Exchange Experience

Exchange Experience

Exchange experience can be a huge source of inspiration and even a real turning point as urges students to step off the beaten track.

Below SSE Riga students share their feedeback studying in some of the partner institutions over the academic year 2020/2021.

 

 

Anna Bakāne - Spain, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (blended exchange)

Anna Bakane

Why did you choose to go on exchange?

Since I have never lived outside of Riga, going on exchange was something I was dreaming about since starting studies at SSE Riga. I wanted to gain more independence and prove to myself that I want to move abroad sometime in the future. I believe that it is also an amazing opportunity to meet new friends all over the world and visit friends that live far away from your home.

Why specifically this university/place?

I've always wanted to see how it is like to live in a big European city with a diverse and colorful culture. Not only Madrid was a city I had never been to, but also it is the perfect blend of good weather, lovely people, amazing food, and beautiful buildings, streets, and parks.

Also, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid is a known university in Madrid with a good reputation and a wide variety of courses offered. That's why Madrid was the perfect choice for me.

Could you briefly describe the university/courses/community?

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid is a big university with many campuses all around Madrid (social sciences and law, humanities and engineering). When I first saw the university campus, it reminded me of American universities from the movies. There is a free atmosphere, lots of space for socializing and relaxing. Indeed, it is a lot different from the close-knit SSE Riga community and small campus. I had to be a lot more independent.

What did you like the most about your exchange?

The best thing about my exchange was the possibility to see different cities in Spain and Portugal during the pandemic. The culture is so different from the Baltics! And the streets were empty, there were no tourists, which is a perfect setting for exploring. Besides, it was so great to meet some friends who came to SSE Riga on exchange in previous semesters and see how they are doing.

Was there something you did not like?

During the first weeks of my studies, the situation in Spain was getting worse, and the government was setting stricter restrictions for public gatherings. Therefore, all student activities were canceled and I could not meet other Erasmus students. Even though I still managed to enjoy the city and grasp the feeling of Madrid, I did not have any student parties or gatherings that would make my Erasmus even better.

Did Covid-19 affect your exchange program?

Although the university was open, only a part of the lectures required physical attendance. We had to wear masks and sit far away from each other which made it super difficult to communicate with each other. Also, I spent a lot more time than I expected alone or in my apartment because there was not anything else to do. However, I would still do it again, Covid-19 did not ruin my exchange.

Would you encourage other students to use this opportunity? 

Go for it! Going on Erasmus is one of the highlights of my life. For me, university years are not only for hard work and studying. The sense of freedom, meeting new people every day, and the chance to travel is not anything you can experience all at once when you have a stable job and other responsibilities.

Anton Sentukhouski - Denmark, Aarhus University, School of Business and Social Sciences (physical exchange)

Anton Sentukhouski

Why did you choose to go on exchange?

To see another country, experience a different culture, compare the education level to SSE, and probably find some new connections.

Why specifically this university/place?

I chose this university due to its high-ranking, full-English courses and the huge international community in one of the youngest cities in Denmark.

Could you briefly describe the university/courses/community?

The university is amazing and cannot be really compared to SSE Riga since it has many more departments besides Business  School. Courses are taught well and you can feel the interest in the subject coming from lecturers themselves, who provide you with an always up-to-date knowledge and skills. As to the community, there is no doubt it is one of the greatest and kindest groups of people I have ever seen. Everyone is so helpful and talkative, so energetic and motivates, you can rarely get yourself bored or alone.

What did you like the most about your exchange?

People, food, once again people.

Was there something you did not like?

Huge taxes on sugar-made or sugar-like food.

The best memory you remember from your exchange:

Night walks near the sea.

Did Covid-19 affect your exchange program?

It did, and quite serious. Social life was cut in like 90% with no parties, public lectures or sports activities. Many shops were also closed during my last weeks of stay. Overall, I believe that I experienced less than half out of what I could have otherwise.

Would you encourage other students to use this opportunity?

If you are not afraid of being that far from home and friends, and willing to expand your network and knowledge through new culture and connections, Exchange is one of the rarest opportunities one is given in the entire life.

Samanta Mežmale - Germany, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management (blended exchange)

Samanta Mezmale

Why did you choose to go on exchange?

I thought it is a great opportunity to meet new people, explore different cultures, travel, and this experience would make me more independent and get me out of my comfort zone.

Why specifically this university/place?

I wanted to restore my German language skills, therefore, I chose Germany as a destination for my exchange semester. From all the available universities I selected specifically this one because it had the highest ratings and because it was located in a big city which was an important factor for me.

Could you briefly describe the university/courses/community?

