From September 13-16, 2016, ESME Sudria’s International Service Team was in Liverpool for the 28th annual conference of the European Association for International Education (EAIE), the biggest conference on higher education in Europe.
ESME Sudria could count on Lauriane Blandel, lnternational Development Officer, and Julie Wolff, International Mobility Coordinator, to represent the school at the stand during the event, which brought together Europe’s leading institutions as well as prominent schools from American and Asia. The two representatives took advantage of the three days they spent on the banks of the River Mersey by strengthening ties with partner universities and establishing new contacts for potential future collaborations. “Our goal is to optimize the outgoing mobility of our students by offering them an increasingly wide and attractive selection of partner universities to spend their mandatory 3rd year semester abroad, and by developing the possibilities of a double degree with an international school,” explains Lauriane Blandel. “During the EAIE conference, Julie and I had the chance to present existing ESME Sudria programs, as well as two new programs aimed at enhancing incoming mobility, namely the “Become a Maker” summer school program and an exchange program in English. Our partners were extremely interested in these prospects, and that should give rise to promising collaborations in the near future.”
Inès Aras (ESME Sudria Class of 2018) spent her semester abroad at the Beijing Institute of Technology. Read all about her journey here.
11 of the 20 students from the ESME Sudria Class of 2018 who traveled to Beijing (Lianxiang Campus)
Photo credit: Inès Aras
“Since I had already had the chance to visit America during my free time, I decided after a few weeks’ reflection to set my sights on Asia, and more specifically China, for my 3rd year semester abroad. It was a new continent for me with an extremely different culture, one that would provide me with the opportunity both to learn Mandarin and improve my English. I was also (and especially) attracted to this land of superlatives and its incredible population growth (which has made Chinese one of the most spoken languages today), its new standing as the second global superpower, its nickname of “the world’s factory” because of its status as the world’s leading exporter, and its army, currently the largest of any country on the planet.
The Great Wall at Badaling
I finally settled on Beijing, the capital. On February 25, 2016, I embarked – along with around twenty other ESME Sudria students – on the trip of a lifetime. Upon arriving, we made our way to the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT). Established in 1940 and home to more than 26,000 students annually, this public university specializes in science and technology but also boasts management and social studies departments. And we were not the only foreigners there: students from all over the world came to take classes as part of their B.S. or dual Master’s programs.
The Forbidden City
From left to right: a street food vendor in Beijing, a typical local dish, and the Great Wall of China
BIT has three campuses, two of which are in Beijing: Zhonguancun, in the downtown area, where the bulk of our courses were held, and a brand new campus in Lianxiang in the suburbs of Beijing, about an hour and a half from downtown by public transportation. Many of the students were housed on this new campus. During the first half of the semester, we had classes in C programming, data communication and networking, principles of data communication, and Chinese (which was optional). The second half included courses in communication and networking, semiconductors, and again Chinese. We had midterms and final exams in every subject. All the courses were taught in English by Chinese professors, who spoke the language fluently. Sometimes we were required to work in groups, such as in the C programming class, where we had one month to create a video game using the C programming language, each of us working in a group made up entirely of Chinese students.
Pollution in Beijing at the Olympic Stadium
In addition to my coursework and a feel for life at the university, I was left with amazing memories of my trip to China. It’s an extraordinary country that promises a good dose of culture shock and eccentricity. Although it was too short (it always is!), the semester provided me with a first impression of Chinese culture and the wonderful sites to visit. Chinese holidays allowed me to spend long weekends visiting just a small fraction of the country.
Two sides of Beijing
I am convinced a semester abroad is highly beneficial for students: the experience is immensely enriching, and serves you well into the future. You learn a real sense of personal responsibility, which arises from daily tasks such as filing paperwork or tidying up, organizing your schedule, establishing new contacts, etc. I learned a great deal about myself as well as others, and that helped me understand what I really want to accomplish in life. Exchange, conviviality, and open-mindedness are the three words I’d use to describe this experience. I have only one suggestion for future ESME students: dare to travel…and say yes to China!”
This year, 24 3rd year students from all ESME Sudria campuses headed to the Latvian city of Valmiera to study at the Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences during their semester abroad. Among them: Thomas Franzoni (ESME Sudria Class of 2018).
When it came to selecting a destination for his semester abroad, Thomas is not afraid to say that Latvia was not his first choice. “Initially I thought about going to Ireland, but this proved to be impossible.” Once over the disappointment of being unable to tread the native soil of U2 and Pierce Brosnan, Thomas began to prepare for his semester abroad in Latvia. “I was skeptical. What’s more, the primary motivation behind my choice of destination was a strong desire to improve my English, to the point where I could speak it fluently…” Six months later, Thomas, more than satisfied, has resumed his journey at ESME Sudria. “I was pleasantly surprised by the semester I spent in Latvia. I was able to practice my English as much as I had hoped, and even discovered the local Latvian language,” he explains. The trip of a lifetime? Affirmative!
Technology and tourism
Once there, Thomas quickly got the hang of things. “Life in Latvia was remarkable: the customs, culture, population, prices, accommodation, course structure, food, leisure activities, weather…we were amazed by everything there! Most of us stayed in dorms belonging to the University of Vidzeme. Upon arriving (and as per information which was provided beforehand), we had the choice of rooming with another French student or with a foreign student. Those wanting more space and privacy also had the possibility to live alone. As for myself, I roomed with a French friend for three months before finally deciding upon an individual dorm for the following two months to get a taste for living alone.” Apart from the 15 to 20 hours per week of courses on a variety of technologies which were taught in English (C++, web development, systems analysis, virtual and augmented reality, computer networks, etc.), Thomas was free to devote his time to exploring the country, which before his departure was anything but familiar. “We took advantage of our free time by eating together, discovering Valmiera and its surroundings, taking trips to Riga (two hours by bus), resting, traveling, and enjoying a number of sporting events and organized festivities… We also benefited from our enrollment with the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). This network provided valuable information and offered us the possibility to travel both within Latvia and elsewhere. Thanks to our supervisors at the university, we were also able to visit various sites in Latvia and Estonia: major Latvian telephone and networking companies, observatories, museums, etc.”
An unforgettable evening for “ESME Sudria ambassadors”
To top it all off, Thomas and the other ESME Sudria students had the good fortune to be invited to a special reception by the French Embassy in Riga. “It all started with an entirely chance encounter between our class and an attaché from the Embassy in the beginning of the semester at the University of Vidzeme. A few months later, in April, we were invited to the home of the ambassador, Stéphane Visconti, along with other exchange students, interns, and international volunteers! The reception, attended by the ambassador as well as several of his colleagues and Embassy employees, was a huge success. It was followed by a magnificent banquet featuring delicious French products, including a selection of cheeses, meats, pâtés, baguette bread, wines, and champagnes.”
ESME Sudria has been a proud partner of the Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences since 2013. Like Thomas, more than 50 ESME Sudria students have already completed their semester abroad there.