I have been thinking as a student myself  that the basic idea of being a student is to upgrade your knowledge and to develop your thinking as a young individual. But also to share thoughts with other students, to explore, to see, to listen and to be the witness of the cultural diversity in the world .This is exactly what the ERASMUS program, launched by the European Union in 1987, offers to young people.  . It is truly important that Macedonian students are motivated to take part in this experience and see the bigger picture, like 2.2 million of young people have done in the 24 years of existence of the ERASMUS Program.

Erasmus Bridge-Rotterdam, Netherlands

Below is an interview with my friend Arttu Tuomiranta from Finland. We had a chance to meet on a summer language course in Aachen, Germany in 2010.  Arttu is studying Strategy and International Business/Advanced Energy Systems and his dream is to work as a renewable energy consultant one day.

Q: Well first things first, where and when did you go on Erasmus Exchange?

A: I spent my Erasmus semester at the University of Stuttgart in Germany. I moved to Stuttgart in early April and came back to Finland in August.

Q:  Why did you decide to apply and how did you choose the host University of the ERASMUS exchange?

A: In my Master’s programme, it is strongly recommended to spend a semester or two at a foreign university. It was clear to me from my very first semester that I would spend part of my studies abroad. I think the most important benefits of exchange programmes are the opportunities to develop one’s language skills and to deeply familiarize oneself with new cultures.

I selected the University of Stuttgart solely on grounds of my academic goals. Firstly, I wanted to improve my knowledge of German and secondly, I wanted to study at a university offering a wide range of advanced courses related to renewable energy. In my future profession, I would like to focus on the business related to renewable energy technologies. In Finland, the research of these technologies is not on such a high level as in Germany.

Q: Do you see the Erasmus Exchange Program me as a learning or fun experience?

A: I think my Erasmus exchange semester was one of the most educational periods in my student days so far. Before and in the beginning of the semester, I expected the summer to be an amazing learning experience – mainly from the viewpoint of my language skills. Towards the end however, I realized that besides the language, the most important learning outcome of the semester was a better understanding of people coming from so many different corners of the world. This understanding was not gained by attending lectures but by having fun, during trips and attending social events . Of course, the interesting courses strongly contributed to my contentment with the semester but I’m sure that without the active student life, the experience would not have made this kind of impression on me. I see my Erasmus program as a great learning experience with lots of fun.

Q: What influence do you think that this exchange period will have on your future professional life?

A: I hope that one day, I will work in Germany. My exchange period in Stuttgart will certainly make it easier for me to accomplish my goal. Additionally, I firmly believe that it will be a great benefit also on my career that my Erasmus friends comprise such a culturally diverse bunch of future engineers and business administrators.

Q: We met on a summer language course in Germany in 2010. Since you are active and regular on those kind of events tell me what is your perception of Macedonia and Macedonian students from what you have seen so far?

A: As far as I know, there were no Macedonian students in my Erasmus programme in Stuttgart in summer 2010. On grounds of my previous experiences however, I can claim that it’s hard to find as happy and optimistic people as the Macedonians. They have an ability to also make the people around them happy. Maybe that’s the reason why there is a big yellow sun on the flag of Macedonia. 🙂

Q: Do you think that the mobility of students has an influence in creating a better Europe?

A: That’s for sure. Today’s students are tomorrow’s decision-makers. Through programs such as Erasmus, students are able to familiarize themselves with new cultures and to learn to understand values and ways of thinking of other nationalities. In that way, today’s students become tolerant decision-makers with a sense of international solidarity.

Q:  What are your future plans for studying and did your Erasmus experience have an effect  on your decision about where you will go next?

A: At the moment, I am studying at a new Abu Dhabi-based university focusing on renewable energies. After finishing my Master’s degree here, I’ll go back to Finland to finish my Master’s degree there.

My Erasmus semester in Germany didn’t influence my decision to come to Abu Dhabi. However, I believe that due to my great time in Stuttgart it was easier for me to  adjust in the new study abroad environment. You see I will go back one way or another.

Q: Ljupka Noveska

A: Arttu Tuomiranta