University of Paderborn has been very helpful and has always dealt with me well.

What are you particularly grateful for during your studies?

I am very grateful for the great understanding of the people here at the University of Paderborn. I have been here in Paderborn for three years and have never encountered any problems so far - on the contrary, I have always been supported immediately with everything. I particularly appreciate that here.

Were there any experiences during your studies that surprised you the most, that you didn't expect?

Yes, unfortunately the bureaucracy. Sometimes it's hard for me to understand everything directly. If I then answer or fill out something incorrectly, it directly takes much longer to send it back and reprocess it. I have to admit, I didn't expect that at first.

Corona is unfortunately also a big issue in your student days. How did you feel in those early days and how has that possibly changed with face-to-face teaching?

I found it very unfortunate that I was not able to participate in O-Week or other first-year events last year. This was very frustrating in the beginning that I couldn't meet any friends or get any direct help from the student council. Therefore, I had to do everything regarding the registration for events myself and that was quite a lot at the beginning of my studies. But now it's better because of the presence. You see other students on campus and that motivates you to keep studying and learn more. I'm generally much more motivated when I get up in the morning and go to the university. Also, in teaching I find it much better in presence. You don't have to worry about technical problems anymore and you can talk to the lecturers face-to-face and clarify questions directly.

What do you wish for the rest of your studies here at the university?

I would be very happy if there were more events at the university where you can get to know other students. For example, I have some computer science courses in my studies, but I don't know many computer science students. So, I would be very happy if the whole faculty EIM would get together every now and then, so that students from the different institutes could connect. That would help me a lot, for example, if I had questions about a computer science lecture and already had friends or contacts to computer science students.

What will follow after your studies? What plans and wishes do you have for your future?

After my bachelor's degree I would like to start working somewhere and gain some practical experience. After that, I'll think about whether I want to do another master's degree. Depending on where I work later, I might be able to decide on a new direction. But at the moment, my focus is more on starting to work after my bachelor's degree.

As a final question, what is your greatest wish for the future?

For me personally, that I eventually have a small house, with a small car, a wife and two children. And in general, that we all live in a slightly fairer world where everyone gets the same opportunities.

More information about the program:

(Foto: Zara Akopyan)