January 16, 2024

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Life in a Foreign University | Global exposure, cutting-edge technology: What Erasmus Mundus offers Indian students | Education News

5 min read

Deciding to pursue studies abroad was influenced by a culmination of factors that evolved steadily over time. After the completion of my undergraduate degree in Bachelor of Engineering-Information Technology from Savitribai Phule Pune University in 2017, I worked as a Quality Assurance Engineer at a prestigious IT company in Pune. It was during this tenure that I found myself immersed in a realm brimming with novel tools and technologies. Among these, the domain of data analysis captivated my attention significantly.

While managing my job responsibilities, I studied data analysis further through various online courses. As I delved further into these courses, my fascination for the subject grew.

However, the decision to study abroad was not solely hinged on a single factor; rather, it was an organic progression spurred by my professional exposure, interest in data analysis, and the desire to expand my knowledge and expertise in this domain.

Applying for study abroad programmes

I found out about the Erasmus Mundus – Big Data Management and Analytics course online. The allure of this mobility programme spanning various European countries and offering full funding intensified my determination to explore this academic opportunity further.

Festive offer

Initial attempts involved scouring LinkedIn and extensive online research, seeking individuals who could provide insights or guidance regarding the Erasmus Mundus initiative. However, navigating this uncharted territory led me to undertake the entire admission process autonomously.

The process commenced with the application phase, where I discovered that the scholarship website meticulously detailed the necessary steps and requisites. Reflecting on the experience, I can highlight the website’s user-friendly interface and recommend prospective students to follow the course manual provided.

I compiled a set of standard documents essential for submission, including the statement of purpose, transcript, letter of recommendation, cover letter and a marks conversion sheet adhering to the ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) format.

Managing the entire admission process independently not only honed my organisational skills but also instilled a sense of self-reliance.

Erasmus Mundus — an experience to cherish forever

The academic rigour and depth of the programme were unparalleled. The curriculum blended theoretical concepts with real-world applications, offering a comprehensive understanding of cutting-edge technologies and methodologies for handling vast volumes of data. Collaborating with esteemed professors and bright minds from across the globe not only broadened my perspectives but also fostered a culture of innovation and collaboration. Working on projects and engaging in insightful discussions further pushed the boundaries of my knowledge and honed my analytical skills.

Living in various cities across the EU during my studies offered a tapestry of experiences. Each city had its unique charm, history, and way of life. The bustling streets of Barcelona, the serene beauty of Brussels, the historic richness of Paris – each place imprinted memories that added colours to my life and also taught me adaptability and appreciation for diversity.

The Erasmus Mundus experience was not solely confined to academic pursuits; it was a holistic journey that catalyzed personal growth. Stepping out of my comfort zone, navigating through different languages, and embracing diverse cultures instilled resilience and a sense of openness. It transformed me into a more adaptable and empathetic individual, qualities that are invaluable in today’s dynamic work environment.

Above all, the financial support extended by Erasmus Mundus was comprehensive and unparalleled.

Participants receive a substantial monthly stipend of EUR 1000, ensuring a stable financial footing during their academic pursuits. Additionally, an annual travel allowance of EUR 3000 and a one-time installation cost of EUR 1000 further enriched the experience, allowing students to explore diverse cultures and broaden their global perspectives. I didn’t have to apply for any loans or external financial aid. The programme covered my tuition fees entirely, and the stipend and allowances were provided to facilitate my academic journey.

Hopping through European countries

As I recollect the initial days, the contrast in societal structures and everyday norms stood out as the most striking cultural shock. Coming from a bustling environment, the quiet streets and the absence of a crowd was a notable cultural shift. The absence of grills on dorm room windows and the lack of a dedicated security guard added another layer of cultural difference, indicating a distinct approach to safety and security.

One of the surprises was discovering that Belgium didn’t have its own Amazon platform. Ordering from Amazon Germany or the Netherlands was initially startling. However, amidst these cultural disparities, I found solace in the cleanliness of the streets and the fresher air, a noticeable contrast. Language, a potential barrier in an unfamiliar land, proved to be surprisingly accommodating. Despite residing in the French-speaking part of Brussels, I encountered minimal language barriers, fostering a sense of inclusion and ease in communication.

Traversing through various European countries, I encountered warmth and hospitality wherever I ventured. The welcoming nature of people throughout Europe made me feel like a part of the community, regardless of my background.

A significant pillar of support during this phase was the camaraderie among batchmates. Their approachability and willingness to assist with even the smallest tasks, such as grocery shopping or navigating residence permit procedures, forged bonds that transcended mere classmates, evolving into a support system in a foreign land.

The initial phase posed challenges, such as being away from family and shouldering the responsibility of managing various aspects independently. These experiences moulded me, fostering resilience and fortitude. They taught me valuable lessons, making me stronger and more adaptable.

One delightful aspect amidst cultural differences was the varied accents and languages spoken by individuals from different European nations. It created an enriching environment where I never felt pressured to conform to a standardised form of English.

Helping people understand and pronounce my name became a delightful exchange, a small yet joyful part of cultural integration.

Indian v/s studying abroad

The pedagogical approach in the foreign university embraced a more interactive and participatory learning environment. The emphasis was on fostering critical thinking, collaborative problem-solving, and hands-on practical application of concepts, diverging from the predominantly lecture-based format prevalent in many Indian educational institutions.

The curriculum at the foreign university prioritised practical application and research-oriented learning. I was exposed to cutting-edge tools, technologies, and real-world case studies, facilitating a deeper understanding and implementation of theoretical concepts into practical scenarios — an aspect that was relatively limited during previous educational experiences in India.

The multicultural environment of the foreign university offered a diverse cohort of students and faculty from various corners of the globe. This exposure provided a rich tapestry of perspectives, fostering cross-cultural communication, and an appreciation for different approaches to problem-solving — an aspect that might have been more limited in India.

(This letter is part of a series by The Indian Express where we bring to you the experiences of students at different foreign universities. From scholarships and loans to food and cultural experiences — students tell us how life is different in those countries and things they are learning other than academics)

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