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Portraitbild von eLearning Academy Studentin Sandra van der Linde

Experience reports, Studying  ·  April 19 2022

Study abroad without attendance – Interview with distance learning student Sandra van der Linde

Sandra van der Linde is German, lives and works in Oxford, UK. She has been enrolled at the Austrian University of Applied Sciences Burgenland since June 2020 and is completing the master’s course in marketing communication in the English-language specialization “Cross-media Marketing Communication” at the eLearning Academy for Communication. We asked her for an interview to find out why she chose an English course despite being a native German speaker. She talks about the challenges of distance learning alongside a full-time job and how she networks with her fellow students despite being 1,000 km away.

You are German, but you live and work in Oxford. So you are a wanderer between places, times and also languages?!

Yes, I have always been very interested in other cultures. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in International Management and can already look back on a correspondingly broad range of international experience: Switzerland, China, the USA and the UK were my major stations.

A few years ago, professional opportunities brought me to Oxford – and I have since found a new home here. Since 2016, I have been working for the internationally active Siemens Healthineers AG, a listed manufacturer of medical technology. I am currently working from Oxford for the headquarters in Germany, I am a Project Procurement Manager and in my role I mediate between the purchasing departments in the different countries and the project business with our customers.

You have therefore perfected the intellectual and professional code-switching between English and German. You are also writing your master’s thesis on “Digitization in Strategic Purchasing” in English and are already in the final spurt.

Yes, the countdown is on. I have firmly resolved to submit my master’s thesis by April and then to hold my defensio in June (note: defense of the master’s thesis and final exam). Then I will have completed my studies within two years.

Along with a full-time job and various other challenges like moving, changing jobs, Corona, and the like, that’s a really good average. Speaking of cut – your grade point average is outstanding! What’s your secret?

(laughs) Thank you very much. That’s a good question. It definitely takes a lot of self-motivation, discipline and proactivity. I’m passionate about effective communication, like to actively shape new developments and work on ongoing improvements.

Tell us when and why this online study came into play?

Previously, I had considered studying at a university in Oxford with my employer, but would have had to be released several times a week during working hours for classroom lectures there. However, I wanted to remain independent and study flexibly – and also really choose a specialization that interested me and that I enjoyed. But because I would have had to commute to London or Germany for the exams with other providers, I opted for this 100% distance learning program.

And why this particular subject, this specialization?

In my work environment, there is always the realization that problems could have been avoided by one thing: Better communication. I was also interested in learning more about the targeted use of digital media, so the decision to take this course was an obvious one. I didn’t want to do a pure marketing degree, but the special mix of PR, marketing and communication appealed to me. I think you can use this knowledge in any area and in any company, not just in a marketing department. So I can use my acquired know-how in many different ways in the future – and that’s a very big advantage!

Studentin Sandra von der Linde beim Studieren für Ihren Masterlehrgang "Cross-media Marketing Communciation"

What do you tell interested people who are still hesitant to take the course?

With this online Master’s degree program, you don’t have any lectures and can organize yourself well. For me, this works very well, even though I know from my own experience that it is not always easy to find time and self-motivation.

In the beginning, I always studied two hours before work, but with the job change and the time difference, it wasn’t so easy anymore. Now I study more in the evenings and on weekends.

I think if you are good at planning and place a lot of value on flexibility, then this study program is definitely the right one. At first I had a lot of respect for this decision, and it’s not without its difficulties, but now I know it’s doable and manageable.

What do you recommend to your fellow students who are just starting their studies?

It’s important to proactively seek help when you need it, whether it’s with scheduling or something else. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone from your private environment or the student advisory service – you study flexibly, but not alone.

So I would also recommend getting involved in the Facebook and WhatsApp groups if possible. When I started studying, it even occurred to me at one point, “Am I the only one studying this?” I was in my little bubble and there was little mandatory interaction. Now there is much more interaction with my fellow students and we help each other out when someone gets stuck.

How does this work in the FB group? What happens there?

You can ask questions and exchange experiences. For example, if you are faced with a difficult module assignment, you can get good food for thought from your fellow students. Sometimes it helps just to exchange ideas about the structure.

In addition, there are also voluntary webinars with the lecturers, and through such webinars I sometimes exchange ideas privately with students whom I now know a little better. But everyone is also free to discuss particularly interesting ideas or theories with the other students via Facebook or Whatsapp.

Studentin Sandra van der Linde beim Spazieren gehen mit ihrem Hund

Keyword theories. What content particularly excites you?

I was very enthusiastic about the module on storytelling. I even took another online course on the topic afterwards to deepen my knowledge and improve the practical implementation. It is fascinating to see how we can move and inspire people with the right communication. I also found crisis management, almost as a counterpoint, super interesting. Crisis situations can arise unexpectedly at any time. To be better prepared for them and to be able to relax the situation again with a calm head is an invaluable skill in my eyes.

Finally, can you give us some highlights of your Master’s degree program?

The creation of a communication concept with Ms. Hansen was really great. In this module there was a lot of exchange with the lecturer and with other students and I found it very exciting that everyone did something different. This also showed me how diverse these theories and models are applicable. I took the module after a little more than half of the study time and could clearly see in it what I had actually already learned and how I had developed.


Interested in doing a Master’s degree with us?

Do you live and work abroad and would like to complete your Master’s degree in English at a renowned Austrian university? The online master’s program in marketing communication at the FH Burgenland at the eLearning Academy makes it possible!

You study 100% online – independent of time and location. There are no attendance phases, deadlines or exam dates. You decide when and where you study, write module assignments or take exams. With us you study at the pulse of time.

You can find more information about the Master’s degree program here. Or register directly for the next online info-event. In addition to a virtual tour of the online campus, we will show you how easy it is to study online. Secure your place now! We are looking forward to meeting you!

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