Humans of Jacobs: Abdullah Shah

Humans of Jacobs: Abdullah Shah

In this month’s conversation, we have Muhammad Abdullah Shah from Pakistan with us. Abdullah came to Jacobs University in 2019 and is set to graduate in June 2022. He majors in Industrial Engineering and Management (IEM).

How was your childhood?

My father was in the army, so we moved around a lot within Pakistan and having family spread out across the country also gave me the opportunity of exploring Pakistan. Our financials also improved as I grew older, so I have also seen different levels of Pakistani society, which gave me a deeper understanding of different types of lifestyles and social structures within my country.

Tell us about your hometown and how it differs from Bremen.

I am from Muzaffarabad in Kashmir, but I spent the latter half of my adolescence in Lahore, Pakistan. Lahore is way more bustling than Bremen and the food culture is beyond anything I have experienced in Bremen. Although, the more “chill vibes” of Bremen give it its own charm and I tend to miss the peace when I am away from the city for longer periods of time.

Tell us what about the journey that lead you to Jacobs University.

Pakistan is a majority Muslim country dominated by the school of thought that comes with that. Being more liberal made it easier for me to find similarly minded people here in Bremen, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any back home because I know some amazing individuals who match my “vibe”. I came to Jacobs because I wanted to study in Europe and experience a different culture. The UK has a large Pakistani diaspora and I have found that it is easy to stick to what you know, I wouldn’t have tried meeting different kinds of people if I went to a place like the UK and would have stuck to my countrymen. The level of exposure that I experienced at Jacobs has been eye and mind opening. I chose my major because of Professor Stanislav. I initially came to Jacobs with CS as my major but quickly realized that I lacked the passion for the field. I had IEM as an elective and the first-year lab with Stanislav made me have a deeper appreciation for the field. This naturally made me switch to IEM and I haven’t looked back since. There is a part of me that wishes I went to the US but the state of democracy, public health insurance and paying exuberant tuition fees didn’t sit right with me. So, no I wouldn’t change my decision.

Tell us about your future plans.

Germany has amazing labor laws, after working to get my mandatory internship credits I was really impressed by the work culture. I plan on staying in Germany for the foreseeable future and even want to get a master’s in Digital Innovation Management and Informatics here. I only plan on going back to my country in intervals because I believe I can do more good by working here than back home, but opinions can change and the prospect of having my own business within Pakistan also interests me a lot.

Tell us about the friendships you’ve formed at Jacobs.

I have formed deeper connections with the people I have met here, as they are more mature in nature and not based off familiarity but preferences and acceptance. I can truly say I have made lifelong connections and not just on LinkedIn.

Do you plan on investing in your home country - if yes, how do you plan on doing that?

I already invest heavily in the Pakistani stock market as I believe it is an emerging economy with strong potential. Maybe a clothing business down the line but other than that I haven’t thought about it much.

Do you have any regrets in life - if yes, what would you have differently?

The visa process was frankly ridiculous. I had to take a gap year because of the visa situation and the German embassy must get better and more efficient in Pakistan. Other than that Jacobs has been a massive help with settling down. The administration has helped with registrations, housing and resident permit appointments. The language was a problem at the start but after getting to know some Germans it became way smoother and now, I have picked up on a lot of German myself. Definitely! It has been an eye-opening experience for me. All my life I had told myself that studying and working to be successful gives a person happiness. But my time here made me realize that happiness comes from the experiences and connections you make along the way. I have also become open to a lot of different things that I would never have even thought about before. I wish I had gone on my fitness journey earlier, I love working out, climbing and running. I also try out different sports to see if I can find another lifelong hobby, but I only started 3 years ago. I can only imagine what my experience level would be had I started when I was 14 or 15.

What suggestions would you give - if any - to your juniors at Jacobs?

It is easy to get caught up in the negativity of everything and complain about things but try to find positives in everything and approach every situation with positivity instead of dread. Everyone needs to see that the way things work in their country isn’t the only way for things to work. Living in a foreign environment gives you a global perspective and a deeper understanding and appreciation for the world. And we need a global community to tackle all the global issues we are facing. It has been a really good experience; I have had some problems with how the university treats social issues - silence isn’t neutrality, it is supporting the status quo - but the people I have met and everything I have learned far outweigh any negative experiences.



Humans of Jacobs: Abdullah Shah