June 27, 2024

KTU student from Ukraine enjoyed the opportunities of Erasmus+ studies – this was a real adventure

“You must say bonjour to everyone you meet and smile as you say it because otherwise, people might not talk to you,” says KTU student Alex Korzh from Ukraine, who has just got back from his exchange semester in Nancy, France.

Alex’s Erasmus+ journey started at the Go Abroad Fair, organised by Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) annually.

“I dreamt about France for a long time, and I had been studying French for seven years before I applied to the exchange programme,” says Alex. However, Alex admits having doubts about making the final decision: “I thought about it a lot. I was worried about all the paperwork and the fact that I had just started to settle in Lithuania,” says a second-year KTU New Media Language student from Ukraine.

Half a year ago, Alex flew to France with the Erasmus+ exchange programme. However, after being encouraged by the University’s Coordinator for International Relations, Alex embarked on a journey and chose Nancy for his half-year stay in France.

“It’s a very nice city with a lot of art nouveau architecture – this style creates a sense of majesty. For me, the golden gates at the entrance to Nancy’s main square of Stanislas, is a perfect embodiment of a grandeur image that comes to mind when thinking of France,” remembers Alex.

He says that although France is quite an expensive country to live in and there are also a few cultural differences that one must get used to; the Erasmus+ exchange programme is an exceptional opportunity for those who want to know a foreign country better and to grow as personalities. Alex says that he now has a lot of pleasant memories, warm feelings, a dream come true, and is way more confident in himself, as well as in his French.

Studies in French-style

Before taking off to France, Alex studied in Kaunas for one year. When comparing New Media Language studies at KTU and studies in France, Alex mentions that they were different – both in the study curricula and methods applied. At KTU, students learn more about media theories, develop their IT skills, and gain BA+ competencies from their third year of study onwards.

“Here, in Kaunas, students are free to create and show off their knowledge. There are a lot of group works, communicating and technologies play a key role,” says Alex.

In France, however, studies are more theory- and academia-driven, so there is less room for creativity. Alex was amazed by psycholinguistic classes: “It was very interesting to learn how the brain and memory work”. Alex was impressed by how his professor of psycholinguistics was able to engage students in their studies:

“We would often see examples of the famous actor Ryan Gosling. I found this method of learning effective as it made the lectures more memorable. Once, this professor organised a tour of the university and the archives of linguistics, where we got to see some of the oldest dictionaries in Europe.”

Moreover, the class on language learning was beneficial for Alex personally. He has been tutoring people in languages for several years and is now glad to apply the skills and knowledge gained to his work. “The more speaking – the better. This is the attitude that I have taken away from the lectures. I try not to speak in other languages than the one I am teaching if it is not needed. It is also linked to psycholinguistics closely. Sometimes, I even explain some of the language learning peculiarities to my students that they apply without even realising it,” says Alex.

The goal of mastering the language finally accomplished

It is not a secret that speaking French is a must in France. So, even if it was difficult at first to start speaking, the environment was one of the factors that helped Alex to master his French skills.

“Although I had been learning French for seven years before I went for exchange and I could understand the spoken language in lectures or when talking with the locals, speaking was still quite a challenge for me,” says Alex.

However, as time passed, he stopped worrying about what others might think of him.

“I have spoken to many strangers in French and I finally realised that I am fluent in this language. Probably one of the best moments in France was when a waitress couldn’t tell where I was from based on my accent. She also added that my pronunciation was excellent,” says Alex with a smile.

However, the KTU New Media Language student from Ukraine emphasises that his studies have also contributed significantly to perfecting his French: “I had been learning French morphology, grammar, phonetics, and phonology. I had an opportunity to study French, as native speakers do, and it gave me a deeper insight into the language.”

“In France, you must say bonjour to everyone you meet and smile as you say it because otherwise, people might not talk to you,” says Alex with a smile.

He learnt this on his very first days while trying to buy a bus ticket. “Even after recognising scammers on the street, French people still say bonjour to them. This is a tradition deeply rooted in their culture that must be followed,” says Alex.

Enjoying French joie de vivre

Speaking about the peculiarities of living in France, Alex points out the time of eating, as one of the specific aspects of French culture. “Restaurants, cafés, canteens – all open at 11:30 am and serve food until 1 pm. If you haven’t eaten by this time, you will likely be hungry for the rest of the day because until 7 pm you can only order drinks,” says Alex.

However, the quality of food is a different story altogether: you can find several types of cheese even at the University’s canteen; traditional dishes of Lorraine, such as Lorraine’s quiche or the famous madeleines that originated from France are delicious. Of course, one must not forget the pastries: “There is nothing that compares to French pastry. My friend used to wake up at 6 am every day to buy fresh baguettes. Wherever you go in France, you will find a traditional bakery, named after its founder.”

Alex admits that he didn’t have a lot of free time as he used the weekends and bank holidays, of which the French have quite a few, for travelling. Several trips to Paris, Versailles, towns surrounding Lorraine, Luxembourg, and even London – these are just a few places that Alex has visited.

From them all, Alex pinpoints Strasbourg, called the capital of Christmas: “It truly seems like a fairytale or a movie. When I think about Christmas – Strasbourg is what I imagine.”

He says that people come to this Christmas capital from all around Europe; so, for those wanting a cosier and slower experience, Alex recommends visiting the city of Colmar. It is also often called the Little Venice just with German-like architecture.

Alex is delighted to have used the opportunity to spend half a year abroad and encourages everyone to take part in study exchange: “Don’t be afraid and be adventurous. Don’t worry about what others might think of you and be full of joy for life (or, as the French say, joie de vivre). Enjoy the croissants and be ready to make a ton of new friends!”

Dreaming of studies that would allow you to discover the world and yourself? Lithuania is your gateway to Europe. Choose your study program here.