FS is located in Frankfurt which is especially well-known for its finance industry. I was amazed by the university campus which is brand-new, with many study places, a variety of food stations, and a pleasant and motivating atmosphere. Most of the courses I took were very interesting.

Each course involved a lot of group work and I enjoyed this free schedule and did not have to rush the learning process. Besides, all the courses were available in the hybrid format - you could choose whether to attend the lecture on-site or online. Also, the university offered to join any of the 30 different student initiatives, and even in these unusual times, I could attend dance, arts, and charity initiatives.

What did you like the most about your exchange?

The best thing from this whole experience I think was meeting so many diverse people with different cultural backgrounds. FS, being a well-known and high-ranked university, attracts a lot of exchange students which is why I got to know more than 30 students from countries like Italy, France, Sweden, Brazil, Canada, Vietnam, etc. Not to mention, it was the first time I had a proper "dorm life" experience which was a lot of fun. Also, because almost no one spoke in my mother tongue I got to improve my English and German.

Was there something you did not like?

What I disliked is that in the second part of the exchange semester the restrictions got stricter, and there were fewer opportunities to meet with others. However, in the end, I even enjoyed it and could focus more on studies or meet one-on-one with others. Also, as I said before, Frankfurt is a city of finance, and people who want to work in this sphere have high prospects here, but for more creative and humanitarian professions it might be not the best place.

The best memory you remember from your exchange:

I think many of the great memories came from travelling. Even in these times I visited a lot of smaller cities and experienced 2 bigger trips to Hamburg and Berlin. The transportation is very convenient in Germany and just a few hours by fast train could take you to another part of Germany or even other countries.

Did Covid-19 affect your exchange program? 

Yes, it did. In the first 2 months the restrictions were quite mild. However, it got worse and many places got closed which made it harder to meet other students and lessened entertainment options. But the university was very well prepared for the Covid-19: each student had to wear a tracer that would track his/her location on the campus to notify in case a person was near the infected person, they installed glass walls between seats in the classrooms so that students could still sit in the classrooms and strictly monitored that students wear masks, keep distance and disinfect hands. Throughout all semester students could go to campus and study there. I think it is a very big advantage because so many universities went fully online while FS managed to keep the blended format.

Would you encourage other students to use this opportunity? 

I really encourage you to go on the exchange, you will not regret it. Whatever the experience is - good or bad - you will broaden your perspectives, get many contacts and experience an exciting cultural adventure. As of my advice, apply for accommodation as early as possible to get the possibility to live in dorms and save on costs, and don't be afraid of participating in this amazing program because it is very likely that it will be a life-changing experience for you too!

Antons Tesluks - Lithuania, MB Accelero ES (blended traineeship)

Antons Tesluks

Why did you choose to go on exchange?

I was curious what differences there are in working culture in Latvia and other countries. Also, I wanted to get experience in working outside Latvia, which I did not have until that traineeship.

Why specifically this place?

This is a promising startup with a nice culture and approach. I was sure that I will learn a lot during that traineeship. The company specializes in digital marketing which is very important for almost any business nowadays.

Could you briefly describe the workplace/your duties/colleagues?

It is a young startup that helps companies to establish their presence in social media. I was responsible for communicating with existing clients as well as searching for new ones. My duties were identifying existing and potential customers' problems and needs, and preparing and selling a solution to them. The colleagues were very helpful and had an entrepreneurial spirit, so it was a pleasure to work with them. The team was small, which is why we could meet and discuss things not only in the office but also in a cafe or virtually from our homes.

What did you like the most about your exchange?

I really enjoyed flexible working hours, I was able to pick my own working schedule. We were not required to be in the office all the time as well, which was especially convenient. On top of that, I really enjoyed communicating with colleagues which were quite experienced in digital marketing.

Was there something you did not like?

Everything seemed nice.

The best memory you remember from your exchange:

Going on a trip with colleagues to a national park near Vilnius.

Did Covid-19 affect your exchange program? 

Due to Covid-19 working time became more flexible, which is a positive aspect.

Would you encourage other students to use this opportunity? 

I would encourage other students to use this opportunity because working in another country gives you a precious experience. You will notice some cultural differences which will make you a more critical thinking person. I would advice to stay open-minded and try to learn as much as possible during a traineeship.

Liina Vesilind - Estonia, Private equity firm (physical traineeship)

Liina Vesilind

Why did you choose to go on exchange?

As I already knew I will do my internship outside of Latvia, I figured I could apply for Erasmus+ traineeship and see what happens.

Why specifically this place?

It was a good place where to practise what I have learned in university in the real world. Also as I applied for internships in the middle of the lockdown, I chose the best place available at the time.

