How good is the Valparaiso University
My semester abroad - an experience for life!
04/11/2015 | News_INF
Ezziddien Sarris studied for one semester in Valparaíso in the USA. Before that, a semester abroad was not really important to the business informatics student. Now he says, "Definitely do it. It's an experience of a lifetime."
Ezziddien Sarris came up with the idea of going abroad for a semester through a scholarship from the Josef Eberle Foundation in Rottenburg, which he had seen by chance. It sounded interesting and that's when I applied and got it in the end, says the business informatics student today.
At first you feel alone
At the beginning of his stay abroad in the USA, Ezziddien Sarris would probably not have said so clearly that he recommends a semester abroad to every student today. Because starting at Valparaíso University in the USA was anything but easy. The information arrived only slowly and sparsely in Germany, at the airport he was standing alone and had to take the bus to the university and the assigned dormitory made anything but a really inviting impression. In addition, there is loneliness at the beginning because you don't know anyone at first.
But the tide should turn quickly, says Ezziddien Sarris. The dormitory was a multicultural place with students from China, Iraq, France, Germany, India and the USA. "I celebrated Christmas with people from all over the world. Americans are very open and people are often invited."
In Valparaíso, he was not only impressed by the American way of life but also by studying at the university. Similar to Reutlingen, there was also a special introductory program for foreign students in Valparaíso. "As an international student, you will be advised by the faculty staff about the events and enrolled. For some events you have to register personally with the respective professor for the course. The professor then decides whether there is still space and you can get in."
A system, in his experience, in which you get to know the professors very well personally. All in all, the contact with the professors was very close and friendly in the USA, also because they only addressed each other by first name, including the professors.
More exams, but no stress in the end
And on another point, too, he liked the American system in Valparaíso. There was a lot of homework and four exams during the semester, but "not all of them at the end like in Reutlingen. Then there were always short short tests. I felt like I was in school. The advantage of the system is that you can do a bad one Ezziddien Sarris said that it was easier to compensate for a grade because you could usually cancel one grade from the many tests. His studies in the USA also helped him in terms of content, because the seminar topics offered in the USA are different from those in Reutlingen. "For example, I learned the programming language Phython. In Reutlingen we use Java."
Studying abroad strengthens self-confidence
The business informatics student sees the real additional profit from a semester abroad in something completely different. So he now feels much more comfortable in the English language. Applications that require good English skills are no longer a problem.
Overall, he concluded, the semester abroad is an experience of a lifetime. "It strengthens self-confidence. You learn English very well, experience a different great culture, get to know nice people and study in a different way and in a different foreign language. Business IT specialists in particular should have this experience because they have international experience at companies are in great demand. "
Contact person for the faculty semester abroad
Reutlingen International Office
The interview in full
Why did you go abroad?
At first it just wasn't that important to me. Then I found out more by chance from the RIO (Reutlingen International Office) that the Josef Eberle Foundation in Rottenburg is awarding a foreign scholarship. That made me curious because I come from Rottenburg myself.
It sounded positive and at the time I was doing my practical phase at Daimler AG in international purchasing and they encouraged me to go abroad.
So studying abroad wasn't that important to you?
I always thought: you can do it, but you don't have to.
How did it go on? Was it easy to get the scholarship?
I myself was skeptical and, to be honest, I didn't think I could do that at the time. I graduated from secondary school and then later attended secondary school, then commercial. University entrance qualification, an apprenticeship and then the degree. I wrote my application documents and my motivation in English and applied. After a preselection by the RIO, I received the message that I was shortlisted and that my application documents had been forwarded to Valparaíso University. Shortly afterwards I received an invitation to an interview at the RIO with Mr. Baldur Veit (RIO) and Dr. Kevin Ostoyich (Valparaíso University), immediately afterwards I was accepted.
Was it difficult to organize everything then?
