Erasmus + International Credit Mobility (ICM) helps students to gain experience and improve themselves

Erasmus + ICM is an exchange program of the European Union. From 2016 up to now, many staff and students of VNU University of Science has carried out their mobility at HEIs in European countries under this Erasmus + program. Let's hear Le Thanh Trung’s sharing and thought (K63 Chemistry Talent program, Faculty of Chemistry) - after his mobility in Spain during the outbreak of Covid-19 in the first half of 2020:

My Erasmus+ Mobility to Universitat Politècnica de València was a journey from start to finish. While my semester only lasted for six months, from January to July of 2020, it wouldn’t be an understatement for me to say that the exchange has left a big impression on me not only academically, but also experience and culture-wise.

Erasmus + International Credit Mobility (ICM) helps students to gain experience and improve themselves

Academics

Navigating through the site for searching subjects, I was given multiple choices of joining subjects of multiple faculties within the university, which I find liberating when it comes to choosing the subjects that would majorly benefit my degree back in my home university, VNU University of Science. With the help of my academic advisor, PhD. Pham Tien Duc, we managed to choose a fitting curriculum for my mobility. As I arrived at the university to enrol in such subjects that the schedule for the subjects are available for me to look up, I found out that there were some overlaps between my currently-picked subjects within my curriculum r: either it is complete overlapping from weeks to weeks, or because of the shift of the laboratory schedule of each week that creates the overlapping. Nonetheless, I managed to rearrange my schedule to best fit my most prioritized subjects, and then for other subjects, I tried to either enrol the same subject in another faculty or replaced it with a similar subject within my faculty. All and all, as hectic as the process was, I still managed to have a decent enough curriculum, albeit having to talk directly the professors to readjust my study schedule during the shift when the laboratory shift occurred.

The subjects themselves are really interesting, as many subjects of my choice chose a more liberal way of teaching, integrated with field trips to factories and laboratories so that the students can get more involved with the actual process and experiments carried out in real life, rather than just being restricted to theories and exercises.

Most notably in my Applied Photochemistry course, I got the chance to visit multiple factories and laboratories in Almeria that focus on Photodegradation and Photosynthesis. Thanks to the barren land and location of the city, it is a prime candidate for such reactions to be built and occur. I got the chance to see the water processing factory with great insight thanks to the help and guide of the head scientist there, and hence, further reinforcing my knowledge on the topic.

Erasmus + International Credit Mobility (ICM) helps students to gain experience and improve themselves
Erasmus + International Credit Mobility (ICM) helps students to gain experience and improve themselves

The laboratory practices were interesting as well. There, I got the chance to not only participate in many advanced experiments, but also was able to use and be familiar with many machines that I have not yet to learn and use at my home university. The professors would always provide the information beforehand, and then explain them more deeply as we go into the experiments. However, it was quite unfortunate that under the emergence of COVID-19, the country goes into the state of lockdown, and consequently, I didn’t have the chance to do the second half of the laboratory curriculum myself.

Erasmus + International Credit Mobility (ICM) helps students to gain experience and improve themselves
Erasmus + International Credit Mobility (ICM) helps students to gain experience and improve themselves

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 schedule changes. Even during the quarantine period when everything must be conducted online, the professors still gave their full effort to make up for the missed laboratory classes, and continued to teach the remaining parts of the curriculum.

Experience

The experience I have with Erasmus+ Mobility Program with the people and culture was very special. Partly because of the COVID-19 outbreak, but also because it was the first time in my life that I would live abroad all on my own.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak happened in Spain, I was guided by my flatmates and classmates to experience many of the cultural sites and restaurant to give me a real taste of what it is like to be in Spain, more specifically, in Valencia. There are many firsts that I had, and skills to be learned. I learned how to keep track of my monthly expenses and readjusted so that every month would not be higher than a nominal peak of equally distributed funds, as well as developing a healthier eating and exercising habits.

Here, I met numerous people that had an influence on my life and changed my perspective in many ways. From them, I received much information and advice on studying at UPV, as well as adjusting my lifestyle to be more fitting to the pace in Spain. During my time off schoolwork, I was able to visit museums, the famous oceanographic site, and many of the historical sites and churches that are filled with the culture and history of the region.

Erasmus + International Credit Mobility (ICM) helps students to gain experience and improve themselves

Activities

When I first came to Valencia, one of the first activities that I participated in was the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) welcome party, in which I got to meet many of my fellow Erasmus+ scholars, as well as many students within the ESN, who shared great insight and provided information on not only living in Spain, but also in the numerous countries that they came from.

During the lockdown, I spent most of my time at home like many others, studying and enrolling in additional online courses. During that period, the university student network still actively hosted many online events, such as story telling, culture exchange, and even cooking recipe sharing, which was of great help during the lockdown.

All in all, my mobility yielded many fruitful results and has helped me develop as a more well-rounded scholar. The Erasmus + Mobility program helps students experience and improve themselves a lot. 

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