Полоцкий государственный университет


Students of the Faculty of Information Technologies Ksenia Kalita and Alexandra Sadovskaya studied at Emden/Leer University of Applied Sciences (Germany) between February 13 and July 17 under the Erasmus+ programme.

It’s proving to be an interesting experience for Ksenia.

Corr.: Ksenia, would you tell us about yourself?

Ksenia Kalita: I live with my parents in Novopolotsk. I like animals. I have two cats at home. I’m a 3rd-year student of the Faculty of Information Technologies, my speciality is Information Technology Software. I take an active part in research under the supervision of Alexander Kozlov (Head of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Security, PhD in Physics and Mathematics, Associate Professor). He was the one who encouraged me to apply for study in Germany. I’m very grateful to him for this.

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Corr.: What did you have to do to participate in the Erasmus+ program? What are the requirements for applicants, which of them was the most difficult to fulfill?

Ksenia K.: I had to prepare a lot of documents. Writing a motivation letter was the toughest challenge for me. It is not so easy to put your thoughts into words in the best way in two languages (Russian and English).

Corr.: You think it’s important to have a good command of English to participate in such projects, don’t you?

Ksenia K.: Of course. Many people around the world speak English, so a little bit of English can solve your problems abroad, no matter what country you are visiting.

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Corr.: Did you like studying at Emden/Leer University of Applied Sciences? Was it difficult?

Ksenia K.: I liked my studies, though it seemed impossible to me at first, I mean studying abroad. Sometimes I had sleepless nights, especially during the exams. All in all, I succeeded in it all.

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Corr.: What do you think the knowledge gained will be useful in the future?

Ksenia K.: Sure! We took a course in Art and Academic Writing. It wasn’t similar to the typical class. That was a kind of course where you learnt to think outside the box and, at the same time, do critical thinking, write research articles, generate ideas, even when there was no idea. I do believe that this will really help me.

Corr.: What was the COVID-19 impact on teaching and learning?

Ksenia K.: We studied online from mid-March till the end of the term. Exams were taken fully online as well. All teachers quickly adapted to the new teaching format and conducted classes with skype, zoom, YouTube, etc. And that’s great. Online learning has its own advantages, for example, an opportunity to take notes of a lecture. In May, we were allowed to attend the laboratory where we worked on a project. It was well equipped, and I saw with great interest how the computer code made real parts move through the conveyor.


Corr.: What problems did you face?

Ksenia K.: The difficulties were everywhere and all the time when preparing documents in Novopolotsk and returning from Germany. I’ve managed to get over difficulties, and everything turned out fine in the end. As for the language, it was not so easy to speak German at first. But thanks to a two-week course in German I broke the language barrier. Besides, we used English when learning German, which helps to improve both foreign languages.

Corr.: Was it difficult to be away from family?

Ksenia K.: It seems to me that even a few decades ago that would be really complicated, but now there are lots of social media and messengers allowing you to always keep in touch with your relatives and that’s great! I talked to my mom every day and now I want to thank her for supporting me all the time.

Corr.: How did you pass your free time? Did you manage to visit anything?

Ksenia K.: While having my free time I learnt how to cook and that appeared to be really interesting and not as difficult as I thought. Travelling farther than a local grocery store wasn’t an option because of the quarantine. However, I managed to visit the Czech Republic, Amsterdam and a few Lower Saxony towns before the boundaries were closed. By the way, we had a free passage around Lower Saxony. At the beginning of the semester you pay for a so-called Campus Card (an analog for our student ID). It has some features. For example, you can pay for the food in the cafeteria, pay for washing your clothes and you can also pay for travelling by this card.

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Corr.: Something a little bit special for you?

Ksenia K.: There are a lot of remarkable moments. The first thing that pops up in my mind is our mini-travelling together with German teachers and other Erasmus+ students. At first, we visited the nearest sights riding bicycles. The Leaning Tower of Suurhusen, for example. It’s recorded in the Guinness Record Book as having the most leaning tower in the world (beating the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa). Then we had a wonderful lunch (which transformed into a dinner later) with national dishes of both our countries. I made draniki. Then our teacher prepared the real tea ceremony according to the traditions of East Frisia (the region we lived). It was a wonderful pastime for all of us: we told about ourselves, our countries, shared stories, and sang songs with the guitar and cajon. The atmosphere was great!

The Leaning Tower of Suurhusen

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Corr.: Would you recommend something to those who want to study abroad? Is it worth using such a possibility?

Ksenia K.: Of course, it is! Studying at different university is a great opportunity of gaining knowledge. You can get acquainted with an interesting culture and learn a new language, better understand different people and widen your horizons, travel and believe that there is nothing impossible. My granddad is my best friend and he says: “To do something you should do something”. You want to learn a new language? Go ahead! You want to gain great knowledge, meet new people, and be in demand in the labor market? Go for it! Don’t be afraid, do something, “seek and find, knock and be welcomed”.

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Photos: personal archive of Ksenia K.