I am Nguyen Thien Phuong Thao - one of the two officers of the University of Science, Vietnam National University, Hanoi, on a exchange program at the University of Greifswald (Germany) under the Erasmus+ Mobility program. Although only 6 short months, the process of living and studying there has given me extremely valuable experiences, not only academically, but also experience and culture-wise, especially during the outbreak of Covid-19.
Supports from VNU University of Science, University of Greifswald and Erasmus+ Program
Before I go into detail about my experiences, I'd like to express my gratitude to the Professors and the VNU University of Science for always providing the best opportunities for staff and students to improve their research skills, and for always being available to assist in all stages of document preparation and visa application.
When I came to Germany, Greifswald University also assisted me in contacting a local friend (Buddy) came to pick me up from train station and accompany me. Furthermore, the ESN support group of the ERASMUS program and the International Office (IO) will accompany and guide new students like me when doing administrative procedures such as Anmelden, obtaining bank card, student cards, signing a house contract and visiting university, city, and so on.
In the context of the complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, all international trade routes between Vietnam and Germany have been stopped to prevent the spread of the pandemic, however, under the protection of the VNU University of Science and the University of Greifswald with the Vietnamese Embassy in Germany as well as financial support from the Erasmus+ exchange program, I completed the study program satisfactorily and arrived home safely and on schedule.
I came to Greifswald when the whole of Germany was implementing the second social distancing period, all teaching and learning activities were carried out online, but the professors in the courses that I enrolled were extremely helpful and considerate with any problems I may have either on the topic that I have questions on, or about my requests regarding my research. Due to the limitation of online learning, professors have also made efforts to make up for missing face-to-face learning in class, all subject information and learning materials are uploaded to Moodle so students can fully study at home.
Institute of Geography and Geology, University of Greifswald
Fortunately, after 2 months of studying, the Greifswald city has controlled the epidemic very well, so I had the opportunity to participate in a field trip in Eldena National Forest, Greifswald, and take part in data analysis as well as have internal scientific exchanges with students and scientists from the University of Berlin Humboldt. This is a great opportunity for me to approach, exchange academically as well as learn new methods, tools and technologies of the application of remote sensing technology in forest monitoring in Europe.
Fieldtrip in Eldena National Forest, Greifswald
One thing I especially like when I have the opportunity to study abroad is the space for self-study and research in the library. There are two main libraries in Greifswald: Bereichsbibliothek (located on Loefflestraße Campus) and zentrale Universitätsbibliothek (located on Beitzplatz Campus). Greifswald's libraries are modern and well-stocked, making them an excellent place to study. Students go to the library to study at all times of the year, but especially during exam season. I used to study for examinations in groups with my classmates at the library from dawn until 10 p.m.; this is really a very memorable memory. Besides, private classrooms and private study rooms are available to students at no cost.
Life in Greifswald
Greifswald is a little seashore town with a tranquil atmosphere. I stayed in the Fleischerwiesse dormitory. It takes only 7 minutes to walk from the dormitory to the city center and 3 minutes to go to the region's largest supermarket. I share a four-bedroom apartment with two other international students. This is a fantastic opportunity for me to enhance my English skills as well as meet new friends.
My roommates were all very friendly and we made a lot of good memories together. We often have dinner and watch movies together. I used to cook Pho and invited them. They all loved it and expressed an interest in visiting Vietnam if the occasion arose.
Greifswald's landscape is very lovely, and the atmosphere is clean. Bicycles are the primary mode of transportation for many individuals in this area. I also used bicycles to go to university and cycle around Greifswald. In Greifswald, everyone does a very good job of sorting waste and is environmentally conscious.
Another great thing that happened in Greifswald was that I met a lot of wonderful and kind Vietnamese people. The aunts and uncles have always helped, encouraged and motivated me.
Greifswald city center
Eco-friendly coastal city
6 months in Greifswald gave me a truly unrivalled experience. Thanks to this study program, I have the fortune to experience new things, understand deeply about culture and humanity, acquire new skills and have more opportunities to develop myself in the future. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the ERASMUS + program, University of Greifswald as well as the professor and the people in Greifswald for giving me unforgettable memories.
See you again!
Nguyen Thien Phuong Thao