Nino Fejzibegovic: 'I can only encourage people to just give it a go'
Name: Nino Fejzibegovic
Lives in: New York, USA (March to May 2016)
Country of origin: Bosnia and Herzegovina
Period in Germany: 2009 through to today (status as at March 2016)
Educational and research institutions: Heidelberg University, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship via the 'German Schools Abroad' programme
Occupation: Medical student in Heidelberg, March to May 2016 at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia University Medical Center, New York
With the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) at his side, medical student Nino Fejzibegovic has embarked on a remarkable career path. Back in 2009 already, the 19-year-old Bosnian was awarded a DAAD scholarship through the 'German Schools Abroad' programme. To date, this scholarship has taken him not only from Sarajevo to Heidelberg University but to Sweden, South Africa, Austria and Japan, too. And his next stop is Columbia University Medical Center.
Aspiring doctor with a deep commitment to his profession
The Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo and, as of 1 March 2016, the New York-Presbyterian Hospital at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York – Nino Fejzibegovic's professional resume features numerous prestigious names. And yet this 25-year-old student from Germany's Heidelberg University is still in the process of completing his year-long clinical internship required as part of his medical training. However, he is not intending to say his final goodbyes to the German university city of Heidelberg on the river Neckar just yet. ‘I'll be back in four months' time to finish my PhD and sit the third state examination,’ says this native of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 'In the meantime, Germany has come to feel like home – my second home. None of this would have been possible without the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).’
Nino Fejzibegovic not only has close ties to Heidelberg, where he is currently working at the National Center for Tumour Diseases (NTC), the same place he started studying in 2010. His academic career is also closely linked to Germany’s Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). In 2009, at the age of 19 and having achieved the top mark of 1.0 in his school-leaving examinations at grammar school in Sarajevo, DAAD offered him a scholarship via its 'German Schools Abroad' programme. This programme gives particularly talented high-school graduates in foreign countries the chance to complete a full-time course of study in Germany. 'Back then I wasn't aware the scholarship would have such a wholesale impact on my life,' says the young man in retrospect.
Nino Fejzibegovic has also grown particularly fond of the German language. Having already started to learn German at the age of six at primary school, he sat the German Language Diploma – Deutsche Sprachdiplom (DSD) – once he moved up to grammar school, again passing with flying colours ('excellent'). 'I like the German language; it's very complex,' he says. The importance of foreign languages as a door opener to different cultures was something his parents had instilled into him at an early age. Today, he is proficient in German, English, French and Swedish – in addition to his mother tongues of Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian.
'I can only encourage people to just give it a go'
Heidelberg was Nino Fejzibegovic's first choice of university in Germany. Also because he already knew the city, having taken part in a school exchange project. The fact that it actually worked out was, he believes, a stroke of luck. 'The university has an excellent reputation, and I really like the international atmosphere and the student life there,' he says. His favourite place is the Neckarwiese – a kilometre stretch of green along the river's north bank. 'In summer students meet up there for sport, for a barbecue or simply to relax. It's the perfect place to go to recover from a stressful day at university.' He has never had any regrets about his decision to come to Germany. 'I can only encourage people to just give it a go and to see and do something different,' he says about this 'unbelievably positive time in his life.'
This courage to embrace new ideas remains a defining feature of Nino Fejzibegovic's career path to this day. He has not only completed numerous internships in hospitals in South Africa, Austria, Japan and Sweden, but is also deeply committed to social projects. He volunteers with the Red Cross EU Office and is a member of the organisation 'Helfer ohne Grenzen' (Helpers without Borders). Furthermore, he is actively involved in the 'EU Young Thinkers' team initiated by the French-German Youth Office (FGYO). 'Volunteering has significantly broadened by horizons,' he says, explaining that it gives him a chance to help people in need alongside an opportunity to meet interesting people from all over the world.
In 2013, Fejzibegovic's dedication and talents came to the attention of the Gesellschaft der Freunde der Universität Heidelberg (Society of the Friends of Heidelberg University), which promptly agreed to support him, announcing proudly that, 'This young man is just one of many examples proving that an investment in education is always a good decision.' And this investment in education is continuing to pay off: Nino Fejzibegovic is the first foreign student at the University of Heidelberg to get a place on the exchange programme with Columbia University in New York. 'I'm really looking forward to seeing what life is like in New York City. The experience of working in a hospital at one of the best US American universities will be out of this world,' says the medical student. As of 2017, he aims to complete his specialist training in Heidelberg.