The real question is – do you like to travel? Of course. Who wouldn’t like to chill under a palm tree in an exotic country, hike in the mountains, try new food, explore new cultures or learn a new language?
The main reason for not doing so is that people don’t want to be absent from university. University is supposed to teach us how to be wise and smart about the goals we want to accomplish and how life actually works. Who on earth would want to risk their future?
The Erasmus program offers a superb opportunity to spend a semester or a year abroad. It’s the best way to connect studying and travelling. Do not miss this!
Our students, both exchange and local, have found their way to a great European country. I talked to five cool Erasmus students to find out what they think about the program and how did they end up participating.
Laura-Liisa Lilleberg was an exchange student in France and Christopher Roosla is currently studying in Japan.
Marta Volterrani from Italy, Helene Lind Matthiesen from Denmark and Omri Burstein from Israel have all found their way to Estonia.
How did you get into the Erasmus programme? (Where did you hear about it?)
I actually got into it by accident. Last year I took part in an entrepreneurship program called CLEVER. By the end of the program I was invited to come to Estonia and study business while doing another entrepreneurial program here. (Omri)
I got into Erasmus through my home university Copenhagen Business School. As I am currently doing my Master Studies, this is my second Erasmus program. During my bachelor’s degree I went on an Erasmus to Madrid. (Helene)
I was first supposed to go study abroad during my high school years but since that didn’t work out, a semester abroad with Erasmus was the way to go in university. Already during school I had heard a lot about the program from several friends and since everyone had had such an amazing experience, I knew I also wanted to be a part of it. (Laura-Liisa)
Why did you want to come in Estonia?
I wanted to come to Estonia for two main reasons:
Firstly and most importantly, I had little to no knowledge about this beautiful small country and decided it could be a great opportunity. Secondly, it was my only option. (Omri)
I chose Estonia because I wanted to experience something different from Copenhagen and Madrid. I didn’t know much about Estonia before coming here and saw a great opportunity to explore the Baltic countries as this had previously not been my travel destination. Once reading about Estonia, I found that they had a very interesting history and current growth and that Tallinn was appealing to me as the city looked beautiful and I enjoyed the idea of trying to live in a smaller capital. Also EBS is comparatively smaller than the two universities I have been to in Denmark and Spain so academically and socially I felt this would be a different experience. Finally, I wished to travel to Russia and wanted to go to a country located close to Russia. (Helene)
Where did you spend your exchange and why there?
I spent a semester in Nantes, France. I chose France because I had been studying French since middle school and I really wanted to improve my language skills. Also, a friend of my family lives near Nantes, so they helped me with moving and all the (oh-so-horrible) paperwork in France. So for the language and comfort. And of course, the culture as well. (Laura-Liisa)
Bring out 5 differences of the studies between your country and Estonia.
In Israel I study chemical engineering, so the differences are pretty massive. In my everyday life I learn about chemical reactions and Newton laws, yet here I do social psychology and business marketing which is a refreshing change. I think the biggest difference would be the focus on thinking and development in a much greater creative sense with subjects like creative teams, creative economy etc. In Estonia, unlike Israel, everything is online; no notebooks, no papers nor pens, only your laptop, which is quite nice. oh yeah, and there is space in the parking lots (not that I use them).(Omri)
I find the study differences between Denmark and Estonia to be big. First, CBS is a much larger university so the lectures can be quite different as the largest amount of students I’ve had classes with at EBS is around 20 while at CBS I’ve had lectures in lecture halls with up to 400 students. Therefore, the social aspect is also different as at EBS you get the chance to get to know many of the students on campus over time. Furthermore, the structure of the Master classes are rather different as mine at EBS have been more intensive courses with many hours on few days whereas at CBS the classes are spread out on more days throughout the semester. In addition, the exam process is different. At CBS, homework and hand-ins during the semester will usually not count towards your final grade but may only in some cases be mandatory for accessing the final exam. So your whole grade is dependent on your final exam which will usually be a synopsis and an oral exam, a four hour sit-in or a 48/72 hour home exam. Finally, the professors at CBS give students a much larger amount of readings before each class. (Helene)
(1) People – they affect you the most while being abroad and solidarity is a whole new conception after you’ve completed Erasmus (2) Mindset – you see, learn, hear and are surrounded by so many new and different things so the way you see the world changes completely (3) Culture – it affects the academic habits and your everyday life a lot as well. Everything is totally different in a big university compared to our tiny EBS.(4) New opportunities – thanks to the people and new experiences you discover new options regarding your career, studies, relationships and so on. Stepping away for a bit and seeing yourself from the distance, you discover what’s wrong and what’s right and what needs to be changed.(5) You – by spending time away from our small community where everyone knows everyone and has even bigger opinions about each other, you find the time to just be yourself. In reality, when you come back you’re simply more like your true self. (Laura-Liisa)
Bring out one thing that an erasmus student has to do or see at least once?
