Master of the Universe, or saying goodbye to student life forever

You’ll probably notice I haven’t blogged in a while, and as bad as I feel about not sharing fun travel stories and photos with you, it was for a very good reason, which was…

I was writing my master thesis!


On Nov 30, 2016, I officially submitted my thesis for the Erasmus Mundus Master in Journalism, Media and Globalization: “The role of technology in the 2015 refugee crisis: How young refugees use media.” It was 84 pages.

My classmates and I before handing in our freshly-printed theses. Photo: Bettina Zbinden

In my research, I interviewed six asylum seekers under the age of 30 who had been living in Germany for less than two years at the time of the interviews. I found out that although some people have criticized refugees for owning smartphones, the smartphone is an invaluable resource. It enables access to information, geographic navigation, interpersonal communication, and is often the only reliable source of access to media that refugees have. Digital media can be used to facilitate integration as migrants consume media of the host country in order to learn about the culture and learn the language, but only if refugees have access to it, which is why refugee housing facilities should install Wi-Fi. There are dozens of digital resources for refugees available, from language learning classes on YouTube to apps with information on filing an asylum claim in Germany to websites which translate news from the German media into Arabic, but refugees are often not aware of these, so more of an effort should be made to promote these resources. If you’d like to read my thesis yourself, contact me and I’d be happy to send you a copy.

So what’s next? First, I’m remaining enrolled at the university until the end of the semester (which is in March) while I wait for my thesis to be graded. I’ll continue working part-time in my student job and I’ll use this time to apply for grown-up jobs in Hamburg and Berlin.When I de-register from the university, my residence permit will change from a student visa to a job seeker’s visa, and from that moment on I have 18 months to find an employer who can sponsor a visa, or else make enough money being a freelancer, until the Day of Reckoning  when they decide whether I’ll be allowed to stay in Germany or not. I don’t have any plans to permanently return to the U.S., although if I cannot get a visa that is probably what will happen.

In the mean time, I’m excited to have more time to keep blogging here, and to start writing more for Indie Republik, a culture blog/magazine I’ve gotten involved in. Stay tuned!


3 thoughts on “Master of the Universe, or saying goodbye to student life forever

  1. Pingback: The view from the ivory tower – Following the Wanderlust

    1. Alison Haywood

      Aww, thank you! I probably won’t get my grades or have my degree in hand for another few months, but you can call me “Master” anytime 😉

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