Erasmus experiences-incoming students

Pei-Ting,Huang/ Taiwan/ National Cheng Kong University/ 2015/2016 winter semester

I’m always looking for brand new challenge. In an honest way to say – I get bored easily. Surviving in foreign country for one semester without the protection of parents sounds not only challenging but also exciting. Being on exchange program at the third year of bachelor degree had been on my life plan since I was little. “But, Why Croatia?” No matter where I went who I met, this was always the first question that people asked me. “Well….I chose Croatia only because my best friend said that Croatia sounds cool. So here I am!” this was always my answer. Indeed, we, Taiwanese, knows a lot about Eastern Europe, but almost none about Croatia. With my “overloaded” curiosity, I hopped on plane and started my adventure. It’s not only about academic purpose, it’s about life. Though sometimes I complained about the slow tram in Zagreb, I’m deeply in love with this amazing city. I enjoyed all the cozy times having coffee with a slice of sunshine. I had fun discovering the best apple pie in Zagreb. I like the course which professor brought us exploring Zagreb by foot. I made my Taiwanese jealous by showing of the price by using student card in Menza. I felt lucky that I met awesome friends from all over the world here. They played an big role of my vivid life here. The city that people in loved with is always the place where the people that they love are. After this 6 months long exchange life, I became more mature and more opened minded. I believe this is the best gift that I gave myself for my 21 birthday. It’s really a life changing experience.

Dominykas Graibus Vytautas Magnus University 2012/13

On the first day in my home university I was most definitely sure that someday I will set on a journey named Erasmus. Not long after, this dream came true and thanks to a very pleasant misunderstanding at the last minute I changed my destination from Germany to the capital of Croatia – Zagreb.

I will be honest, my first intentions were not studies. The main reasons why I was so enthusiastic about Erasmus was the desire to explore Europe by trips and new acquaintances. I was so excited to go there that I ignored all the facts that should have worried me. For example little knowledge about Croatia or that I have never been abroad alone for such a long period of time. Nevertheless a wish for changes passed of all the worries.

I thought that the scariest thing will be adaptation but for me it was fairly easy. Student organisation ESN Zagreb and my mentor Alen helped me a lot. The map I was given was the most useful thing ever! I kept losing my location three times a day but that was the best way to familiarize with a new place. Discoveries were made on each step because the differences were felt everywhere: from interesting Croatia’s history and culture to sometimes strange local habits and unexpected higher education system. For example, I have exchanged massive Lithuanian auditoriums to small but quality orientated classes with only Croatian students. This environment has really put me to the test!                                                                                                             

When I had time between exams and tests a marathon of trips and parties took place. But those parties were a bit different than ones back home. Here I had to test my unexpectedly poor English knowledge in order to familiarize with all of those interesting people. Those small-talks gave us a great opportunity to laugh about each other’s stereotypes and most important to understand that they do not exist. Spending time with the same minded, adventurous people resulted in trips worth writing a movie script. Now I am happy to have friends in different places of the World which I could visit while travelling.

As funny as it sounds “post Erasmus syndrome” exists. In the end I had to cry out many “goodbyes” to everybody I got close to and went back to a normal, slow-pace life. Yes it was a hard cut-off but every good thing has to come to an end. Now I can firmly state – Erasmus was the best time of my life! One semester in Zagreb gave me a lot more than I expected in the beginning. I grew myself as a more confident and motivated person. After having it experienced on my own I would like to encourage everyone to try this life changing opportunity. Overcome your limitations and enjoy the unforgettable Erasmus experience!

