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19.03.2020
First NVSU students returned from Germany

Students of the Faculty of Humanities, Arina Safina and Irina Bezukladova, returned from the University of Applied Languages in Munich (SDI - Sprachen & Dolmetscher Institut München) where they had studied during autumn semester of 2019 within Erasmus+ Program. Here is what they shared about their experience of studying in Germany.

What made you think of going abroad for study?

Irina: The exchange program at the University of Applied Languages in Munich was similar to the studies at my home university, but I wasn’t not sure of my German. My teachers recommended to join the program, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to improve my German and learn more in my future professional area, and I decided to go.

Arina:  I am studying translation and interpretation, and as soon as I learned that our university cooperates with a foreign institute in this area, I decided to take part in the program.  

What were your first impressions? What surprised you, what did you like and remember first?

Irina:  I was impressed and happy to see that Germans are really friendly and helpful. We had some difficulties with transport and accommodation right after our arrival. We looked very lost, and people on the street offered us help.

Arina:  The first thing I remember was joy from the arrival, because it all seemed unreal. Of course, we were a bit lost – it was the first time we travelled abroad on our own. It was difficult to find our way at Munich airport, and it took some time to find the metro, but in the end everything was OK. We didn’t know how to use the trains or how to buy tickets. Besides, we only had large banknotes but not loose change or coins. Seeing us looking at ticket machines and not knowing what to do, a passerby came up to us and helped with the tickets.

             

Did you have some time off? If so, how did you spend your break in Germany?

Irina: During the winter semester, we had breaks twice. We had our first week off at the end of October, and the second break was during Christmas holidays, from December 23 to January 6. In addition, there was a break after the examination period in February, but I had returned home to Russia by that time.

Arina: We had two breaks. One lasted a week in autumn, the second was on Christmas, from December 23 to January 6. In autumn, I went to visit my best friend in Prague for three days. Traveling in Europe is easy, especially if you are in Munich, because Bavaria is on the border with many countries and you can go by bus.

            

What difficulties did you have in the new country?

Irina: At first it was difficult to get used to speaking in another language. Also, the university had a new format of classes. It took time to adapt to an unfamiliar system of transport and finding your way in new places.

Arina: I would say that such things as opening a bank account and paying taxes for television and radio were the most difficult and incomprehensible. Some Russian students told us where to open a bank account, and to be careful when applying for a debit card.

What did you do in your free time?

Irina: In our free time, apart from doing homework and self-guided tasks to improve German, we went out to the old city or walked in a large green park. We visited Neuschwanstein castle near Munich, and went to Italy and the Czech Republic during the autumn holidays.

Arina: The climate in Germany is much milder than in Nizhnevartovsk, so the autumn was very long and warm, and there was almost no snow in winter. We walked a lot, and we saved some money on transportation. We went to the Czech Republic, and Irina visited Italy. I would suggest one to travel as much as possible in Europe, it is very easy and inexpensive, compared with flights from Russia. Use every chance to walk around, talk to people and explore new places.

Did you find new friends?

Irina: I found some new friends from Russia, Turkey, Taiwan and Italy.

Arina: Yes, I did. We celebrated Christmas and New Year together. I was invited to a couple of family dinners. When we were leaving, everybody was really upset. It was so much fun to get to know people from other countries.

                 

Was it difficult to adapt in a new country?

Irina: It was difficult to get used to German, because I didn’t know it very well. Also, it was hard to get used to the fact that all the stores closed after 8 pm and all day on Sunday.

Arina: For me, adaptation was rather easy.

Did you receive assistance with the German university when you encountered some problems?

Irina: SDI staff was always ready to help, no matter who we talked to. We received much assistance from the international office, university lecturers and even other students. Everybody was very friendly, which you do not always expect from foreigners when it comes to international students.

Arina: Yes, we got much assistance from the international office.

Were there any funny or peculiar moments when you were abroad?

Irina and Arina: Once we had to wait for the metro train for two hours until 4.30 in the morning. That night, we were returning home late and had to catch a train before the metro closed. We changed the trains in haste, and took the train that went in the wrong direction. It took us four train stops to notice it, but by that time the metro had been already closed. Since it was an unfamiliar place for us, we did not go out of the metro station and wander in search of a night tram. Instead, we remained near the station and waited for it to open. After that incident, we always remembered which train goes in our direction. So, we would suggest everyone to be really careful when visiting a foreign country. Take time to study the transportation system and pay attention to the people around you when you travel.

What would you suggest to students going abroad for study in the future?

Irina: I would tell them to use the opportunities and not be shy. Be sure of your abilities, don’t give up or think that you cannot make it, or that it is too scary or difficult. If you like some mobility program and you have both financial and physical support, do not hesitate to go to another country – just act. You can always learn the information about the country and the people from the Internet and from other students who have been there or taken part in other mobility programs. Be ready to ask for information and take your chance. I can say that when I took this trip, I went beyond my comfort zone, but I never had any regrets about it. It was a lifetime experience for me!

Arina: I think it is important to be brave and be ready to ask for help if you need it. You should always ask questions when you have them. Also, I would recommend downloading an offline map of the area you go to, it would help you a lot.


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