Erasmus+: Europe Visits AUBG




Erasmus+ is the combination of studying in a different country, being curious enough to leave everything behind in the name of exploring new horizons, and diving head first into the unknown. Whether you go alone or with a small group of friends, there is one thing about the Erasmus+ programme that makes it unique; the culture that you bring with you meets the traditions of your new home. Studying abroad means getting to know new people, enrolling in classes that may not be available back home, dealing with dynamic environments, and above all it means discovering new things about yourself. Even if you have been suspicious of the new place initially, the time spent there may turn out to be one of the best periods in your academic life. If it does not, the experience gained and the new things learned become valuable life lessons. Each year Europe visits AUBG through the Erasmus+ exchange programme. Let’s explore a portion of the countries living on campus this semester.  

The first encounter is with the Netherlands. Meet Jet van der Kolk.

Jet van der Kolk, the Netherlands, Photo courtesy of Jet van der Kolk.

Hi, Jet, could you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Yes, of course. My name is Jet van der Kolk. I am from Heemskerk, Netherlands. I am a third-year student in my first semester and my university is the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

So, is everything we have heard about the Netherlands true?

Pretty much, yes. I guess to some extent it makes things calmer because there is no unnecessary tension when it comes to this.

Alright, what is your major?

My major is European studies with German and Spanish languages.

Are you planning to go somewhere else on Erasmus or have you been somewhere already?

This is my first Erasmus semester and I plan on going on an internship in Spain.

What classes are you taking in AUBG?

Byzantine History, Women in the Islamic state, Intermediate Spanish, Bulgarian for Beginners, and European Studies.

Any thoughts on Bulgarian as a language?

I would have to say that Bulgarian is extremely hard to learn but it is interesting for me.

Why did you decide to come to AUBG?

First, because I am paying my tuition myself and the tuition fee here is not that high. Second, I love playing sports, especially handball. We have a team back home and I saw that here I can play handball. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed because it turned out that nobody plays handball here.

Truth be told, football is the most popular sport in Bulgaria and unless you organize with friends, it would be difficult to play handball here. What will you remember from your stay here?

All of the Erasmus students are friends here. We eat, drink, party together. This is what I like the most.

What was the most interesting thing that happened to you during your stay?

It was really strange for me that other people offer to buy you drinks in the club. So maybe that and one more thing: I actually received a box with Bulgarian stuff inside and there was rakia inside. It is an odd drink (laughing).

I have to agree on that. So, tell me three words about yourself that think describe you best.

Impatient, restless, sarcastic.  

Meet Ireland and Andrew Beltran.

Andrew Beltran, Ireland, photo courtesy of Andrew Beltran.

Where are you from? 

I am from Galway, Ireland.

What would you tell me if I asked you to describe your country to me as a person, who had never been there?

That would definitely be the Irish culture: the music and the dancing.

What is the name of your alma mater?

I am studying in the University of Limerick.

What is your standing?

I am in my third year and this is my first semester.

What is your major?

Politics and Sociology.

Have you been somewhere else on Erasmus?

Actually, I have already done my internship and this will be my only Erasmus semester.

What courses are you taking here in AUBG?

Global Politics, EU Integration to Diplomacy, Spanish, and Introduction to Politics.

Why AUBG?

Initially, I wanted to go to America, to California. However, they want you to have seven thousand euros in your account in order to leave, which is a lot. Then I found AUBG and I decided to come here because I wanted to have the American University experience.

What will you remember from your stay here?

Well, that might sounds strange but I will remember the Soviet Party. It was awesome. The second thing is the experience with the AUBG Griffins. I have played rugby back home but this is my first time playing American football and I think that is the best part of my stay here.

Tell me something interesting that happened to you here or something that left an impression on you.

It is extremely strange for me that the buildings in the city are the same almost everywhere. Back home it is quite different.

Could you tell me three words about yourself that think describe you best?

Funny, outgoing, open-minded.

Our third stop is GermanyMeet Toni Harriel.

Toni Harriel, Germany, photo courtesy of Toni Harriel.

Where are you from, Toni?

I am from Bamberg, Germany.

Could you tell me something about your country?

It is really cold and German grammar is horrifying!

What is the name of your university?

Otto-Friedrich University in Bamberg.

What are your standing and major?

I am in my first semester, third year. I am a senior because the Bachelor’s degree back home is three years. My major is Economics.

Are you going or have you been somewhere else on Erasmus?

No, the Erasmus here will be the only one for me.

What courses are you taking in AUBG?

International Trade, Money and Banking, Corporate Finance, Business Ethics, and Organisational Theory and Behaviour.

Why AUBG?

I wanted to go to Ireland but I was not able to. I looked for other universities and I found AUBG. I wanted to have the American experience and that is how I decided to come.

What will you remember from your stay here?

The openness of people here. Everyone here is happy to help.

