Our university has diverse and strong educational and cultural ties with leading international universities. Our students do internships in universities all over the world. We got in touch with our interns who are studying at the moment in the University of Tartu (Estonia), Qingdao University of Science and Technology (China), and Baylor University (USA, Texas).
Voronezh State University and the University of Tartu (Tartu Ülikool, Estonia) have a long history of partnership. VSU has been running joint internship programmes with the one of the oldest universities of the Northern and Eastern Europe since 1995. Ksenia Mezhova, a master's student of the Faculty of Economics, shared her first impressions of her internship:
'In Tartu it is quiet, and everything is according to the rules. The nature is marvellous and there is a wonderful historic centre. Someone can find it boring but it appeared the best place for me to slow down and listen to my heart. What amazed me most of all? The way the studies are organised – you have online access to all the materials and you can see the timetable before the term starts. It was a pleasant surprise that marks are not that important here. You just take your time and the only person you need to compete with is yourself. I enjoy team work and every time there are different people in a team so you have to work with absolutely different people from different countries with different types of character and different values. It makes it easier to understand others, to consider their opinions and stand up for your standpoint.'
VSU has had a Chinese Language and Culture Centre since 2002. During this time, we have made cooperation agreements with more than 10 Chinese universities. Annually, our students take active part in exchange programmes with Chinese universities. A second year student of the Faculty of Romance and Germanic Philology Yekaterina Arbuzova told us about her first days of her internship and her eventful life in Qingdao University of Science and Technology which is a major university in Shandong province.
'When I was in Russia I was trying to imagine my life in China. I can't boast being well travelled and yet I was about to spend four months in the Celestial Empire. The very first days in a new country were really hard, I was constantly under culture shock – everything was so weird and alien. And this should come as no surprise – every nation has its own customs and traditions, life values, and eating habits. But by and by I got used to it and soon my life was full of new people and fascinating adventures and events that I will never forget. It has never happened to me to wake up and think that I don't want anything and would rather stay at home, the other way round, I have so much energy – it is enough to launch a rocket. I have spent a month in China and I have already climbed two mountains, have visited Beijing, have got into spirit of magnificent Chinese emperors in the Forbidden City, enjoyed the beauty of the Summer Palace and walked on the Great Chinese Wall. And I am not going to stop. I value every moment I am spending here because I know that when I am back at home I will miss Qingdao's salty sea air and its splendid mountain scenes, the colour of Chinese streets crammed with shops and street-stands with goods of all sorts, and of course my teachers and friends that fill my heart with warmth and that will never leave me in trouble.'
Since 2001, our students have been doing exchange courses in Baylor University (USA, Texas). A second year student of the Faculty of Romance and Germanic Philology Maxim Kuznetsov told us about his studies in the USA.
'As for the studies, I can see more differences than similarities. The most obvious one is possibility to choose courses. You can even create your own curriculum: you can choose the easiest courses for the first year and leave the most difficult ones for the last, or the other way round. Another pleasant surprise is possibility to make your own timetable and adjust it to your everyday routine. But most of all I liked the possibility to change your speciality (or 'major' as they call it) and choose a 'minor'. I've heard from some students that they have changed their specialities a dozen times. What's more, you can choose absolutely different courses, no matter what your speciality is. For example, if you are a programmer you can take a piano course or even choose music as your second speciality.'
VSU students doing their internships in international universities point out that the experience that they get in an absolutely new environment can be very useful in the future. We can not but agree because it is a well-known fact that a person who studied abroad sees the world differently, thinks and talks differently. The students get a valuable opportunity to learn a foreign language in natural environment – learn new words and phrases and feel the atmosphere of spoken language. Only those who have tried the role of an international student can understand all the benefits of international exchange programmes - a unique opportunity offered to our students by our university.