Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Thamina, I was born and raised in Munich, Germany. I actually started my college career at Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich but I had always wanted to study abroad in the U.S. for one year. I applied to a couple of study abroad programs and got accepted by Duke, Cornell, Columbia, and Harvard. I chose Duke in the end and arrived in Durham, NC in August of 2014. However, after one semester I realized I didn't want to leave, so applied for transfer admission, got accepted and will be graduating from Duke in May 2017.
What inspired you to choose your course?
I studied Political Science at my previous school back in Germany because I thought I was going to end up in journalism. However, at Duke I have been exposed to a lot of great opportunities in the entrepreneurship space, which is why I wanted to explore innovation and tech more. I am really interested in social media and digital marketing, which is why I believe that my combination of media studies and innovation & entrepreneurship served me well in the end. Could I go back in time, I would not have chosen Political Science as my major. .
What was the application process like? Do you have any advice for prospective applicants?
I'm not going to lie, the application process is exhausting and time-intensive. If you don't have the stamina and strong will to invest a couple of months if not even a year, don't do it. Most countries don't have a lot of resources and for most of the time, you'll have to figure out things on your own. Sometimes, cultural and language barriers can be challenging as well. My advice: Reach out to teachers to ask for recommendation letters early on (as in 6 months before the actual deadline) and provide them with as much guidance and help as possible. Create an extensive to-do list for every university you want to apply to. While most applications have the same requirements, some schools may ask you for additional paperwork or complimentary essays. Lastly, be true to yourself when you're writing your essays. Admissions officers are really good at figuring out if someone is genuine or fake. I know this sounds all very intimidating but I can tell you, in the end, it'll be worth it.
What has your experience been like so far?
I have never been as happy as I am at Duke. Ever since I stepped foot on this gorgeous campus, everything finally seems to make sense to me. The workload is very heavy but as someone who loves to be challenged and to learn every single day, this is the perfect place. I have developed incredibly meaningful relationships with my classmates, professors, supervisors, and Duke alumni. Moreover, I have gained so many different perspectives I never could have gained in Germany. Plus, as someone who is both into academics/professional development AND sports, Duke is as good as it can get. Our men's basketball program is one of the best in the country and attending almost every single game has been one of my favorite college memories. Duke has allowed me to become the best version of myself that I can possibly be and for that I will always be grateful.
Why are your top tips for other students?
Start early! I started doing my research about a year before I applied. Don't underestimate how long it can take to get all the paperwork done. Plus, if you have to take the SAT/ACT and/or the TOEFL, you might want to start even earlier than that because if you get a bad score, you probably have to take it again. Plan for all eventualities!