What is the most interesting thing that happened to you during your time here?

I would have to say the openness of people again. I like the small classes where you can actually talk to each other and the professor. Back home I have had classes with four hundred people and people do not really talk to others. It is quite different here and I like it a lot.

Could you tell me three words about yourself that think describe you best?

Tequila, shy, nerdy.

Moving on to NorwayMeet Erling Rognhaugen.

Erling Rognhaugen, Norway, photo courtesy of Erling Rognhaugen

Hi, Erling, where you are from?

Hi! I am from Kristiansand, Norway. It is South, near the sea.

What would you tell about Norway to a person, who had never been there but wants to go?

Nature. People are always outside. Whether it is during the Summer or the Winter, the nature in Norway is amazing.

What is your university back home?

Volda Univeristy College.

What is your standing?

I am in my second year, first semester.

What is your major?

Journalism.

Are you going or have you been somewhere else on Erasmus?

No, this is my first semester on Erasmus.

What courses are you taking in AUBG?

Journalism, Personality Psychology, Social Psychology, EU Politics, and Programming in Python.

Have you dealt with programming before? Is it interesting?

I do not have much experience but it is really interesting for me to learn new things.

Why AUBG?

I wanted to use my Erasmus to have an experience most people will not get. I wanted to go to a country most people have not visited. Furthermore, I wanted to connect to Eastern Europe.

What will you remember from your stay here?

The openness of people. This is what I will take with me. People here are curious about me and people from other countries. We can actually have a cultural exchange, which is the purpose of Erasmus in the first place.

What is the most interesting thing that happened to you here?

I am coming from a military service in Norway and back home there is this notion that Russia is the only enemy Norway might have. I am not talking about propaganda, do not get me wrong. However, the public opinion is that if Norway ever has an issue with another foreign country that would be Russia. I did not know what to expect but I met a lot of Russian people and they are all extremely loving and caring. So I understood that we are all humans and are not that different after all.

Could you tell me three words about yourself that think describe you best?

Traveler, brother, curious.

Is there anything you would like to share?

Maybe something about Christmas?

Yes, that sounds lovely. How do you celebrate it in Norway?

Well, most of the people who live in the inner part of the country eat meat, the rest who are closer to the sea eat fish. There is one little tradition that we have. We prepare rice with milk and we put butter, sugar and cinnamon inside. We also add an almond nut. The idea is that whoever has the almond nut (we put only one) wins a chocolate as a prize. We want others to eat as much as possible from their portions so even if someone finds the nut, they pretend they do not have it so others can continue eating and hoping they will get it.

Our final European stop in AUBG is SpainMeet Cristina García Hernández.

Cristina Garcia Hernandez, Spain, photo courtesy of Cristina Garcia Hernandez.

Could you tell me something about yourself?

Yes, my name is Cristina Garcia Hernandez and I am from Madrid, Spain. I was actually born in Barcelona but I live in Madrid.

Which city you like more?

Madrid. All my memories and friends are there.

Could you tell me something about your country?

Spain is a sunny place. We have good weather and amazing food. I really miss the food. People are open – everybody talks to everybody.

What is your alma mater?

Complutense University of Madrid.

What is your standing?

I am in my third year, first semester.

What is your major?

Journalism and Mass Communication.

Are you going or have you been somewhere else on Erasmus?

I am actually staying here for one year. This is my first semester in AUBG and I will be here in the Spring, as well.

What courses are you taking in AUBG?

Introduction to Videojournalism, Writing for Media, Communication, Media and Society, and Digital Photojournalism. I have friends in Spain who were here on Erasmus and they recommended me some of the courses. Everything I have learned so far is great. Back in Spain we study more theory but here, for one semester I learned to do so many new things and the experience is priceless. My friends advised me to take as many courses as I can with Professor Kelly. She is amazing.

Why AUBG?

I actually wanted to go to Denmark, Finland, or UK but did not make it. I found AUBG and I saw it was an American University away from home. I wanted to go to a place where they teach in English. Therefore, I just did it. No hesitation, no overthinking it. I just came here.

What will you remember from your stay here?

My stay here is one of the best things that have happened to me. I changed a lot, I am more open-minded now. The openness of people here in AUBG is great. There is always someone willing to help or assist if you need anything. I am having a lot of fun and I am happy that I have one more semester coming. And, of course, I will remember beer pong.

What was the most interesting thing that happened to you?

Well, that is a strange story. There was a party here in Skaptopara II in the party room. We were playing beer pong and I had a great time. I remember going back to my room, putting my PJs on and going to bed. The next morning, when I woke up, I went to the bathroom and I found my PJs in the shower. I have no idea how that happened and my roommate was just as surprised as I was.

Could you tell me three words about yourself that think describe you best?

Procrastinator, feminist, down to earth.

If your desired exchange destination is Europe, Erasmus+ provides multiple opportunities to explore new worlds.  

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