Sonja Kralj University of Klagenfurt 2012/2013

My exchange semester in Zagreb was definitely a fantastic time. It all started in the beginning of 2012, when the BIB offered me a place in Croatia. I chose Zagreb because I knew the city already from earlier visits, but never spent a longer time there. In the end of September, before the beginning of the semester, Zagreb’s International Relations Office organized an orientation week, during which we visited the national and university library (NSK, www.nsk.hr), the botanical garden and made a trip to the coastal town of Zadar. The coordinator in charge in the central International Relations Office of the University of Zagreb is Ms. Željka Pitner (zeljka.pitner@unizg.hr) who informs about organizational procedures and gives each student a to‐do‐list in a meeting. In my case this was quite complicated because I wanted to attend courses at different faculties. This is not very common and was thus difficult because the faculties are very independent from each other and one needs for example a separate learning agreement for each of them, which I did not know before. Furthermore, every faculty has its own international office which every exchange student has to go to in order to enroll. For that everybody has to buy the Indeks, a small book in which all courses and grades will be written. Besides, it is recommendable to think about buying a card for the public transport (trams and buses) for 30 HRK. In order to get such a card, one has to go with a stamped form of the international office to the central office of the transport company ZET (Zagrebački električni tramvaj). A monthly fee of 120 HRK is necessary to be able to use the transport unlimitedly.
In my opinion it is useful to have such a card because there are frequent controls in the trams. Exchange students also get support from different student organizations, above all ESN Zagreb which one can contact in the case of any problems, room search etc. Besides, its members organize trips, museum and sports events visits, parties and much more. At the Faculty of Economics and Business, there is the organization eStudent, which also organizes events and connects every exchange student with a local mentor. In contrast to most other exchange students, who mostly live in the student dormitories Cvjetno naselje and Stjepan Radić, my two colleagues from Klagenfurt and me decided to look for a flat. Because this decision had been clear for us for a long time, we had enough time to search and drove therefore for a weekend to Zagreb in August. Before that, we looked through pages like www.njuskalo.hr and www.oglasnik.hr and also contacted several real estate agencies. We selected a spacious, two‐storey flat with four rooms in the neighbourhood Tuškanac, only two tram stops away from the main square Trg Bana Josipa Jelačića. We paid together 700€ monthly, plus costs for electricity and heating. Nevertheless, it is in general no problem to find cheaper flats in Zagreb and the offer is large. The University of Zagreb has more than 30 faculties and is thus a lot bigger than the University of Klagenfurt. It is not a campus university because the faculties are dispersed over the whole city. I went to three faculties, as I had to take courses from the fields of business and culture for my master programme International Management. This is why I attended the Faculty of Economics and Business (Ekonomski fakultet, EFZG), the Faculty of Philosophy (Filozofski fakultet, FFZG) and the Centre for Croatian Studies (Hrvatski studiji).

The EFZG is located in the eastern part of Zagreb (Maksimir) and offers a whole bachelor programme in English from which exchange students can take classes. Unfortunately, until this semester there was no English master programme, but it was possible for me to take advanced bachelor courses. The FFZG is located near the main railway station. The Centre for Croatian Studies is a quite new part of the university and is situated on the Kampus Borongaj at which there are several faculties. Unfortunately, this campus is remotely located as it was a military base before. During my semester abroad I attended the following courses: MARKETING INNOVATION (EFZG, 4 ECTS, 2 hours per week, Prof. Goran Vlašić)
A work intensive, but very interesting course, whose professor already gave a lecture to us IM students during our study excursion in spring 2012. It consisted of two exams, one midterm and one final exam, an individual paper, two summaries of eight scientific journal articles as well as a group project with paper and presentation about the introduction of a new newspaper to the Croatian market. Although this class was quite demanding, I learned a lot and the enthusiastic professor was able to present the topics in a connected and interactive way. The course is part of the English bachelor programme BDIB. UPRAVLJANJE MARKOM (Brand Management, EFZG, 4 ECTS, 2 hours per week, Prof.Đurđana Ozretić Došen and colleagues) Lecture on master level, in Croatian. Although some of the content was already known to me, it was an interesting course. The students were integrated in the class and examples were very practical and current.


