The value of international experiences for SNSPA's CIVICA Ambassadors and exchange students
SNSPA has exchange agreements with a wide range of universities throughout the world. Students from partner universities come to study at our university for a semester or an academic year. Additionally, SNSPA's membership in CIVICA creates even more opportunities for our students to interact with peers from across Europe.
We wanted to find out directly from the students what these exchanges and collaborations mean to them. We talked to Camila Rique, an incoming exchange student from Brazil, and Teodora Mitrulescu and Roxana Irod, our CIVICA Ambassadors.
A world citizen
Camila Rique is an Erasmus exchange student from Brazil. On her experience of studying at SNSPA, she says:
"I come from a large university with several campuses in different cities within my country. At SNSPA, I ended up interacting with students in other areas than mine, the social sciences. This was probably the most significant difference, along with free speech on several topics that Brazilians would not publicly talk about. Even though I felt like an outsider for a few weeks, everyone helped me to fit in as much as I could. My experience at SNSPA was so great that I started learning and studying a different area for my bachelor thesis. I am still learning the Romanian language, and if everything goes well, soon I will be back for my master's degree at SNSPA.
My time in Romania was my third exchange experience, and all of them helped me somehow in several aspects of my life. Studying abroad during my bachelor's helped me expand my horizons and knowledge in areas that I didn't know existed before. Thus, I changed my focus area. The experience also changed my perception of life, friendship, the sense of belonging. Before, I was just Brazilian, but today, I feel like a world citizen, holding lots of flags, fighting for education and respect. Some people think that studying abroad means travelling a lot, going to parties, skipping classes. Still, the point is, you know and feel when something changes inside you. Studying abroad is an opportunity that everybody should have because it shows us a different world outside our comfort zone."
Undergraduates Teodora Mitrulescu and Roxana Irod are the CIVICA Ambassadors at SNSPA. We asked them what communicating with peers from other European countries means to them.
Teodora: "Interaction with colleagues from other European countries means the opportunity to discover other perspectives. An international working environment helps me to develop my ideas from different points of view. It feels like a multicultural update that makes me find different ways or perspectives to see and analyse a fact. Online, I can say that is more difficult because we cannot feel each other's energy 100%. I can see the person, I can hear the others, but it feels like we still work separately and yet, at the same time, we are together. The online channels facilitate working groups, but the feeling is not the same as interacting face to face."
Roxana: "Any interaction, even the online one, means a lot to me. Keeping in touch with people, learning something new or looking for means to better yourself is increasingly important, especially during these times. More and more people feel isolated or even cut off from reality altogether. So I appreciated the opportunity to speak and interact with international students from all over Europe. I found out a lot of new information and got to broaden my perspective on many things."
A multicultural working and studying environment
On the meaning of SNSPA's membership in the CIVICA alliance, Teodora says: "The fact that SNSPA is part of the CIVICA alliance makes me feel included in a multicultural working and studying environment. I can get involved in international projects that allow me to think differently, find solutions and ideas for developing the academic environment, and improve my educational experience. At the same time, I may get in touch and work with people from other European countries to share ideas and points of view and develop projects or strategies for our universities."
Roxana adds: "For me, it means an opportunity! CIVICA has already opened many doors for me, and I feel like many more are yet to be opened. Through the discussions and presentations that the other students held, I looked at the partner institutions. I was pleasantly surprised by the multitude of projects and student-led initiatives that sprung from this partnership, as well as the incredible support given for any future ideas!"
Interview conducted by Catalin Mosoia (SNSPA)
Photo (from left to right): Camila Rique, Roxana Irod, Teodora Mitrulescu