Many international students are under the common misconception that the exchange semester is only for the Europeans. However, with a little planning and effort, any enrolled student can participate. The opportunity is right there, it is up to each one of us to make use of it.Ghayathri Suriyamoorthy
You are one of our international students in the master´s program Electrical Engineering. Already being abroad, you decided to deepen your international experience and spend one Erasmus semester at Linköping University in Sweden. What was your motivation? How did the Corona situation influence your decision or cause any doubts or difficulties?
I believe I am a citizen of the world and I find great comfort in travelling to other countries and experiencing their culture. It is essential for me to expand my horizon and gain a balanced view of the world. I wanted to make the most of it during my stay in Europe. Therefore, I leapt at the opportunity to do a semester abroad.
As everything was in motion, the unexpected situation due to Corona began to shake the ground. The change in normalcy greatly affected my study plan and I had many apprehensions about doing the exchange semester initially. The lockdown seemed like it was going to set me back by a semester at least. Fortunately, I had people at the university I could turn to for guidance. I was in constant touch with the Erasmus coordinator, Frau Müller, at Uni Stuttgart and with the dean of my major, Professor Kallfass. They helped me organize my studies and cement my decision to do the exchange program.
Preparing a semester abroad is always a bit time-consuming, even more being an international student. How do you assess the preparation time, also with regard to the special circumstances that have arisen due to the Corona situation?
Getting in touch with people became difficult and was a struggle because of COVID induced situations. Emails are not always as effective and it took twice as long to get things done as opposed to pre-corona times. Additionally, my exam dates overlapped with my travel date. Normal times, the preparation time would have been sufficient but due to corona, the schedule was always dynamic; therefore, it was a bit taxing initially. Nevertheless, the to-do-list provided by IZ helped in reducing the confusion to an extent.
What are your first impressions of Linköping? How was the orientation program? How is the teaching organized?
After arriving at Linkoping, I was completely reassured that I had made the right choice. Linkoping is a perfect student town and is full of life. The sparsely populated Linkoping comes to life at the university, which is always bustling with students. One of my greatest joys is the ten-minute bike ride to and from the university. The spacious buildings set the right ambience. The orientation program happened via zoom due to the special circumstances we are in. There was a very informative presentation about the dos and don‘ts and helpful tips on how to settle in quickly. My classes were, fortunately, campus-based, so I have to see the Professors and interact with them; there was also an option to take the classes online in case any student preferred it.
What are your expectations and plans for the next months?
I wish to take with me from the host university a lasting relationship with the cohort of my teachers and fellow-students, apart from the knowledge I will gain. I am also doing a research project under a professor at LiU. Therefore, I will be dedicating most of my time in completing the project apart from travelling around Sweden and participating in the student activities hosted by the university.
A very economical way - probably the most economical - to explore Europe is while you are still a student. An exchange semester is not only a productive way to explore a new city and country but also an opportunity to experience a different and unique student life. You meet different friends and study under new professors. Many international students are under the common misconception that the exchange semester is only for the Europeans. As a student of Uni Stuttgart, any student is eligible to apply for the program to any of the partner universities. With a little planning and effort, any enrolled student can particapte. The opportunity is right there, it is up to each one of us to make use of it.