Testimonials: Masters degree programme PELP

Fazal Mahmood Ali is DAAD scholarship holder

Fazal Mahmood Ali completed his Bachelor degree in 2013. After two years in profession, he decided to take up a Masters degree programme. He is one of the DAAD scholarship holders for the PELP degree programme.

What did you study before you started your master’s at Leuphana?
I did my bachelor’s in Afghanistan, in Economics. And I graduated in 2013 – the same year when I got married. After that I started working at the Central Bank of Afghanistan. I worked there for two and a half years more or less and at the same time I applied to two different scholarships, one was the PPGG-scholarship from the DAAD here at Leuphana for the PELP programme and the second one was at the Singapore National University. And luckily I got both of them. I was so confused what to do because they were kind of similar programmes: So I was thinking about it and talked it over with friends and my family - they recommended going to Germany. The first reason was that I would learn a new language. And it is not only Germany, it is also Europe. And also I think the academic standards in Germany are so high – that’s why I came here.

Why did you decide to continue studying after your Bachelor’s degree?
The main reason that pushed me to do a Master’s degree was to enhance my career. Obviously, it helps you to get good jobs. And – to be honest – I wanted to help my country, too. For that reason I needed something that would equip me with better skills and in-depth knowledge. So this high academic level is very important.

Did you have any idea about studying abroad?
I didn’t exactly know the system here, and the educational system. They are completely different in terms of how research is done at my university in Afghanistan. The Bachelor’s degree that I did was almost entirely based on examinations. But here it was the opposite. So we did more research than we had exams. I think that was the main difference I realised, and I think it’s a positive difference. At Leuphana University the learning environment is much more flexible and independent, it’s not like you are restricted to one book or one teacher for example.

Talking about the flexibility of the study environment at Leuphana University
Well, it was a little bit difficult for me to get used to the system. The first semester was hectic for me, I had to get used to the system and had to learn in a foreign language. So the first semester was hectic, but later I joined the communities here, different communities at Leuphana University. I also had a student job here in the examination board. So, after a while I became more active.

As you probably know, Leuphana understands itself as an international, an inter- and transdisciplinary university. Did you notice this approach during your studies?
I think that is actually the thing I like about the PELP degree programme. It equips you with interdisciplinary knowledge and skills, which can be used for the modern day wicked problems, to solve them and to approach them. As we can see from the name of the programme – Public Economics, Law and Politics – it is not only one field of study it is actually three different but related subjects. This is something that fascinates me about the PELP programme and I think it helps you to know the problems very well, and to understand issues that exist in our society - from three different perspectives.

You said you started a Master’s because you want to somehow help your home country in the long run – do you feel like you have acquired some skills to do so?
Absolutely, yes. I have learned a lot of things, both from the programme and outside of it. I got to know different people from all over the world. It gives me the skills to communicate , to socialise with other people and build relationships with other people. And also to learn from their experiences, how they pursue their careers and how they approach things. So, absolutely, I have learned a lot of things and I strongly believe that it will help me to support the development process of my country.

Are you going back soon?
I have just submitted my Master’s dissertation two days ago. It was very hectic. I had to do a lot of work. But at the same time I have learned a lot of things. I did research on Afghanistan and corruption, which is a very challenging problem, in the public sector especially. So I did research on that. At the end of September my scholarship is finished and I am planning to go back to Afghanistan.

Can you think of any surprises during your studies, things you didn’t expected?
Well, to be honest, when I first came it was my first time in Europe and the Western World in general. I knew a lot about the Western World and Germany, but still a lot of things were new and at the same time interesting for me. The culture, how people live here, the people as such, the weather. The weather was a factor, which came to me as a big surprise. It was very cold in my first winter here! So yes, I had a lot of surprises on that side. But I got used to them very quickly and we became friends to each other. (laughing) And concerning my studies, I don’t think it was that harsh, I didn’t face any big challenges.

Do you think you would choose the PELP degree programme at Leuphana University again?
I would definitely go for this programme again. And that time it would be even better, because I’ll know how to start and how to cope with the programme. Because when I started I was kind of new to the system. It’s an interdisciplinary programme, it gives you a whole new perspective on each issue, so, yes of course I would suggest it to any person who would like to come in this direction, public policy and good governance. It is – by the way – the target of my DAAD scholarship. Yes, I think it a very good programme to be honest.

To whom might the PELP Masters programme be interesting?
Well, since it is an interdisciplinary programme, some people in my class faced mild problems in regard of other disciplines that they have not studied before. For example, if someone studied Law or Politics before, for them it was a little bit uneasy to get used to the subjects of Economics, because it’s more statistical, it’s more about numbers and maths. So I would suggest the students who would like to come here and have not studied Economics in their bachelor’s studies, to focus first of all on Economics. When you really want to study this programme, you need skills in Economics and Mathematics. If you studied Economics for example, then you should have an interest in Politics and Law, so you can get along with the programme. I think it won’t work if you hate one of these subjects – otherwise, it is a perfect programme.


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