I was on two November exchanges. I spent the spring semester of my third year at Koch University in Istanbul, Turkey. After that, I spent the fall semester of Year 4 in Germany in Pforzheim at the Hochschule Pforzheim.
Why did you choose this city and college? Were you happy with the selection?
When I saw the university partner list in the first year I saw Koch University Istanbul, I knew immediately that I would go there for an exchange. I have always been attracted to Islamic culture and wanted to spend a few months in a Muslim country. Another reason is the quality of the university itself. Koç University is the first private university in Turkey and the most expensive, which gives it the epitome of elite. The quality of the university is unquestionable, the size, quality and conditions of study are comparable to the best universities in the world. Everything is student-friendly and open 24 hours a day, the selection of sports activities, restaurants, guest lectures and concerts is incredible. I could tell you many things about campus and study in Turkey, but you just wouldn’t believe me. Definitely the best 4 months of my life.
After Turkey, I decided to spend a semester in Germany to improve my German language skills. The Hochschule Pforzheim AACSB is an accredited business school and has been changing into the top three best business schools in Germany for years. I chose Pforzheim primarily because of the quality of the school. Pforzheim is a small student town, I could say boring but on an exchange it’s never boring. The school is great, as are the professors and I only have words of praise. I can safely say that in one semester in Germany I learned more than in the first 3 years of study, since the pace of study in Germany is very demanding. The Pforzheim school requires exchange students to listen to a lot of subjects that take a lot of time and effort. But professors are really experts and the knowledge you can acquire is immeasurable.
What differences and similarities did you notice with ZSEM?
At ZSEM I got used to small group lectures and a lot of discussion during lectures with professors and colleagues, while in Turkey the groups were much larger and the classes were mostly ex cathedra. Of course, the biggest difference between ZSEM and the exchange faculty is primarily the infrastructure. Unfortunately, infrastructure is the biggest drawback of ZSEM. There is no difference in the knowledge and quality of the lecture. The knowledge I gained at ZSEM before the exchange is great and I had no problems with teaching at other faculties, although some areas at ZSEM are dealt with in more detail than at other faculties.
Also, I would like to emphasize that our International Office at ZSEM is excellent, Javier and Stjepan are always ready to help and meet.
How did your two exchanges differ, except that they are two completely different cultures?
Well of course two different cultures, but what is most interesting about all is that I experienced a real culture shock in Germany and not in Turkey. In Turkey, I felt at home, people are really open, culture is like food similar to Croatia. I experienced culture shock in Germany. Believe it or not, Croatia is more similar to Turkey than Germany. In Germany, everything works differently than in Croatia, from the working hours of banks, shops, the way you throw trash, pay bills and drink coffee. Even though we like to compare ourselves to Germany, we are culturally and lifestyle closer to Turkey. We have traveled a lot in Turkey. It took you weeks to discover Istanbul, and after that we traveled all over Turkey. There were students from all over the world at the exchange, indeed from almost every country and the faculty was really international. In Germany, we traveled a little and studied a lot. The number of foreign students was smaller and the majority were from Europe, so there was no international environment.
What was your experience with students from other countries? How did you spend your free time?
The most wonderful thing about sharing is making friends with people from all over the world. We were fortunate enough to have a really great group of people from all over the world on our exchange who just clicked and we all came together and developed great friendships that will surely last me long after the exchange. There is always something going on at the exchange and it is never boring, someone always goes sightseeing, for dinner, a weekend trip and there are always some get-together organized so that the free time is always spent in some “action” and it is never boring.
Do you have any experiences that you can single out as the most interesting?
Haha, I can hardly single out one. The most interesting experience from Turkey was when I went with my 3 friends from England, America and France on a seven-day trip to the east of Turkey along the border with Syria. We rented a car there and toured cities in the region, and since that part of the country is not touristy, there were many funny and unexpected situations. From Germany I would single out going to Octoberfest with Luke. We dressed Letherhose and walked in two of the most famous tents at Octoberfest for two days in a row without reservations and long waits. Two unforgettable days.
Did this push you to think about living abroad?
Definitely, after Turkey I didn’t think so much about abroad as I knew I had another exchange in front of me, but after returning from an exchange in Germany the only thing I was thinking about was going abroad again. It may be difficult for some to understand, but Croatia is a really small, homogeneous and monotonous country, and if you are young, ambitious and have experienced life in a major world city or country, returning to Croatia is like moving from horse to ass. But what disappoints you most is when you put a lot of effort and money into your education and believe that the economic situation in Croatia will improve, but things do not change as the years go by. Then you just don’t see yourself in Croatia any more in the near future.