Country Hopping and Language Swapping: The Erasmus experience of an international student
Urszula Kasperek is originally from Poland, but is studying for her degree in Business Management at Queen Margaret University Edinburgh. As if that wasn't enough, she's currently spending an Erasmus+ year at university in The Netherlands! Here is her take on life as a truly international student.
From Poland to Scotland, from Scotland to The Netherlands – as international student I love travelling and meeting new people.
I come from Poland and I am studying Business Management in Scotland. After my first year I decided to participate in an Erasmus+ exchange as I wanted to further compare different educational systems, as well as to enrich my knowledge about Dutch culture and language.
This was one of the best decisions I could have made.
Before my exchange I was still looking for the right direction in my future career. Thanks to the people I met and the knowledge I gathered during my time in the Netherlands, I managed to find myself and gained a better understanding of what I should do with the rest of my life.
My time in Deventer, a small city in the Netherlands, started with many social events which were designed to show exchange students the city and let them meet each other. It was really helpful, especially because at the beginning people do not know anyone. We were also allocated “Buddies” – local students to help us throughout the first weeks at university.
International network of friends
Together with other exchange students, I have been travelling around The Netherlands and trying lots of different types of food. The events connected with food were my favourite ones! Since my friendship group has students from quite a lot of different nationalities, including Mexico, Vietnam, South Korea, India, Czech Republic and Italy, we had the opportunity to share some interesting information about our cultures and got to taste different food. We often hosted international cuisine evenings, for example.
Furthermore, my exchange helped me to create some really good relationships. I now have friends all over the world and we are planning on meeting up in our respective countries in the future. The Erasmus exchange has really valuable social consequences and helps to shape self-confidence, as well as widening horizons.
As previously mentioned, the programme also helped me to identify the direction I would like to pursue in my future career. The lecturers, who were passionate about the courses, gave me a lot of support and introduced me to new subjects. Lots of lectures were a source of inspiration for me and encouraged me to develop my understanding of the topics addressed. Moreover, meeting people who are experts in their field deepened my knowledge and added some important contacts to my network.
Classes were delivered in professional and engaging way and the topics covered were really up to date and relevant. We also got to work with real clients which was surprising and challenging; however, I benefited hugely from this experience as it helped me to develop my communication skills in Dutch.
To sum up, the Erasmus programme changed my perception of the world. It increased my fascination with other cultures and widened my horizons. I am now more open to new challenges and more willing to work with people from all over the world. The knowledge which I gained helped me to identify a career which interests me and makes me happy. The period of time I spent in The Netherlands was one of the best things which has ever happened to me and I highly recommend the experience to all students.