The best thing you can do while on Erasmus, in my opinion, is to travel as much as you can and whenever you can. The whole point of the exchange is to open yourself to new cultures and experiences. That said, traveling is the best way of doing so (and parties, of course…)(Omri)
(I assume I am answering what students should see in CPH?) I think Denmark has some great cities and sights (for instance Møns Klint) so Erasmus students should definitely explore the country. Also students should take advantage of the location and take a day or weekend trip by train to Sweden and a ferry to Norway. Other than that I think Copenhagen has a lot to offer as a city to see and CBS allows for a great social life.(Helene)
Take part of the Erasmus programme. I know it’s lame, but honestly, it changes everything. You shouldn’t stay home – Erasmus is about experiencing everything a new country has to offer. (Laura-Liisa)
Name the benefits of studying in your country.
Studying in Israel can be a great experience, the Israelis are very different from Estonians, they speak their mind, hug you and are extra touchy and we like it that way! Also, the professors are quite good, no matter what field, every college specializes in different fields and has the most knowledgeable professors to do so. (Omri)
CBS offers a progressive and extremely international environment. Compared to EBS it offers a different learning experience that I think could add to your academic competences and a view on how a university can have a different learning progress. Denmark offers a unique cultural experience, Copenhagen has a distinct atmosphere and the people’s different way of life gives you a new cultural input. I think Copenhagen would be a great choice for Erasmus and that the city allows a great personal development. (Helene)
French cities are beautiful, there’s life everywhere and the people are polite. The surrounding environment is probably the biggest benefit. Of course, there are a lot of international people there, which made my school experience much more interesting. All the lecturers were from different countries and backgrounds as well as the students. The progress you go through abroad due to the variety of people is immense. (Laura-Liisa)
What do you think of the Erasmus programme? What is it useful for?
The Erasmus programme is an opportunity that allows you to live a new life and to create new memories in places that you never imagined before. Of course, it’s helpful in order to learn new languages, but also about different cultures, people and cities. All that is a huge gift for every Erasmus student. (Marta)
Technically, I’m not a part of the Erasmus programme because it only operates inside Europe. Overall, I’ve got nothing bad to say about it and it’s a great chance to create new experiences and connections and get out of your comfort zone. (Christopher)
What have you learned during this programme?
The first lesson I learned from my Erasmus experience was that you don’t have to wonder why something happens: don’t ask yourself too many questions, just live in the moment! Spending so much time abroad and away from home makes you understand what are your limits and how to overstep them! (Marta)
In addition to all the knowledge about Japan, I feel that you learn much more from other exchange students about their cultures. You learn a lot about yourself as well, especially how you adapt in a new situation. (Christopher)
What are the pros and cons of the programme?
The pros are of course improving the language skills, knowing a different country, making a unique experience that you will remember forever. The cons instead are just way less important and more about homesickness but it’s really easy to distract yourself from those thoughts! (Marta)
The pros: a great opportunity to gain a new experience and contacts and leave your comfort zone. You learn a lot about how things work in other universities which makes you appreciate our little EBS. The cons would be that the main focus is not on learning, not just for the exchange students but everyone else as well, yet thankfully everything is quite easy for me and it’s not a big problem.
Do you recommend Erasmus to other students? If so, then why?
I think that everyone should have an Erasmus experience: now, almost 4 months later, I am a new me. I changed and I think I’m better in many ways, I have visited places I never thought I’d visit in my life, I have known people I hope I’ll have by my side forever, I learned to know a culture completely different from mine and last but not least, I tested myself and my limits and I’m really satisfied with my results! (Marta)
I do recommend it in order to get a new experience outside of Estonia and it really makes you appreciate your home. (Christopher)
Editor: Kärt Mättikas
Translator: Triin Tikk
Pictures: Omri Brustein, Marta Volterrani, Laura-Liisa Lilleberg, Christopher Roosla