The Erasmus+ credit and academic mobility program, funded by the European Union, is a wonderful opportunity for students and postgraduate students of Ukrainian universities to not only receive scholarships and study for free at the best universities in Europe, but also a unique chance to join a diverse centuries-old culture, to test and improve their practice in language competencies, meet and make friends with peers abroad.
Thanks to agreements on cooperation between ONPU and universities in Spain and Portugal, starting from the 2014/15 academic year, over the course of the KA-107 project on credit and academic mobility, more than 60 students, postgraduate students, professors and employees of the Odessa National Polytechnic University underwent integrated training from 5 to 10 months (including the defense of a second master’s diploma), scientific internships and lecturing, practical training in the factory and in travel companies.
In the spring semester of the 2019/20 academic year, 3 students of the Ukrainian-Spanish Institute Taisia Kozariezova, gr. EID-171, Victoria Kotovets, gr. EAI-175 and Sofiia Gnatenko, gr. EIC-171, based on the results of a successful examination for the DIE International Diploma, the FIDESCU Foundation, Madrid, and competitive selection at the Odessa National Polytechnic University, were sent to study at the University of Cadiz (UCA) and the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV).
Already in the first month of their stay in Spain, our students had to adapt to life and study under extraordinary conditions. The employees of the dean’s office of Ukrainian-Spanish Institute, international departments of Spanish universities and curators in campuses provided constant communication with students and their parents, prompt response and the necessary help in organizing studies and safe living conditions.
Now our students are completing the final control and are preparing to return to Ukraine. Before leaving home, they shared their first distance studying experience at universities in Spain.
Taisia Kozariezova: distance studying at UCA is distinguished by impeccable organization and efficiency. Online lectures began immediately after the quarantine was announced, and within a week they fully complied with the schedule. Educational material was provided through Zoom on-line conferences or video lessons. The practical exercises were transferred to the “virtual campus” in the likeness of the Google-class, which is actively used in the traditional on-line educational process. Through the “virtual campus”, professors provide students with all the necessary information material (textbooks, synopsis, manuals, reference books, etc.), receive completed assignments within clearly defined deadlines, and students have the opportunity of feedback from the professor.
The examinations are provided on-line. As the professors explained, most of the questions on the exams are in the form of tests with a time limit (one question up to 2 minutes). Of course, such a format for us as foreigners seems more complicated than for Spanish students-native speakers, but professors treat it with understanding and are open to consultations and benevolent help.
Sofiia Gnatenko: at the Polytechnic University of Valencia studying in all specialties has an accurate practical orientation. For each academic discipline, 2 ... 3 projects are provided, which are most often performed in groups. This is convenient for students, since each project requires a considerable amount of time for independent work. Students receive and process the entire amount of information, at a convenient pace, being at home. At the same time, the professor monitors the work of each student – who is responsible for a part of the project, and the whole group works as a single team, interested in fulfilling the project in the total volume and clearly on time.
Viktoria Kotovets: at the University of Cadiz, all lectures during distance studying were held exactly on schedule in the format of a chat or an on-line conference. In fact, such classes practically did not differ from traditional lectures, the professors explained everything in detail, then gave out their homework, all the tests were posted on the Zoom platform, the educational materials and the content of previous classes were also constantly available. The final grade for each academic discipline, as we were told, will take into account grades for homework, intermediate tests and exam. Of course, we are all very worried and try to get good results of our first education in Spain.
As our students unanimously noted, Spanish universities are characterized by a responsible attitude of the administration and professors to classes, a clear organization of the educational process, and, despite the state of emergency, the implementation of most of the previously planned social and cultural projects. One of these projects, implemented at the University Cadiz, VI International Cultural Festival “Nos conoCÉIs? / Do you know about us?”, which, this time took place in the on-line format and is available for viewing on the Youtube channel.
Together with Spanish students, students from Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, studying at the University of Cadiz under the program of international mobility took part in the Festival. The Festival was opened by the Vice-Rector of International Relations of the University of Cadiz, Dr. Rafael Jimenez Castañeda.
The students from Ukraine: Taisia Kozariezova, Odessa National Polytechnic University, and Anastasia Kartashova, Kiev National University T.G. Shevchenko, recorded their remote vocal performance on video, subsequently mounted in an on-line concert of all participants. The organizers of the Nos conoCÉIs? Festival, the University Centre of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CUNEAC, director Dr. Andres Santana Arribas) sent a letter of gratitude to the Ukrainian-Spanish Institute “... for the excellent performance of Taisia Kozariezova, shown at the same time energy, creativity and positive attitude that is especially appreciated today in all over the world!”.