Meet the exchange students
It’s back to school time! But across Europe thousands of students will not be heading back to their home university, but rather packing their bags for a study exchange abroad. For many it’s a life-changing experience.
Today we are launching a new series featuring some of the personal stories from Polish students recently returned from exchanges with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway supported under the EEA Grants Scholarship and Training Fund.
First up we meet Barbara Kulpa, a student at the Warsaw School of Economics who took part in an exchange with the University of Liechtenstein in Vaduz. She is one of 8 students who chose Vaduz as their host city.
Marion Kindle-Kühnis from the Agency for International Education Affairs in Liechtenstein told us: “It is very important to give youth a chance to study abroad for a while to learn about other cultures, people and school systems. Participants in the scholarship programmes from Liechtenstein are enthusiastic about working with partners from other countries.”
The Agency is the donor programme partner in scholarship programmes in nine beneficiary countries.
Barbara found the exchange a very rewarding experience, not only academically but also personally and socially. Read more about what the opportuntity meant for her in her own words below:
Why did you decide to participate in the exchange?
Mainly because of reputation of the university and my course - entrepreneurship and because of the quite untypical political system - it was my dream to see how such small country is able to function.
What knowledge and skills do you feel that you gained during your exchange that you wouldn’t have otherwise?
I learnt that I have to believe in myself and my abilities. I learnt be open minded and use all opportunities that I have. Now I am more patient and aware of red tape everywhere. It was the best chance for me to use English and German languages. Even if something seems to be impossible – such as organising US visa in the American embassy in Bern for student from Liechtenstein who comes from Poland - everything is possible if you are self-confident and know what you want.
Do any events or experiences from your stay really stand out in your memory?
For me the most interesting story was taking part in journey to US. It was organised as a part of one module. It was challenge for me because I was the only student who needed visa for this journey. The trip was a great experience for me. We took part in the meetings with entrepreneurs from Sillicon Valley in California. We had very busy schedule but I had also time to see San Francisco where we stayed and got to know my colleagues better – we still keep in contact. After this week I travelled about California with four friends.
Did you get in involved in any extra-curricular activities or pursue any interests while you were there?
I was a member of the team which prepared interviews and reportages about the political system in Liechtenstein. I organised interviews with politicians in German language. I also wrote an article for the Poland Times newspaper about the life in Liechtenstein.
Last year 205 students from 31 Polish universities took part in exchanges funded by the EEA and Norway Grants with institutions in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
“Our latest figures show that the appetite continues to grow. With each passing year, more and more exchanges are taking place. There are more and more contacts developing between institutions and cooperation is ever growing,” said Director of the Polish Scholarship and Training Fund, Katarzyna Aleksandrowicz.