Interview with Lea Wachter, Erasmus + student from Germany: I chose to apply for SEEU because it offered courses that were appropriate for my studies

1. You have chosen SEEU to continue a semester under the Erasmus + Student Mobility Program. What were your principles that you made this choice? Why exactly SEEU?

After I had decided to go abroad for one semester, I read through the list of countries in which my home university has partner universities. It was clear to me from the beginning that I would go somewhere with the Erasmus+ program and as I read through the different options, I somehow stopped at North Macedonia. I was immediately interested in this country, because I knew so little about it and I made the experience that these places can turn out as the best. It was hard to find experience reports from other students but thereby it became even more interesting. I thought I can go there without being biased by others and gather new impressions. Finally, I chose to apply for SEEU because it offered courses that were appropriate for my studies, a big campus where I can stay and find everything for the daily life and because of its good reputation.

2. What is the difference between SEEU and the University of Bamberg where you study?

Unlike the SEEU, the University of Bamberg is a State University. We have there more students, more frequent lectures and in general, most classes are more “anonymous” because of the sizes. I recognized that communication at SEEU between students and professors is closer and professors are often more flexible, probably because of the smaller classes. Additionally, the faculties at the University of Bamberg are spread all over the city, which is typical for German Universities. The two universities have a different style but I like both of them and it was a good chance for me to experience various organizational methods.

3. During your stay here you have had the opportunity to meet our University staff. What are
your impressions?

I was welcomed from the beginning by everyone and got to know a lot of people even from higher managerial levels of the university. Since not many students choose North Macedonia for their semester abroad, the staff had more time for me and the other Erasmus+ student. This was very helpful especially in the beginning, since the Visa process for example took a lot of effort and communication. I always had some contact persons that were supporting me at any time and I don’t think this is possible in the same extent in most other Erasmus+ countries due to the number of students.

4. Also, you had the opportunity to get acquainted with the city of Tetovo and other cities in North Macedonia. What are your impressions?

Since everything was completely new to me, it was very exciting for me to explore Tetovo by feet and some other cities by bus. I tried to keep my expectations low before coming to Tetovo because I could not find much information but in the end, I was surprised about the vitality of the city. It has many cafés and restaurants and I had the luck to got shown a lot of them by my Macedonian and Albanian friends I found here. Everywhere I went, people were welcoming, hospitable and very interested in Germany. It was a special experience for me having two cultures within one country, hearing church bells in one moment and the call for prayer from mosques in the other. North Macedonia has beautiful and sometimes underestimated mountains, lakes and historical places. For me, two of my favorites were the city Ohrid and a hiking tour nearby Kobilice mountain.

5. Would you recommend other international students to choose SEEU as an option within
Erasmus +?

Definitely yes. As a student you may face more organizational work before and in the beginning your stay but it is worth it and you get a hospitable country that tries to make your stay as comfortable as possible in exchange. If you are interested in flexible and small classes, time to travel and exploring a new culture with lots of coffee breaks, then North Macedonia with the SEEU is a good option for you and you should dare to go somewhere “unusual”.