International academic mobility as a key factor for professional competence – an interview

The higher education landscape has been changing vastly in the past decade not only on a local, but also on a global level. Students can now choose from studying at a local university, go abroad, study at an international campus in their own country, pick among hundreds of study fields and academic programs. This leaves students at a position to be more rigorous and cautious when choosing which option fits their needs best. So, universities are changing, or better yet, adding up to their academic offerings. One of the most attractive options that universities are now offering is the possibility to go abroad while studying at home. The possibility is made available either through a double degree academic program, cooperation agreements established between universities, or via some of the international exchange programs.

At University American College Skopje, the need for offering these opportunities has been recognized and all of the above-mentioned options have been made available. One of the most attractive options is the Double Degree program with the University of Rome Tor Vergata. The Business Administration and Economics program, makes it possible for students to study two years in their home country and spend the third one in Rome. Apart from having an amazing international experience, the best part is that they earn two degrees, one from UACS and one from Tor Vergata in Rome.

Despite all these benefits, it is often difficult to make the decision to enroll and to go a school that you have been to before, in a different country, and not know what to expect. The best way to decide is to learn from someone else’s experience.

Therefore, we have decided to give one of UACS students to share his own experiences at Tor Vegrata, and what a study abroad experience really entails.

Vele Sekuloski is an undergraduate student at the University American College Skopje (UACS). He is currently enrolled at the Finance and Banking program at the School of Business Economics and Management. He joined the UACS family in the academic year 2015/2016. Furthermore, he has also experienced the Erasmus+ program at the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Rome, Italy, where he had the possibility to study for the duration of one semester. Vele is an open-minded person, who enjoys the beautiful landscapes the nature has to offer and he also loves sports.

  1. How did you learn about the Erasmus+ program?

The first time I heard about the Erasmus+ program was when I was 15 years old, and when one of my older friends went to study abroad. I received further information regarding this program during the first cycle of study at UACS, through a series of events, organized by the UACS International Students Office and the Erasmus+ Coordinator through the course of the academic year. These events, as well as the consultations with the Coordinator regarding the possibility provided to the UACS students for experiencing the Erasmus+ exchange abroad, helped me learn all the necessary steps which need to be undertaken, in order to become a part of this program.

  1. What motivated you to experience a study abroad program?

Adventurers always accept challenges. The opportunity to meet new international friends and explore new places was the greatest motivation, while living alone and studying on different terms, in another country, was the challenge which I could not resist. Furthermore, the possibility to experience new teaching methods, involve in discussions and projects in an international environment and work towards my personal and professional development, was something I found to be very important for my future career path.

  1. Why did you choose the University of Rome Tor Vergata, as a university for your Erasmus+ exchange?

The Eternal City is an open-air museum frozen in time, having 280 fountains and more than 900 churches. There are no modern buildings and every corner carries an ancient story. On the other side, there was the University of Rome Tor Vergata, ranked in the top 400 QS World University Ranking, offering courses which meet with the ones at UACS, and having great cooperation and communication between, which made the process as a whole much easier. Having more than 300 Erasmus students per semester, makes University of Rome Tor Vergata a 10/10 Erasmus+ experience.

  1. Can you explain the application process for the Erasmus+ program?

As stated previously, throughout the academic year, there are several events organized by the UACS International Students Office, which provide essential information regarding the application process for studying abroad through the Erasmus+ program, as well as the requirements, necessary documents and terms which need to be fulfilled. This process is performed under the guidance of the Erasmus+ Coordinator, Mrs. Viktorija Gombar, who communicates with the program coordinator at the higher education institution abroad where you are willing to study. Therefore, she informs the applicants upon the documents which need to be submitted, the visa requirements, as well as the program structure, i.e. the courses they need to follow, based on the ECTS credits earned at UACS. The support students receive from the International Students Office is something I find to be extremely valuable and important, especially when applying for studies abroad, since it impose new challenges in our student lives.

  1. What was the most amazing cultural experience you encountered with while studying in Rome?

While studying abroad in Rome, I had the possibility to meet many Latin American and Spanish friends. I had never met any Spanish, Argentinian, Brazilian or Latin American before, and guess what? In Rome I learned a lot about their culture, habits, lifestyle, and they even visited Macedonia! Since I had a lot of friends speaking Spanish, I had the possibility to learn basic Italian and Spanish. Rome was a place where everyone wanted to make friends and explore other cultures. Therefore, Erasmus students organised group dinners, so that we could taste different types of cuisines at one place, making it a special and unforgettable experience.

  1. What will you miss the most from Rome?

Everything. I think that maybe I will miss the ice-cream the most, because there is no ice-cream like the one in Italy anywhere in the world. Late nights starring at the Colloseo and Piazza Venezia and early morning bike tours across Rome were things I enjoyed doing when in Rome. I miss Nacho, Pablo, Sheldon, Rodrigo and Nemanja, friends which who I spent the most of the time with and had the unforgettable moments with. It is really hard to describe the things that you experience in Rome, you just have to be there, feel the City and enjoy it.

  1. How did this mobility impact your personal growth?

This mobility program made me an independent person. I experienced mental, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual growth, that allows a person to live a productive and satisfying life. I build up new habits and improved my mindset during the program, which helps me being happier and satisfied person, more aware about everything I have.

  1. Will you recommend the Erasmus+ exchange to other students and why?

In many universities abroad, the Erasmus+ program is a must and every student is taking a part of some mobility program. It is somewhat disappointing that students in Macedonia are not aware of this opportunity and are not using the advantages of it. I would recommend the program to every student who is at the second year of academic studies, no matter the type of a person he/she is, because this program will help you find yourself, the things you love the most and make you feel a part of something big.

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