Georgian undergraduate exchange students in Europe

Almost every Georgian student wishes to study in Europe. A reason for that is to gain international experience, get to know diverse people with various living standards, make new friends, share experiences with them and return to the home country with new ideas and perspectives. As one of the Georgian exchange students said: “Studying abroad is a big challenge because you need to be independent and adapt to a new environment. This experience of adapting to new environments will be of big interest later in life when you come on the working market”.

But, for undergraduate students we have only about 30 places for English speaking students far less for other language speaking (German, Spanish, Italian…) ones each year, while many more wish to be an exchange student. More difficult is to be the beneficiary of ERASMUS Lot 6.

Thus, selection process is merit-based and quite difficult to go through, so students should prepare specially for it. Competition for one-semester mobility program includes three steps: 1. Passing English Language (B2) Test 2. Writing motivation letter and presenting your grades (High GPA is required), recommendation letters, and the offered Universities, listed in priority order. The 3rd step is an interview where you have to answer some of the standard questions like “why you would like to study in Europe”, “how will you use this experience after returning to your home country”, “why are you the best candidate for this programme” etc. as well as some unexpected ones, which you should answer in a spontaneous and natural manner, because your presence of mind matters in such a situation.

I mentioned high GPA in the above analysis, but work experience, voluntary experience and other kinds of extra-curricular activities also count a lot. Skills gained through nonformal education is as worthy as those through formal learning, because it focuses on practical skills and knowledge. Formal and nonformal education can complement each other if properly understood (“What is Nonformal Education?” Arlen Etllng).

Akaki Koridze is former exchange student in Riga, Latvia. He has spent 2011/2012 autumn semester there and has just returned to Georgia. Gained experience helped him to find a job and thus excel in his career. Akaki talked with us about the advantages and significance of mobility programs, as it helps students to expand their worldview, become more aware of European educational and cultural policies and be able to accept the differences. Georgian students had a presentation of the country in one of the schools in Riga. “The school students were aware of Georgia less than we expected they would be, we had a mini-test during the presentation and the only question they gave the right answer was – who is the president of Georgia?” On the question, how did he manage to go through the selection process, Akaki answered that good knowledge of English and motivation helped him to convince the jury in his abilities, “I knew exactly what I wanted and why I needed this program for my future career”, – he says. For his Masters Degree Akaki would like to continue studying in Western Europe or in USA.

Author: Ana Koridze

Tbilisi State University

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