ERASMUS, is it about studying, partying, travelling, living, or? #1

Živjo prijatelji!
There are three groups of students: ones who only have heard about the Erasmus, those who are thinking about actually going and students, who really went on the Erasmus. Because recently I became one from the last category, I’ll write something that may help students to also move up into the last one, or at least start to think about it. Or perhaps the reason behind writing this post is that next time I can just send this link when someone will again ask me, “How was it?”.


The Mount Triglav itself in the backgroud, only thing I could do with it was to take a photo

So, my next words are meant for students and for all others who want to see how world looks like from the student perspective. Better said, my perspective, which can be quite different from the common view. The first thing I must mention is school, because no matter what, the Erasmus is (officially) still about studying and this is the OptiBlog, not a hipsta wannabe travel bio-blog.

To study in a different environment, in an alien school is linked with troubles starting with paperwork, ending with feeling completely lost. To complicate everything, I studied at three different faculties. Why (only) three? Because more is not allowed. I didn’t take the Identification course at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and also I had to stop thinking about taking the course of Quantum Mechanics. For fun but I meant it, really.

“What do you study?” is usually the second question someone asks you when you meet (and that’s very often). For a moment, I envied students who can just say “law” or “medicine”. What I study abroad is neither simple explainable nor completely compatible with what I previously studied (and absolutely not what I study now) at home. So, every time I said something different, depending on who is asking, current situation, available time, mood or weather conditions. After all, I can bet now nobody understand. I have a suspicion that not even my parents have reached the point of understanding yet.


View to the Faculty of Chemistry from the balcony of the Faculty of Computer Science

The University of Ljubljana has 26 faculties spread across the city center. Three of them are recently built away near the forest, in one place. Hold in mind that away in Ljubljana still means a few minutes from the city center. Math exercise: I study at three faculties, what is the probability that I needn’t walk much between them, because “my” faculties are exactly that mentioned three ones? You can assume there is no linkage between faculty focus and its location (unless you see a connection between, for example, the pharmacy and arts – two faculties that are next to each other). My result is CodeCogsEqn or chance 1 in 2600. Lucky.

Because studying was the last reason why I decided to go on Erasmus, I wanted to choose easy courses and pass everything with the littlest amount of effort (that’s the real student spirit!). But nothing was granted for free. Despite that more than 500 Erasmus students are studying at the University of Ljubljana, in most courses I was alone. And most of the courses were taught in Slovene. “Little” but not insuperable obstacle.


It may not look like, but this is inside the Faculty of Computer and Information Science, here I spent most time (and this one I liked the most)

At home faculty (my dear FCHPT) is common to not have an idea what the hell the lecturer is talking about. In Slovenia that feeling was doubled, because the difference in languages is bigger than the difference in the country names. Luckily, I am trained from FCHPT to not freak out while having no idea what is going on.

Sometimes I had notes in English, sometimes I must threw Slovene notes into the translator. After all, there are similarities and it wasn’t necessary to translate everything. So, a day before an exam, when I looked into it and see a sentence like “Impact on fizikalne, kemijske, biološke in senzorične food properties,” I was pleased, because it can be understood. Often it cannot, when the translator gave me an exemplar nonsense and no clue how to solve it. Googlers, work harder.


The Biotechnical Faculty, officially I should be there

Professors were kind, willing to help and some of them were too concerned about my wellbeing. I was working on the project from the Artificial Intelligence course with my mentor (actually, the only interesting course and only one that I care about). That moment when my mentor is telling me, “Don’t work too much,” and giving advice, “there will be a student festival, you should go there,” or asking me during our meeting, “Do you really have a time? It’s nice weather outside.”

Funny, another professor after the first lecture is telling me that “it is up to you if you will visit lectures, maybe you'd rather enjoy May,” or, “today is a big student party, ask around, go.” So I did. Don’t worry, professor, after I passed Separation Processes and reached 20 credits, my unfinished courses stopped exist for me.


This is the second and less crowded bike parking place in front of the faculty

I quickly got used to attend school around noon, for one lecture, twice a week (twice in the average, usually it ranges from 0 to 3 times). So, I occasionally visit a lecture to show my interest and to drink coffee (unless it is lecture from the Separation Processes, voluntarily sitting in the hell is not my taste). During the lectures there is a break every hour, very good for attention and, of course, for taking coffee. I had never drunk coffee before, but Erasmus is the game changer.

What are student’s feelings in the unknown country, in the foreign school among new, strange people? Mine were ranging from – what the heck I am doing here, I know nothing, I understand nothing, how can I pass, I am in the lab, how is this pipette even held, my best skill in a lab was to break glass (in the previous classes I used to “win” the highest bill, that’s what incentive scholarship really is for), I enrolled course from the faculty of computer science, oh, that is very clever step from me, considering the fact that I am only able to use Facebook, google and send an email (with SOS), what the heck I am doing here? – to – there is nothing I cannot survive, I can learn everything, I can do everything and I can do it better.


The main building of the University

Time to time I felt so motivated that I didn’t hesitate and joined STUBA Green Team, the team of students from the Slovak University of Technology. They develop, design, construct and compete with their electrically-driven formula. The new goal is to build an autonomous electric formula. As cool as it sounds, next time you can expect to read in the blog about the driverless formula.

Or not, because what I know about it? Answer: less than about the giant black hole at the heart of our galaxy, but more than about the reason why I am writing this. Precisely, I know three things about that black hole – is big, people call her Sagittarius A* and her soul is (surprisingly) darker than my thoughts while programming in PHP (just joking, I don’t program in PHP). About the formula I know two things – it has 4 wheels and it is hard to build one. About this post I know only that if at least 5 people will read it (can I hope for that?), it’s worth the effort, because it will be more than number of people who ever looked into my bachelor thesis, including me, myself and I.

Since I am writing one gibberish after another, the post became quite long and I still haven’t answered the question from the title. For the answer wait till the second part, where I will also tell something about the place where I’d spent few months.

Nasvidenje za zdaj!