Last semester all international degree-students were invited to a seminar “Twenty years of English-Language Studies at the University of Tartu: What’s next?”, and I heard something very surprising for me. The opening speech was given by Prof. Jaak Aaviksoo, the Minister of Education and Research and he said that not only European students should go abroad but they must do it, and he even added that they should not only go studying through exchange program but become degree-seeking students in another country.
I was stunned…you would never see the French Minister of Education claiming that !
The point is that Mr Aaviksoo is completely right; we should all take the chance to go abroad for a while, even just one semester.
Already in the 16th century, Montaigne the French philosopher claimed that « les voyages forment la jeunesse » (travel broadens the mind) and it has been particularly true in my case.
As many other students, I have use my third year of bachelor to become an erasmus exchange student and thus I spent two semesters at a Swedish university at the heart of southern Sweden surrounded by lakes and forests (and moose!). After this wonderful erasmus year, I knew I would not go back to France to study or work before a while…and indeed I directly went to Germany to do an internship and then work there for one year. I definitely got the « moving » fever and I then chose to do my master studies in this mysterious small country of Estonia and said bye bye to my application to master studies in France.
The I thought at last I will settle a bit for my studies but of course not, because I found again the academic opportunity, while studying in Estonia to do an exchange semester in Finland… ! Because yes, University of Tartu offers so much opportunities to take part into an exchange programs – take a look at the university website and check the super long list of partner universities.
Of course, going abroad and for a long period of time is a big step in one’s life, you go from your “comfort” zone, arrive in a new place, with new faces, new culture, new food (very important!), new language…It can be a bit scary at the beginning, but it is what is so exciting about it!
When people ask me why I don’t want to come back to France and why do I really love living abroad, I just naturally answered that while living abroad, you’re learning something new everyday: about the country you’re living in, the people, different cultures, new languages etc…
Living abroad definitely opens your mind and it teaches you how to be more tolerant, improves your faculty to adapt, you become more independent and you meet wonderful people from all over the world! It gives you also this critical distance that a lot of people are unfortunately lacking, towards yourself, the others, your country and culture etc…
I have learned a lot from each country I have lived in and from each person I have met there, and as surprising as it can be I have learned also about my country, my culture and me.
So as the Estonian Minister of Education and Research said, you MUST go abroad, it will enrich you! I definitely caught the “moving” fever and my foreign experience is far from ending!