IEE Newsletter

MADM: My unexpected, kind and rewarding MADM experience

Pamela Cruz talks about her experience as an MADM student during the pandemic

My MADM experience probably started off quite different as other cohorts, with such unprecedented, challenging and difficult times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the uncertainty and hardships we all endured as a collective, the stress the MADM program was upon us, and the craziness of life itself, these past two years, has definitely been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of my life.

One of my dreams was to study a master programme in development studies abroad. Not only for the purpose of learning from interesting lectures and professors, but for the sake of building friendships with people who come from different continents, backgrounds, and professional experiences.

Quite frankly, I had never heard of the MADM programme when I was starting to search for academic programs. One day, a friend of mine introduced me to the DAAD-EPOS scholarship and encouraged me to look into the programs and give it a shot. After submitting my application, I was thrilled to learn that I was one of the lucky ones to be granted a scholarship, and I will be eternally grateful for this life changing opportunity.

My walk into the MADM started without expectations since the pandemic came with such short notice, forcing us to suddenly stop in our tracks, find new ways to see life, adjust, and hope for the best. In the beginning, I was a bit scared that the program was going to be cancelled, and I could imagine that my colleagues feared that too. Looking back, I can say that everything happened the way it was supposed to, and I am fortunate enough to have experienced this life journey with such incredible people along the way.

MADM First meetings
First meetings (photo: private)

In this regard, I want to take advantage of this invitation to write to give thanks to the admin team, student assistants, program coordinators, supervisors and board of directors for giving us a shot to keep this intake alive and going. And also to my colleagues who gave their best efforts to remain in the group with us and who could not continue due to the pressing times and obstacles enhanced by this pandemic.

MADM Coffee day
First coffee day with the girls (photo: private)

The main characteristics of my MADM journey can be summarized with kindness, lots of food and coffee, joyful laughter, and unconditional support. My first two months of preparation as an online MADM student were bumpy and full of trying every day to learn German in the Intensiv Deutschkurs. As each day passed, we slowly started to land in our new home: Papagaienhaus in Bochum. I must admit, this place has a reputation on its own, very underground for my liking and a great ice breaker for starting a conversation with all the tales that have happened in that place. Paps as we nicely call it was home for the first months and a smart move from the IEE to have some of us live under the same roof during an international lockdown. I think that was how our cohort became a strong group, helping and supporting each other while building a home in a foreign land, and in a place such as the Paps. Those who know, know (even it is an interesting place to start research there for a Master Thesis if someone is interested).

MADM Aachen trip
Aachen trip during summer time (photo: private)

Autumn was nice. I was in awe watching the seasons change and amused by the very handy Semesterticket that took us around NRW, and the BahnCard that let us travel with discounts throughout the country. I tried to take advantage between the hustle of classes to get to know a bit more of Germany and the little towns I have seen in pictures. During my whole time in Germany, I had the opportunity to wander the streets of Dortmund, Essen, Witten, Hattingen, Köln, Hamburg, Erlangen, Pottenstein, Bamberg, Bayreuth, Nuremberg, Koblenz, the little towns along the Rhine River, Berlin, and Munich (that was before and after strict lockdown measures I must say).

MADM Hiking at Drachenburg
Hiking at Drachenburg (photo: private)

My first official lockdown started in the 8th floor of the Paps due to Corona in three of our friends. Now that I recall these times, it was very challenging to care for others while attending to thesis work, but I guess it made us come closer with more memories to share with our grandkids. We are survivors. That prepared us for the real lockdown across the country that started from late October 2020 until June 2021.

MADM Tacos nightWe had to create happiness in unexpected ways: underground parties to share international food which was our own version of team building, the Bochum version of the World Cup playing soccer before the Polizei saw us, hikes into the endless routes Germany’s forests had to offer since we were banned from travelling abroad, playing in snow, coffee tastings at home, learning new methods with my dear friend Rodrigo, and the MADM version of master chef with my international family - with dishes such as Shumaila’s lentils, Chenai’s salads, Josúe’s gallo pinto, and Pedro’s veggie deliciousness, and so many more.

MADM Internship at KfWThe intensity of the courses was not subdued by the COVID-19 pandemic, nor a German lockdown. We were supposed to deal with all the craziness of recurrent existential crisis among some of us, while delivering on all our exams, essays and thesis work. During spring 2021, all of us got the chance to join an organization to do our internship, I was lucky to get one in KfW-DEG were I wish I had more time to learn from their interesting work.

MADM PME class students
PME class, several students (photo: private)

MADM PME class presentation
PME class presentation (photo: private)

Then summer came, lockdowns were no more, and our only face-to-face class was PME with Britta. It was very nice to have a real classroom experience before some of us went away for field research. In my case, I stayed in Germany since Corona didn’t allow me to travel back to Mexico. So I did what I love the most, travelled around Europe visiting friends while doing my research online after months of lockdown.

MADM With Anu in Harlem
Anu and me in Harlem (photo: private)

It was indeed stressful and hard during the 20 months of the MADM programme, but as my dear friend Anu told me once "we progress slowly through learning from nice and not so nice things that life throws at us, but its good. Its always a step forward."

MADM Snow day with Pedro
Snow day with Pedro (photo: private)

MADM Xmas market
Xmas market (photo: private)
I am happy to see that all of our cohort graduated, but what I am most proud of is the community and family we built together. From this unexpected experience during the MADM programme, I have been able to make many stories and memories I hold close to my heart. A part of me will always cherish Germany and its wonders. Thanks to the MADM programme, I got to learn, explore, and de-construct ideas; and build friendships for life.

Cruz MartinezPamela Cruz
MADM Student 2020-2022

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