HRVATSKA GLAZBA U KONTEKSTU EUROPSKE GLAZBENE KULTURE (Croatian Music in the Context of the European Music Culture, Hrvatski studiji, 5 ECTS, 2 hours per week, Prof. Stanislav Tuksar) Lecture with exam at the end, in Croatian. The professor’s lecturing style was quite boring (no picture material etc.), but it was a good overview over the topic. CROATICUM (FFZG, Dr. Milvia Gulešić Machata, 14 ECTS, 13 hours per week) Since I absolutely wanted to improve my language skills, but there was unfortunately, like usual in the last years, no two hour course for exchange students, I decided to take the full semestral course at the Croaticum. The Croaticum offers different courses for different
levels. Most students, like me, attend the intensive semestral course with, depending on the level, class five to four times a week à three hours. This course is with 600€ very expensive for students who do not study Croatian (Slavistic students pay much less). The levels range from A1 (beginners) to 3B. After a written and oral placement test I was assigned to level 3A (lower advanced level). In my class there were 13 students from all over the world and we had an amazing lector. I really enjoyed the group atmosphere together with the many activities like museum, fair or concert visits which the Croaticum organized. Besides grammar, we discussed interesting current topics and read a contemporary novel whose author was the guest of a literary evening at the Croaticum. In addition to the language classes, phonetics and cultural lectures are offered. I was also part of the Croaticum klapa (traditional Dalmatian a‐capella singing group) whose organization could have been better in the beginning, but we practiced a lot in the end and performed at the final ceremony of the Croaticum.

Contact persons at the different faculties are:

  • Ms.Irena Šimek (isimek@efzg.hr) at the Ekonomski fakultet
  • Ms. Danijela Vnučec Grdović (dvnucec@hrstud.hr) at Hrvatski studiji
  • Ms. Nikolina Sokolić (croaticum@ffzg.hr) at the Croaticum.

As a student in Zagreb it is usual to eat at a student restaurant. Many faculties have a restaurant,besides there is e.g. the centrally located Studentski centar with three restaurants. With the card X‐ica students get a very high discount on the food, so that one usually pays only around 6 HRK (less than 1 €) for a lunch. In contrast to Erasmus students, I did not receive an X‐ica as a joint study student. However, it was possible to temporarily use other students’ cards, as it is not strictly monitored and as most students cannot spend all their credit. With regard to groceries from the supermarket, prices are to a large extent comparable to Austria. Therefore, many students stock up on fruits, milk, juice or yoghurt from the student restaurants at X‐ica prices. In order to organize my finances I opened a bank account at the Privredna Banka Zagreb (PBZ). I did not have to spend much money on books, as none was required, besides the novel we read in the Croatian course. Having so many students it is clear that Zagreb has a big student life which is often concentrated on the student dormitories. During one’s free time one can enjoy the locals’ favourite activity and sit for hours in a café, above all when the sun is shining.

Another leisure activity is travelling. During my stay in Zagreb I travelled to twice to Belgrade(once by train and once by bus organized by ESN along with stops in Osijek, Vukovar and Novi Sad), to Zadar (part of the orientation week), to the Plitvice lakes (organized by ESN – beautiful during autumn) and to Budapest (via a travel agency) Plitvice Zadar.

To sum up, I can say that the semester abroad in Zagreb was, despite of some organizational and administrative difficulties, a great experience because I was finally able to live in Croatia for a longer period and get to know the culture better. I do not at all regret going there and can definitely recommend Zagreb as an exchange destination! Tijekom zimskog semestra 2012/13 sam studirala na Sveučilištu u Zagrebu i mogu reći da je bilo jako korisno i nezaboravno iskustvo. Svima koji razmišljaju o razmjeni željela bih srdačno preporučiti da provedu semestar ili dva u lijepom i raznolikom gradu Zagrebu!

Hui Ping Clara Cho   National University of Singapore 2012./2013.

2013 was a very memorable year as a student at the University of Zagreb in Croatia. Having lived for 5 months in the capital of Croatia has inspired me greatly in many ways. The myriad of experiences gained, be it attending classes with Croats and other European students on the Erasmus Programme, or planning a short getaway over the weekend to some exotic part of Europe, to sharing stories with your roommate from a different country; all these opened up opportunities to meet new people, make new friends and eventually rooting those emotional strings of attachment where you call this place your second home and where you find your second family.

