Mika, 24, Economist, Model, Munich, Germany

“My international experience helped me to become a citizen of the world and made me more open to new cultures, people, and knowledges.”

Hi, my name is Mika. I’m currently doing a Masters at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and work part-time as a professional model.

My international adventures began at the age 16, when I went to the US on an exchange program for high school students from the CIS countries – FLEX (Future Leaders Exchange). That year was unforgettable. Throughout the time I was in a typical American environment that is quite disconnected from the rest of the world. I got so used to the life of an American high school student that it took several weeks upon my return to Kazakhstan to adapt to a completely different flow of life again. I really enjoyed America, but at home everything seemed brighter and merrier; and yet at some point, I decided, that it was time to discover new places and also get a good degree.

Thanks to the efforts put into learning German at school, I passed all the necessary language exams and soon got accepted to TUM – one of Europe’s leading technical universities. At TUM I chose to study a “Management and Technology” program, a very popular field of study in Europe at the moment that allows one to develop as an economist with with the focus on engineering or natural sciences.

In the beginning it was not easy, but I quickly got involved into the studies and developed the engineering thinking. Throughout the undergraduate studies, I worked extremely hard, spending all my free time in the library. If previously I was interested in literature, art, human sciences and economics, the life in Germany to some extent changed my perspective on life and my interests.

Specialists with the similar profile to mine serve as a bridge between the business and industry. For example, if a manager’s task is to reduce costs, to run a successful project or to use resources efficiently, he must understand the process behind the product. Without technical understanding it is quite hard to make informed management decisions. Considering that German economy is based on manufacturing and engineering, the demand for the specialists with degrees as mine constantly grows.

When I first came here, I was amazed how easy and rational it was to study science in German: it is the language in which the majority of scientific works has been issued as well as many laws of physics were proved. The local scientific culture developed within the centuries-old academic traditions, and thanks to the permanent commitment of the university system to innovation and modernization, all of this takes a new unique shape, which helps the young generation to successfully apply different methods in their future discoveries, whether in science, business or the corporate world.

In fact, studying here involves much more than just learning the subject. In Germany you also become very disciplined, gain effective time management skills, the ability to prioritize tasks, and you also learn not be scared of challenges – our abilities are limitless! This approach is an essential part of the life here: everything goes according to its plan, everything has its order. Obviously, there are downsides of that, but that’s another story.

Most importantly, what should be avoided during the studies as well as in many other things is self-doubt or fear. You can manage everything if you understand what is the amount of time and energy you need to study this or that material and plan your classes and work schedule ahead.

Currently I’m doing a master’s degree and still living in Munich but I’m often travelling elsewhere because of work. Combining the studies and work is possible and is actually positively seen. During my time here, I’ve already worked in a variety of areas while still studying: I did internships in three different corporations in marketing, power supply and telecommunications … and a couple of years ago I accidently set my foot on the modeling world.

One day I met an amateur photographer who invited me to participate in his photoshooting. He then introduced me to his contacts in the local modeling agencies and soon my schedule was topped up with castings and shootings. Of course, the selection criteria in the modelling world are different to other industries. While making your selection process based on people’s racial features or their appearance is taboo in many industries, in the modelling world, as they say in marketing, it’s your USP (unique selling point). However, it’s worth noting that not only the appearance and charisma, but also the desire to work and develop, endurance and ability to get along with different personalities play an important role in this business.

Mika on the cover of a German magazine (photo from her personal archive)

Mika on the cover of a German magazine (photo from her personal archive)

European clients often see me as an Asian or a mixed-race girl; some people find my appearance very interesting. Photographers and stylists often ask me, what the people in Kazakhstan look like and what race do we belong to. It’s a pleasure to say that in my country I can meet representative of different ethnic groups and that interracial marriages make an incredible impact on the appearance of the locals. A red-haired Asian? Why Not?! Kazakhstan’s geographical location results in many spheres of everyday life: we have close ties to both Western and Eastern cultures and are very open to new things, in my opinion.

Fashion industry is quite well developed in Germany. The clients always have new proposals for modeling agencies, and brands such as, for example, Hugo Boss or Mustang have their head offices in German cities. There are also plenty of fashion start-ups, which have quite interesting business models, and may become well-known outside Germany soon. Most of the residents of Munich prefer famous fashion brands, whereas Berliners dress very differently and prefer young unknown designers. I love Berlin for its alternative lifestyle.

Once I was invited for a fashion project in Cape Town, the second largest city in terms of population in South Africa. I immediately told my family, packed my bag and ended up in a cozy beach town for a few months. The castings and shootings there were very different from the European ones. Such trips require huge time investments, but reward you with incredible feelings, new international friends and entirely new approaches to the creative work.

Photo from her personal archive

Photo from personal archive

So, thanks to modeling and, partly, my own initiatives, I often find myself in different cities, learn with great interest the local lifestyle and meet new people. I sincerely believe that absolutely everyone can teach you plenty of interesting things, that’s why I often agree to new initiatives and adventures.

Life in the West shapes the person as a free individuum. My international experience helped me to become a citizen of the world and made me more open to new cultures, people, and knowledges.

So far, I enjoy this way of life, while I can travel, plan the curriculum at my convenience and meet so many different personalities. I will be extremely glad to meet like-minded Kazakhs, let’s connect! Email me or follow me on Instagram @mikatude.

PS. I’ve recently created a blog where I write a blog about the most interesting and exciting things that happen to me. I look forward to your visit to: www.mikatude.wordpress.com!


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