It was'nt easy. Above all, I had little information about how things will continue in Valparaíso. It wasn't until August 8th, a week before my arrival, that the most important things were clear, such as where I could live. But it was really good on site. It just takes longer than you are used to in Germany.
The International Office in Valparaíso is a good contact, even if the organization is not as good as in Germany. It all takes a little longer in America, you need more patience? starting with the supermarket till to organizing your studies.
How was the first day then?
I arrived in the US on August 15th. It took longer right at the airport because my parents are from Palestine. At first there were a lot of questions about my parents and what I want in the USA. They weren't really polite. But then I got in. The university had sent me a plan of which bus to take. In the evening I moved in. It wasn't a great room, a bit run down.
Doesn't that sound so great?
Well that was the first impression. But it turned out to be a lot better. In the house lived a pretty mixed bunch of people from China, Iraq, France, Germany, the USA and some from India. There was a really international atmosphere.
In the week before the start of the semester there was a special introductory program for all foreign students. For example, the police were also guests and gave us tips on how to behave, for example during a police check. We met with staff from the faculty, received all the information and they also explained to us which courses we can attend and how we can register for them. It can only be done personally.
How exactly do you book an event there?
The system is completely different from that in Reutlingen. As an international student, you will be advised and enrolled in the events by the faculty staff. For some events you have to register personally with the respective professor for the course. The professor then decides whether there is still space and you can get inside. By registering in person, you will of course know each other much better. Everyone knows the other's first name. The courses are also quite small. A maximum of 20/25 people were always in a course.
How was that studying?
Was it pretty difficult to understand everything at first? fast english? Foreign words. But you could always ask the professor and the students also helped me.
There is also a lot of homework and four exams per semester in one lecture, but not all of them at the end as in Reutlingen. Then there were always short short tests. I felt like I was in school. The advantage of the system is that it is easier to compensate for a bad grade because you could mostly cancel one grade from the many tests. Overall, the effort was higher than in Reutlingen.
How is the content related to studying in Reutlingen?
Basically, I wanted to attend lectures that would also bring me further in Reutlingen, and that worked for the most part. Some courses really helped me. For example, I learned the Phython programming language. In Reutlingen we use Java.
When you put it all together Was it worth studying there?
Yes, definitely. The experience of studying abroad has helped me advance in many ways. I now feel much more comfortable in the English language. If good English skills are now required in an application, that no longer scares me off. It boosted my confidence. I originally come from a secondary school, studying was very far away at the time. When I applied for a job, I received a lot of rejections at the time. Now I could choose where to go during the internship. Studying abroad has changed me for the better.
You said that the contact with the students and professors is very good. So you don't feel lonely?
But. Especially at the beginning you are of course alone, you have to find your way. But that also strengthens the personality. In addition, you can now easily call home. But you get to know the people there quickly and there are a lot of people living in the dormitories who also come from abroad. That changes over time and you really feel good.
Do you do something together?
Yes of course. You spend a lot of time together in the gym, at parties and have many experiences with other cultures and people from all over the world. I celebrated Christmas with people from all over the world. Americans are very open and often invited.
Put it all together. What are the benefits of studying abroad?
Today I would say to everyone: definitely do it. It's an experience of a lifetime. It strengthens self-confidence. You learn English very well, experience a different great culture, meet nice people and study in a different way and in a different foreign language.
Business IT specialists in particular should gain this experience because international experience is in great demand with companies.
And what was your personal highlight?
So many things. I especially like the city of Chicago. My trip to Los Angelos, San Diego and Las Vegas, life on campus, the celebrations, student life on campus, the feeling of togetherness, unlike what I know from Germany.
And what was difficult?
The first two days. You imagine everything is easier beforehand and then you get there and don't know anyone at first. But as I said: that changes quickly.
Would you go abroad again?
Definitely! I would like to do a Masters in International Business and then go abroad, possibly Australia or Ireland. In any case, I would like to get to know another country and I will travel to the USA again for a vacation.
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