Zara from Azerbaijan, Winter Semester 2017/18
I am Zarnura Hajiyeva, an exchange student and intern from Azerbaijan.It has already been 5 magnificent months of studying and doing an internship in International Languages Office here at RheinAhrCampus and which has become a great time to me, of course, not only academically beneficial but also socially active and indispensable for personal growth. So, I would like to share my experience in more details.
To be honest, it was my 3 years dream to study in Germany and get foreign expertise in the workplace. Thus, once I noticed announcements of calling participants for the program on the website of Azerbaijan University, I knew that I had to apply. So, right after internal selections, my documents were sent to the partner university. It was restless 2months until the results were published and three people me included to be chosen. I was unbelievably excited, not knowing what exactly that was like, and what I was going to do as an intern.
The very first impressions were the word green and graffitis. It took me two hours on a speed train arriving from Frankfurt airport to my final destination and all along the road I was fascinated by green fields, outstanding Rhein views, well-organized towns, mostly typical and similar in the outdoor decorations and of course fine street art-graffitis. Despite the town- Remagen, where the University Campus located, was not a big city that I was expecting, I found it quite peaceful and rather a historical part of Rheinland-Platz where the Second World War left its destructive tracks. On the other hand, studying in this tiny but lovely town, gave me a chance to be closer to the local community and more aware of German society, consequently their way of life. Personally, I enjoyed a lot having random conversations with local people, mainly elderly, in the shops, streets and even while riding on the riverside.
By the way, it is quite common to walk or jog alongside the river Rhein at weekend or in the morning. You should not be surprised seeing people with their pets (dogs) doing morning walk or elderly having bike tours. You may even notice groups of kayakers in a good weather condition. Another astonishing fact was the transport system, at the beginning when I saw people cycling around I was thinking why so many people did not work or study but cycle all the day. Then I realized that they were actually commuting to work or to school. The reason for my confusion was that in my country people ride bikes for leisure or as a free time activity. On the contrary, it is a type of transport here and people of all ages ranging from three to eighty have their bicycles. Having been a small town Remagen has an hourly running bus system and locals travel within the town by bikes and by trains to the other cities.
When it comes to RheinAhr Campus it has a lot to offer for a successful and entertaining student life, like weekend seminars/workshops, practice involved lectures, technologically provided classrooms, and also various social events and activities which help students socialize and become more engaged. For instance, in November Sprachen Internationales organized a weekend seminar, so-called Managing Cultural Diversity, which hosted about 20 different nations and cultures with 46 participants including lecturers, professors, and students. It was the seminar where we were involved in the process of learning, sharing experiences, facing with cultures and discussing global issues with people of various generations and know how.
Having spoken about academical benefits, I have to mention classes related to Business and marketing which were taught by foreign guest lecturers gave me a new insight to my major, while the other courses like German competency and Business English series advanced my language skills. There were certain courses with practical knowledge as well, for instance, International Business Simulations course was just an admirable one, that provided empirical, professional and life experience. Throughout the course, we created our company, had job application process, by the way I was elected as the VP, organized events where we invited refugees living in the region, collaborated with a partner university in Hungary, had a fruitful business trip there, finally gathered in the international holiday dinner held by ourselves. Hands on my heart, this was the most resourceful, enlightening part of my study abroad, because I practiced as a vice president, I got aware of an international work environment, learned processes through departments of any company, had cultural exposure while working with refugees and the homeless in Budapest. Yet, I gained a lot in terms of personal growth, developed more confidence in my skills and improved my speaking. During the events we held, all the enthusiasm and motivation I put, and all the hard work I did in the company, paid equally off. As our professor stated the course was self-reflecting, the more you contribute the more you get back.
Furthermore, being close to big cities like Koblenz, Bonn and Cologne, and travelling there for free with the semester card creates another valuable opportunity to travel and explore Germany more. Speaking of traveling, I have to say one of the greatest parts of stay abroad is to be able to travel around the region, which in my case was around Europe. So, last 3 months, I could afford to conduct trips to neighboring countries such as Belgium, France, Netherlands and Switzerland which was my loveliest one, and so on.
I barely believe that it is almost time to go back. Time literally flies! I tried to make most of everything, as long as I could, and now I am returning home with a load of sweet memories, adventures and priceless expertise.
Eventually, this is such an awe-inspiring experience that I wish every student could get, and I would like to say thanks, Rheinahr Campus and Erasmus for granting me this opportunity.