DAAD award for IGC student Fjorinda Baholli

Fjorinda Baholli receives the DAAD award for outstanding achievements in international academic exchange of international students. The 41-year-old Albanian is in her 4th semester studying for her Master's degree in European Studies at International Graduate Center (IGC).


She is currently working on her Master's thesis on the European Social Fund and the integration of women in the labor market and gender equality issues. Prof. Dr. Christiane Trüe nominated Fjorinda Baholli for the DAAD award because she was the best student of the year with outstanding achievements in her study program. Read an interview with the recent award winner.


Congratulations on winning the DAAD award! What does this award mean to you?

It means a lot to me. I see the award as an appreciation to all international students. The award not only honors academic achievements, but also social commitment. In addition, students are motivated by the award.


What were the reasons for your nomination, and why did you ultimately win the award?

My Program Director, Prof. Dr. Trüe, nominated me for the award. I think that not many women my age dare to break new ground and try to build a life abroad for themselves and their families. I am exposed to new challenges and have taken risks in an environment that is unknown to me. These are probably the reasons why I won the award.



You are studying in Bremen. Your family lives in Albania. How do you cope with the challenge of being separated from your family?

It is not easy, but in my opinion there is always a way as long as you are determined enough. I am in contact with my family every day. That gives me strength.


Why did you decide to study in Bremen?

Before starting my studies I could not speak German. That's why I was looking for a study program in English. A professor in Albania suggested IGC’s Master Program in European Studies. Then I checked the ranking of universities in Germany. It turned out that Hochschule Bremen City University of Applied Sciences (HSB) is doing well there. This confirmed my desire to join the Master Program in European Studies at IGC.


How does a day of your everyday life in Bremen look like?

The master's program is a full-time program. However, on the side, I work as a student assistant at HSB. Since this is only a student job, I had to look for another job to be able to financially support my family in Albania. Therefore, I also work at a fast food chain. For this job, knowledge of German is not mandatory but helpful. And since HSB offers language classes, I decided to take a German class.


You are dealing with the topic of equality as part of your Master's thesis. How do you feel about equality in Germany?

I think that equality still needs to be furthered in Germany. I always try my best and I think that this has helped me to be successful. I want to show my daughters that they should not take everything for granted and that they have to work hard if they want to achieve something in life.


Where would you like to apply after graduation? In what direction would you like to specialize?

I would like to pursue a profession that relates to my studies. Many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and companies deal with European funds. In Albania, I worked as an internal auditor. I would like to specialize further in this field. My previous experience and knowledge acquired in the Master's degree program will help me in this.


Can you imagine staying permanently in Germany?

Yes, I would like to live in Germany. That will be my next big step. Germany offers many opportunities, which I don’t want to miss. However, this step requires a lot of courage. First  I have to find a job, then I would like to bring my two oldest daughters to Germany. That is my main goal at the moment.


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