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The First Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree in African Studies

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Barbara Igler

Barbara Igler

Hello! My name is Barbara and I was born and raised in Vienna, Austria. I am deeply in love with my hometown and identify myself as Viennese through and through!

I think the foundation for my interest in different social and intercultural topics lies in my fortune of traveling with my parents starting from a very young age. Through this, I had the opportunity to get insights into a variety of cultures which later also influenced my decision on what to study. After finishing high school I had the chance to take a gap year for which I decided to do a voluntary social year in a shelter for unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Syria. This first work experience in an intercultural field and all the challenges that came with it shaped me a lot and helped me to grow on a personal level as well as determine my path in social sciences. During this time, I also had the chance to travel a lot and engage in different volunteering projects.

In October 2017, I started studying at the University of Vienna and decided to do two undergraduate studies in parallel, a bachelor’s programme in Cultural and Social Anthropology and a bachelor’s programme in African Studies. My focus in Cultural and Social Anthropology has mostly been on development cooperation, unequal power relations between the Global North and the Global South, and different migration processes and related issues of ethnicity and identity. For African Studies my focus was on African history and society. I completed both studies in September 2021. During these four years, I have already learned what it means to think, work and learn in an interdisciplinary way.

Following my undergraduate studies, I took some time to do internships in different fields of my various interests. I started at a social business based in Vienna that helps ex-prisoners, migrants and single parents to (re)enter the world of work. I also did an internship at the International Department of Caritas Austria in which I helped to coordinate different development projects and humanitarian field trips to Ukraine and Moldova. The last couple of months before joining EIMAS I spent with expanding my knowledge in the fields of Gender and Diversity by focusing on gender-neutral language, especially in work environments for which I have organised and held workshops in various companies.

Besides my academic interests, I am volunteering in different projects such as “Buddies for refugees” at Volkshilfe Wien in which I accompany and support young migrants in building their lives in the diaspora and help them with challenges in their everyday life. This also helps me to strengthen my intercultural sensitivity.

I applied for EIMAS because I thought this programme would be an enriching academic opportunity and also help me grow personally. The whole structure of EIMAS looked very appealing to me and I always knew that studying abroad would give me the possibility to broaden my horizon and learn a lot from my colleagues on a personal and academic level. I hope to explore Africa’s impact as a global player in an interconnected world as well as learn how to deal with eurocentrism and ethnocentrism. Rethinking current perceptions to find answers to global issues is important and in demand, especially in international institutions and non-governmental organisations in which I see my future.

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