My academic experience has been inspiring. I was taught by knowledgeable professors from the Centre for Croatian Studies, who are passionate about their fields of expertise. In exchange, they gave me opportunities to share about my life in Singapore, as a student and as a citizen from Singapore. They were open to understanding new, exotic cultures that were less existent in their everyday lives. I admire how the examination system in Croatia, and Europe in general works; where students are able to sit for oral exams and even have the liberty to negotiate the timing of the exam with the professors. Back home, exams are conducted in massive halls. Such a personal touch to the way students are tested on their material is something to be lauded. In general, coordinating all administrative matters relating to academia was slightly troublesome initially, but towards the end it was facilitated smoothly.

To conclude, my experience in Europe was out of this world. I could not have asked for a better ‘family’ to pass my time with, a better environment to experience and better continent to begin my travel adventure. As a student of European Studies, I am even more convinced of the beauty that lies within Europe. Five months, to the ears, sound long. In reality, the brevity of it is just insufficient to truly enjoy what Europe and in particular, Croatia has to offer. I will be back for more.

Eun Ji Choi Nacionalno sveučilište Chonnam 2012./13

Frankly, I never imagined that i will go to Zagreb as a exchange student. Especially for Korean, Croatia is not the country which is familiar. I still don’t know why i chose Croatia at that time. Maybe i was just attracted by beautiful sceneries of this country. But now I am sure that it was one of the most excellent choices in my life. There are always friendly people who have intrest on me. Professors have lots of passion and Coordinators gave me so many helps and attentions. Also there are many special experiences, such as party, clubbing and travel. I can tell you that i fully enjoyed my exchange student life because of the programmes of University of Zagreb. Croatia and Zagreb is just amazing. They got the most sweet and strong alcohol(I am sorry to refer alcohol beverage but it is so damn good) and believe me, Croatia is one of the most beautiful country in the whole world. You will get it if you go to Dubrovnik which is southern part of Croatia. Good classes, lovely beverages and amazing travel spot. I bet that they got every thing you want as a Erasmus.

 

Andrea López Mendoza -Universidad de Guadalajara 2016./2017.

 

Perhaps one never knows how much a place has taught us until we are back home. I attended the analytic philosophy department, in the Centre for Croatian Studies, with the desire to learn better research methods and new philosophical problems arising from the advances in science and the global processes. And so I did, I learned more that I could have imagined regarding the professionalisation of philosophy and social sciences, as the classes were inter-disciplinary as much as they were international. That cooperation, academic and human, was probably just one of the manifestation of the Croatian culture in general, as I felt the way the city worked involved a deeper synchrony than it could be thought at first.

As a Mexican, I felt the differences between our countries, and I wish we understood as much as Croatia how important it is to promote cooperation in every level of society: It is not only being an international country, where there is no discrimination to the place one comes from, or thinking all academic fields can work together, or having each citizen have a great education, or that violence exists only through the media. Perhaps it is the deeper belief that we are all human and alike, that we all deserve to be helped when in need, that there is no language for kindness and that great things can be made if we work together.

I went there thinking about the educational and academic aspects, but I came back knowing that, in order to have a good student or a good professor/researcher, we first need to have good people that live in peace with no threats whatsoever. That education is only possible on a humanitarian basis and makes possible being human(itarian). I am thankful to the University of Zagreb and the University of Guadalajara for giving me the opportunity to learn from another way of life, and that a peaceful society is possible.

 


Informations

Hrvatski studiji Sveučilišta u Zagrebu pokrenuti su i ustrojeni 16. studenoga 1992., isprva samo kao dvosemestralni Sveučilišni komparativni studij hrvatske filozofije i društva. Taj je program potom preoblikovan u program redovitog četverogodišnjeg studija.

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