Hannah Wilkinson, from Harrogate in England, travelled to Otto-Friedrich Universität, Bamberg in Germany for a year as part of the Erasmus+ programme. She is studying International Business Management with Languages in the School of Social Sciences. Hannah is based at the Edinburgh Campus.
What were the highlights from your global student experience?
I met people from all over the world and now have friends and contacts from many countries across the globe. The experience has made me more culturally aware as I was surrounded by different cultures and ways of living. We often had international evenings, where the students cooked traditional meals or played traditional music from their home countries. I enjoyed working with AEGEE (an international student organisation) which created academic and social events for students at Bamberg University. There were also lots of trips, such as a skiing trip and a day at Oktoberfest
How do you think being a global student will benefit you in your career after university?
Having studied abroad I believe that I have shown how I can adapt to new environments, which will be a useful skill if I were to work with an international company which required transferring. My intercultural, team-work, language and social skills all improved on my year-abroad. I believe that these soft skills, as well as many others will benefit me in the future regarding career prospects.
Do you keep in touch with anyone that you met during your Erasmus+ exchange?
Bamberg University had a very structured Tandem Programme. You are allocated a tandem partner before you arrive in Germany and they are there to welcome you to the university, show you around and help with any problems. My tandem partner is now studying in the UK for her year abroad, so I have kept in touch with her and been able to give her advice and help her with anything here.
Whilst I was in Bamberg, I set up an Erasmus+ page for the international students. When we were in Bamberg we posted social events or any information that was important for the international students. Having left the university it is a great way to keep in contact. Many of us have met up since leaving Bamberg and it’s a great way to see what people are doing, outside of Erasmus+ life.
What advice would you give other students thinking of taking part in Heriot-Watt’s Global Student Programme?
Try to get in touch with people before you take part in the programme. It gives you so much confidence when you already know a native when you arrive. There is often a Facebook page, a network or an exchange/tandem programme which can help you. Secondly, if you are taking part in the global student programme to practice your language skills do not speak your native language when you are abroad. I found that many international students wanted to practice their English with me because I was a native speaker. You just have to explain that you are there to practice your foreign language, not your native language! The best advice I can give is to really try to enjoy it, embrace every moment of living or studying abroad and try to get involved in as many extra activities as possible.