Could you briefly describe the workplace/your duties/colleagues?

My workplace environment was very professional as all people there just worked all the time. In general, I did some financial analysis, market analysis, product research and helped with other things that were asked.

What did you like the most about your exchange?

The opportunity to get work experience in my home country.

The best memory you remember from your exchange:

The day before my internship ended I had a birthday and I went to the office with a cake and all. Apparently, also my colleague had a birthday the same day, which I didn't know about (side note: only 10 people worked in that company). So there we were the first ones to the office that morning with a lot of food and wishing each other happy birthday. It was a fun day.

Did Covid-19 affect your exchange program? 

Not much.

Would you encourage other students to use this opportunity? 

I would encourage everyone who already knows that they are going to do their internship outside of Latvia to apply for the Erasmus+ traineeship. The time it takes for applying and then doing the necessary paperwork is around 5 hours all together, which is not that much considering what this traineeship program gives you in return.

Konradas Milkus - Germany adidas AG, Global HQ (physical traineeship)

Konradas Milkus

Why did you choose to go on exchange?

- I had a goal to start growing as a professional.
- I wanted to experience a new culture.

Why specifically this place?

Frankly speaking, after receiving an offer from one of the leading sports brands in the world, I did not have any second thoughts. It was clear to me that I have to accept an offer and embark on a new professional journey.

Could you briefly describe the workplace/your duties/colleagues?

The home of adidas is a place where innovation in sports clothing happens. More than 6000 employees from more than 100 nationalities arrive at the campus every single day to push the brand forward. You can meet the greatest experts of their fields there, especially in fields such as product creation, marketing, etc.

What did you like the most about your exchange?

There were numerous things that I liked. Firstly, it was such as enormous opportunity to gain experience from a well-known company worldwide. Colleagues were super helpful and the company is really employee-oriented. I loved a strong company culture. It was obvious from day one that people are living and breathing sports there. Last but not least, it is possible to create relationships that might last a lifetime. On a funny note, you might even meet Lionel Messi on campus.

Was there something you did not like?

No.

Would you encourage other students to use this opportunity? 

Of course, but I would advise to plan it carefully ahead. I honestly believe that it might be one of the best experiences for you and the financial support from Erasmus+ traineeship programme makes it even more achievable.

Marija Dvorņikova - South Korea, Ajou University (physical exchange)

Marija Dvorņikova

Why did you choose to go on exchange?

I knew I wanted to go on exchange already in the first year of studies. I think it is a great opportunity to live in a foreign country, experience unique, meet new people and try how it is to study abroad.

Why specifically this university/place?

Because of unique culture. Also, I had never been to Asia before. So, it was a great chance to go there.

Could you briefly describe the university/courses/community?

University has a big campus with football fields, a library, theater, shops, dormitories, a hospital, etc. The staff is very helpful. We had most of the courses online but some exams and presentations were happening in the university. There is a list of courses in English you can choose the ones you want to take.

What did you like the most about your exchange?

Korean culture and country (you can’t imagine how organized and developed the country is), food (it was amazing and often you don’t understand what you are eating), people I met.

Was there something you did not like?

Korean people are very introverted and often maintain distance with foreigners and with covid, it was even more pronounced. So, it was quite hard to communicate. Also, without all the covid restrictions the experience would be completely different.

The best memory you remember from your exchange:

I have a lot of amazing lifetime memories but one of the highlights was climbing Korea’s highest mountain. It took around 7 hours to go to the top and back down. The view from the top is just breathtaking.

Did Covid-19 affect your exchange program? How?

Yes, definitely. I had to quarantine for 2 weeks when I came to Korea without leaving Airbnb for a moment. You have to wear masks everywhere (even on the streets). The borders were closed, so you cannot really travel to other Asian countries. A lot of student events were cancelled and studies were mostly offline, so I did not meet a lot with other students. Also, there were not so many exchange students.

Would you encourage other students to use this opportunity? 

Of course! It is an amazing opportunity in every sense - studies abroad, living on your own, different culture, travelling, making friends. I think that wherever you go on exchange it is fun, but choose something exotic and it will be an adventure for sure.

 

erasmus

When choosing where to go on an exchange semester, Paris was at the top of my list. Not only because of the possibility to upgrade my French language skills in one of the most prestigious politics schools in the world but also to experience how it is to live in one of the most famous cities in the world and feel like a local. Also, traveling in Central Europe is super affordable and that is something I did in my spare time.

— Marta Metuzāle
spent a semester at Sciences Po in France
Marina Troškova
BSc Programme International Manager. Read More