For some of the VSU students taking part in international exchange programmes, the next term is going to be quite a change, as they will have to adapt to a different environment, a different culture, and, what's more, to a different education system. But they will not just study and practice their language skills. They will also represent our university and help to form its international image.
To make it all easier for these students, we've asked those who are studying in Germany this term, to tell us about their first days abroad.
Humboldt University (Berlin)
– “I'm really grateful to our university and to the Faculty of History for giving me the chance to study at the Humboldt University for a full academic term. It's great to be here! Of course, I've got to get used to many things such as the dormitory for international students, and various types of public transport (underground, above-ground subway, trams, buses, and trains). But there is a special introductory course for the international students in the very beginning, which helps a lot. In my research, I am now focusing on the Russian immigrants in Berlin in the XX century. So now I'm trying to "feel" Berlin, see how it lives, and live its life myself. When I walk through Charlottenburg, the region where most of the Russian immigrants lived in the 20s, I try to imagine all the meetings and evenings held here by various Russian artists, writers, and musicians. Studying here in Berlin, I also have a chance to go to various archives and libraries and find the necessary materials that are not available back in Voronezh. I hope to find out more about the life of the Russian immigrants here, and make others aware of it. I really don't want all those people to be forgotten. And I will be happy if I can do something that really matters” - said Lyudmila Karebina, a third-year student at the Faculty of History.
Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg
– “With all its welcoming parties, free public transport, discounts in cafés and theatres, and sports facilities of various types (fitness, yoga, dancing, skiing, swimming, etc.), Halle is a wonderful place for students. Here you can meet students from all over the world, and, apart from language practice, it's a good chance to learn more about new cultures as well as to look at your own culture from a different point of view. And, of course, the university itself is great. There are some problems with the Internet connection here, which makes it a bit difficult, but on the whole studying here is great. Every student has their personal accounts on the university's Internet portal where they get all the study materials, their home-tasks, and information about classes. It's really interesting to study here, especially to meet people and listen to their stories about how they have come to be here. Some of them moved from Russia, so they speak both Russian and German fluently. Others moved when they were little kids and haven't learned Russian, so now, when the family come together and speak Russian, they don't understand a single word, although they'd love to. Some of them have been studying Russian for two months, others – for half a year” – Sofia Senchenkova, a second-year student at the Faculty of Philology told us.
– “We were very much impressed by the architecture in Halle – every street here is so beautiful. What you really have to get used to is that all the shops are closed by 8 p.m. And they are also closed on Sundays. On the whole, people here are very friendly and helpful. The education system is quite different and you see it from the start. The good thing is, it is very easy to use public transport here. There are quite comfortable trains coming every 10-15 minutes according to a fixed schedule, so you can plan your day and be sure that you won't be late because of public transport. I've been here just for two weeks now, but I'm already enchanted by this city” - said Sofia Trepalina, a third-year student at the Faculty of Romance and Germanic Philology.
– “People here are very friendly and welcoming. You feel that they really want to help. Talking about the education system, it is quite different here from the one we have in Russia. The first week here was really exhausting as we had to set out all the formal issues, the documents, etc., as well as to choose the classes we would like to attend. And I'd say the teaching methods are quite different here. The teacher sends out all the materials to students before the lecture, and the lecture itself is then interactive – the teacher communicates with students, and not merely reads and dictates. There are a large number of international students here, and they often hold various parties and events, so it's difficult to get bored” - said Ekaterina Drobysheva, a second-year student at the Faculty of Economics.
International exchange programmes are of great value for students. A person having lived abroad for some time (even six months) is considered to be more stable and stress-resistant, more mobile, sociable and stereotype-free, which gives this person better employment opportunities. Today it's not enough to have a degree to get a good job. Employers are also interested in your professional skills, working experience, and personal qualities. Speaking a foreign language fluently can also become a great advantage, so studying abroad can be useful both in personal and professional ways.