Yet another group of VSU students have just returned from Estonia where they took part in a semester-long exchange programme in the University of Tartu. A third-year student of the VSU Faculty of International Relations, Natalia Bogatyreva, and a third-year student of the Faculty of History, Alexander Koryagin, completed internship programmes at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Tartu, and a second-year student of the VSU Faculty of Pharmaceutics, Sofia Matveychuk, studied at the Faculty of Medicine. They were happy to share their impressions of their internship.
– I chose courses at both the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Faculty of Economics, because, at VSU, I am enrolled in two study programmes as well: at the Faculty of Economics and the Faculty of International Relations. I took Strategic Management and Innovations, English Language, German Language, and Business English. The course in Project Management involved completing a group project and presenting it. Our project was called “Saving the Food” and was aimed at developing an application that would provide information about the sale of restaurant food which is nearing its expiry date. The course in Financial Management was mostly practical and involved solving a number of economic tasks. At the University of Tartu, there were a variety of leisure activities for the students. The most interesting and memorable events organized by Erasmus were the International Food Festival, Bachelor Auction, Science Day, and Tartu Movie Nights. At the International Food Festival, there were dishes from numerous cuisines which were prepared by the students themselves (I was on the Russian team), while on the Science Day, we visited a number of Tallinn's museums, says Natalia.
– There is a well-known parable about the large and the small circles of knowledge of the sage and his apprentice. In it, the sage says that outside these circles, there is the unknown. And the larger the circle of knowledge, the bigger is the area of the unknown that it touches. So, the more a person learns, the more questions they have. My internship at the University of Tartu has given me an excellent opportunity to expand my circle of knowledge, touching the unknown every day. Coming to Estonia opened up a new stage in my life; it’s a new page which I can use to write something that will influence my whole future as a student, as a specialist, and as a person in general. What impressed me most about the university life in Tartu was its discipline and regularity. The orientation course, which my semester started with, was very helpful. Over three days, we were given a large amount of useful information about the country, the university and its structure, and the academic and extracurricular opportunities.
I was amazed to see how various methods were used to present complex subjects and topics in a simple and understandable way. From the very first days, the lecturers were very open and friendly. During the lectures, they used interesting examples, and were always ready to help with any question about our individual tasks. Many of the seminars were interactive; for instance, one of the Biochemistry tests was organized as a mind game. Overall, the university's atmosphere seemed very motivating for studies and the achievement of targets. Apart from the subjects necessary for my professional development as a pharmacist, I also signed up for a course in Estonian culture so as to know more about the country. Additionally, I visited exhibitions and concerts, dipping into the atmosphere of Estonia. I am extremely grateful to VSU for giving me this opportunity to spend some time studying at an Estonian university. Each day of the semester expanded my own circle of knowledge, touching more of the unknown, said Sofia.
– I learned about the University of Tartu even before I actually went to this Estonian town. I became interested in the internal policy of the Russian Empire, especially this small corner – the Baltic provinces, including the second oldest university in the country after Moscow University – Dorpat University. Today, this university is the biggest in Estonia, and it is only thanks to it that Tartu may rival the country capital, Tallinn, in its importance for the country as a whole. Tartu is a small, “German-style” town that you can walk all around in just an hour, where most of the public buildings belong to the university – from the library to the health clinic. Even more importantly, the university is deeply integrated into the globalization process: international students are taught in English, and local students are taught in two languages.
All the information regarding the lectures, homework assignments, and exam requirements, could be found online. During the lectures, a wide variety of handouts was provided, in addition to the visuals presented via the projector. There was also free Wi-Fi access in all the university's buildings. In the university itself, there were students from lots of different countries. The international team created an amazing atmosphere of cultural, experience, and value exchange. The extracurricular activities of the multicultural group of students were managed by the ESN international organization, which offered numerous opportunities for the students. I tried to spend as much free time as I could travelling to other cities: Tallinn, Pärnu, Stockholm, Riga, and Milan.
The semester in Tartu was a source of unforgettable experience for me. In addition to studying the materials necessary to finish my research paper, I was able to improve my knowledge of English, open myself to new ideas and trends, and meet people from different countries and cultures. It is great to know that somewhere, thousands of kilometres away from you, you have friends who are always happy to see you, said Alexander.