The Truth about EMTM
October, 26 2020
Studying abroad is an
amazing experience. Personal development is a lifelong process and it is at
maximum speed during this time. You have no other option; the status quo is
broken. You are away from home, not only getting used to a different culture, a
new lifestyle, people, and food, but also, to a new academic system and way of
learning. Certainly, the adaptation process is different for everybody, some of
us have more openness to changes and others may have more difficulties,
however, it is always time and energy-consuming. So, how is it like when you
have to do it every semester, for the next one or two years?
Coming from a Latin American country, it was quite interesting to adapt to the Nordic mind-set, where constructivism is the favourite paradigm: there are many truths and there could be many ways to contribute to the world’s main issues. In my home country, the education system has a quite positivist view: you learn theories by heart and then you try to prove that you understand them by solving exams or making presentations. In Denmark, it was about reading a bunch of articles so you can make your conclusions and construct your own reality. I know that for some of my colleagues this was very abstract and hard to adapt to, it depends on how you like to learn. In multi-national programmes, one ends up having an affinity for one system above the others. This is interesting because it helps you understand which country would be more appropriate for you in terms of career development.
Sometimes it is not easy to keep up with the different learning processes. When you feel like you understand how things work, you are already in another university. In Denmark, we had different subjects at the same time and exams were a brief face-to-face discussion with professors, which was challenging, after being used to hand-written exams. Then in Slovenia, the program is planned for two weeks of classes on the same subject, then one week to study for the exam, and then continue with the next subject. In Spain, we have to read all the content before the semester starts: fifty-five research articles so that when the classes begin we can have teamwork projects instead of normal lectures.
By studying with professors from different countries, one can have a better understanding of how their position changes according to their background and culture, so later you can reflect on your own and make your own conclusions. By sharing with students from all over the world, you can see the diversity of points of view related to the same topic, which will depend on what they have experienced, mostly in their home countries. Sharing ideas in an international environment is always enriching. You end up having a wider view of how people see and understand the world. This makes you recognise your own position, which is neither worse nor better, it is your tool to make decisions.
I would say that multi-country study programs give you a sense of community. Even when you think you already have it, by living in different countries in such a short time frame and by socializing in an international environment, you realize the plurality of the world and how each piece contributes to the whole construction of our society. By comparing cultures, one can understand more of their own culture and feel more connected to it.
Relationships are also important when talking about this kind of program. You are going through this process together with a group of people; you are not alone. In the end, they are having the same experiences and dealing with the same problems as you. In a way, they become your family.
Travelling around is also a plus. In each country, you are both a resident and a tourist. You feel like a visitor, but you also feel at home. One has to realize that, most probably, you will live somewhere else during the summer or winter break, sometimes it is not even possible to go back home. So, it is a long journey where you are always discovering new places.
In the end, people who study in a multi-country program develop an ability to adapt. You learn to change together with the circumstances. Adaptation is not only being aware of all the differences, but also about being aware of who you are, understanding the context, and trying to merge in a new society to add value.
The negative aspects? I would say missing friends and family and having to find a new apartment every four months. That’s all.
Written by Alejandra Rojas, Student of EMTM Generation 2019-2021.