The English-language bachelor's study course is internationally oriented. Students acquire comprehensive management expertise in seven semesters, but are also trained in intercultural competence. At present, Ayat Alkadri is learning both the foundations of marketing, logistics and accounting as well as various presentation techniques and business English. She is in her second semester, but a lot of things are still strange for her. “I still don't know how to handle everything”, says the 28-year old. “For example, in Syria the principle of open learning tended to apply. You didn't have to attend so many events in the university.”
Ayat Alkadri comes from a small town outside Damascus. In 2007, she completed her studies in a medical institute and then worked in a kindergarten. Civil war broke out in 2011, and there were skirmishes in her home town as well. In 2013 she fled with her parents, three brothers, her sister and her brother-in-law to Egypt. But after the military coup in Egypt the situation there for Syrians became more difficult. In the end, her father and brothers risked the crossing from Alexandria to Europe, and somehow or other they managed to get to Munich via Italy. They were placed in an initial reception centre in Deggendorf, Lower Bavaria.
Ayat Alkadri and her mother applied to the German embassy in Cairo for family reunification. The mother was permitted to join the others and flew to Munich at the beginning of 2015. Ayat Alkadri remained behind because she was over 18. Adult children are not permitted to follow. “I would have been alone in Egypt”, she explained. “My whole family was in Germany.”
Arrived on Tuesday, on the campus on Wednesday
She thought about moving to Turkey, but also submitted an immigration application for the USA, because she has an uncle who lives in Florida, but this was in vain. In Deggendorf a student gave her father a different idea: she should apply for a place at university.
With his help, her father submitted all the documents that the university requires from applicants for places. Her uncle opened a bank account for her in Deggendorf from Florida and deposited 8,500 euros. In Egypt, Ayat Alkadri crammed English and sat the IELTS test, which – together with her school leaving certificates from Syria – qualified her for the bachelor's programme.
In October 2015 she travelled to Germany on a student visa. “I arrived on a Tuesday and on Wednesday I was on campus for the first time”, she remembers. In the meantime, her family had moved to Deggendorf town centre.
“I am starting a new life”
She has since found friends among her German-speaking fellow students through a welcome project and a workshop at the university. Only her German is not as good as she would like herself. She attends a German course twice each week, and she recently sat the examination for Level A1. Still, she can already say “Dahoam is dahoam” (“home is home”) in the lower Bavarian dialect, even though she has to laugh when she says it.
Her visa is initially for the three and a half years of her study course, plus an extra year. Sometimes she thinks whether she will be allowed to stay. She hopes to learn in Germany how to rebuild a country after a war – “perhaps I will be able to help my country to do this one day”, she explains. But she doesn't want to return to Syria. “There is nothing there that I can do”, she says. “I am starting a new life here.”