Thanks to the internet, we are all globally connected and all doors are open to us. And we too open our doors to applicants from all over the world. International and English-taught degree programmes in particular provide students who are not from a German-speaking country with the opportunity to pursue further education. Eiken Nurcelli is one of them and explains her route from Albania to FH JOANNEUM.
In 2019, Eiken Nurcelli first applied to the Master’s degree programme in Content Strategy at FH JOANNEUM but she wasn’t successful. But there was never any question of giving up for her: so in 2020, she applied again and this time was accepted. She is now in her second semester although her journey here was somewhat bumpy.
The route to FH JOANEUM
Eiken comes from Tirana (Albania), where she studied Computer Sciences. But she has always known that her interests lay more in something creative like web design and content management. She became aware of FH JOANNEUM through a friend and saw the selection of courses on offer. The number of courses taught in English at FH JOANNEUM is increasing steadily and currently there are seven on offer. She quickly opted for the Master’s programme in Content Strategy: this combines her passion for online and web content as well as being the first academic course in Europe to train students to become first-rate content strategists. The course is part-time to allow students to study and have a job at the same time.
But back to the start: once Eiken had found her dream course, the long and arduous sea of bureaucracy began. “Because I don’t come from an EU country, I had to get all my documents and certificates certified. This took over a month. I also had to prove that I have B2-level English and so I sat the IELS exam. In September 2019, I moved to Graz but I wasn’t able to stay longer than three months because I didn’t have a visa – so there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between Tirana and Graz. In May 2020, I finally received my visa and have been living in Graz since then,” she explains.
Getting to know other international students
Everything was new; the people, the language, and the culture. Eiken first had to get used to Austria. To give her a little help at the start, the International Relations office at FH JOANNEUM offers various courses and events. The selection is primarily aimed at international students. “There were around 30 people from all over the world including Spain, India, Canada and the USA and we had the opportunity to explore the university and region together. None of us could speak German so we spent the first three weeks taking a crash course in German,” she says. Excursions, meet & greets and various intercultural evenings took place and were held to promote community and internationalisation.
As regards internationalisation: the Content Strategy course also has a strong international focus. Whether Germany, the Netherlands, England, Italy or Syria – students from all over the world make their way to Graz. “I love our group and our team spirit. We work on projects together and help one another out,” says Eiken. The teachers too are scattered across the world and are made up of experts primarily from the USA and Great Britain as well as local pioneers. But what exactly is meant by Content Strategy?
Content is queen
The name of the Master’s course indicates roughly what it is about: specifically it is about the methodological and strategic planning and development of web and online content. Issues such as content analysis, content management, UX design, storytelling, social media and marketing are addressed. “I am actually a coder and had very little to do with text and other content before. But I always knew that I wanted to work creatively and since I already had experience in web design and marketing, the course suits me perfectly,” says Eiken.
She has been working as a freelancer for the last five years and is now working on the launch of her own small social media agency. It was therefore important to her to be able to combine the course with her job. “It is often stressful when I have to work late into the evening on projects but I know it is worth it. This semester, I will remember content audits in particular – they have caused me many a sleepless night,” she says. Eiken is certain that the hard work will be pay off. She recently started a new job as a social media strategist. “The knowledge obtained during the course is very helpful with this because the examples are largely derived from practical settings and since this is my first proper job in Austria, I am very pleased to be able to directly apply what I have learnt,” she says.
In her private life, for Eiken everything also revolves around the right content: she has over 10,000 followers on Instagram and became an influencer overnight. “When the pandemic started, a friend and I were bored. We started to take photos in various outfits here in Graz. My Instagram account grew each day and I can honestly say I never expected that. I do not see myself as an influencer or blogger but I understand how social media and marketing strategies work and I naturally apply this knowledge,” she says.
When all of the content from her course, job and private life become too much, Eiken knows what to do. “I like going to the gym, but my favourite way to relax is by doing puzzles. I enjoy it because it feels good to not think about anything and only to concentrate on that one thing,” she explains.
A glimpse into the future
Eiken very much wants to stay in Austria and hopes to find a fantastic job in the long-term and/or make a success of her own business. FH JOANNEUM has given her the foundation of knowledge she needs for this. “I will always remember FH JOANNEUM as a place where I grew on a private and personal level and became a Content Strategy expert”.
You can find more stories of our testimonials here. If you want to learn more about Eiken and the study programs at the Department of Media & Design, follow us on Instagram: Here you can get live insights from our students into their everyday studies.