from exchange students
BudapestIf you have the chance to participate in the EMPA exchange, you should take it. This is an opportunity you will only get one time in your life and you will enjoy having all the experiences, knowledge and people for the rest of your life. I had the amazing opportunity to go on an exchange from Leiden University in The Hague to the Corvinus University in Budapest for one semester. In Budapest I enjoyed the advantages of studying at the best university of Central and Eastern Europe. There were many possibilities to follow interesting and region specific courses, like the history of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. All of this in beautiful traditional university buildings, located right in the city centre. The city of Budapest has a lot to offer its students, such as exciting restaurants with exotic cuisines, an amazing night life and (of course) relaxing in a Spa after studying for your exams. Furthermore, there is an amazing international student community in Budapest in which you will never be lonely, making friends for life and building an international network for your further career. Another great experience is the Hungarian culture. Not being used to outsiders, once they get to know you, the Hungarians are the most hospitable people in Europe and you’ll be part of the Hungarian family forever.
TallinnIf you are a student of an EMPA network member, you have the unique chance to spend an exchange semester at any of the prestigious partner universities with their various specializations. At my home institution Corvinus University of Budapest, I received a great training and strong support. My decision to go to Tallinn for one semester was triggered by two events: First of all, I was inspired by the academic work of two professors of Ragnar Nurkse Department and wanted to learn from them. Second, as a student of public administration, it seemed to me an important experience to get to know more about e-government. Where else could a student of public administration learn more about this than in Estonia, the forerunner of e-government in the world? Tallinn University of Technology is a very modern, high-level place to study with a very good atmosphere. At the department, I enjoyed really good classes with very motivated professors offering more than just the mainstream answers and concepts to academic questions. My opinions were challenged and my mind widened. The courses are in intense modules meaning that each course lasts one or two weeks. This promotes that students engage in a very intensive way with the course topics. Regarding my aims, I made contact with even more impressive professors at the department and at any time, everyone integrated me and was open for discussion and individual support. I enjoyed great lectures and discussions and can also recommend the Oxford Training Sessions on Modern Information Society, a cooperation of Oxford University and Tallinn University of Technology. To sum up, the EMPA exchange enabled me to learn from professors whose work impressed me a lot, to create personal networks and friendships and to specialize more in my research area.
MilanThe chance to study some time abroad is something every student should grab. The EMPA network therefore gives you an unique opportunity to do this at some very prominent universities. I chose to spend one term at the SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan, which is actually the business school of the Università Bocconi. I can recommend an exchange to the public management program for everybody who’s interested in all aspects and all levels of the public sector. Professors and the many guest speakers expect rather a lot of you, especially in terms of presentations, group and individual assignments, in-class cooperation, etc. But this puts also less pressure on the final exams.The MPM class is a very diverse but also a very close group. To join this group after their first term is not easy but after a while it is great. That is why I recommend to study there for both the second and third term.Lastly, I cannot forget to mention the city itself. In Milan you can find everything you are looking for. It is a very busy city with many social activities like the hundreds of aperitivi. Milan is also close to the other beautiful cities in northern Italy which are easy and especially worth to visit when you have a day off.
ParisThe last part of every class of the course Comparative Cultural Policies was reserved for debate, often with a guest speaker. Guest speakers came from six different countries , notably the countries our class was comparing, the U.S., China, France, Italy, the U.K. and Germany. To have different guest speakers from each country gave the class a great insight in the various perspectives on cultural policy. As a result of my participation in the debates, after the course was coming to an end, together with six other students (from a class of 150+ students), I was invited at the teacher’s home to evaluate the course. In preparing for the evaluation I got to know my French class mates a bit better. Furthermore, the evaluation was a nice way to close my stay in Paris and look back on a valuable semester exchange experience .
LeidenI always was an open minded student with a focus on intercultural experience and knowledge.Therefore, I used every chance to study abroad during my studies of law. So I spend a year in Athens, when the crisis was an actual matter there, studied in South Korea, when Gangnam Style was in vogue and finally earned a LL.M. degree from a Law School in Madison/Wisconsin (the middle of nowhere).My studies at DUV Speyer were more like a hobby during my PhD work in criminal law. I never thought that public administration could be a part my favorite science field.But life means change. So I studied public administration in a full time program besides my PhD. Sometimes, life contains also pleasant surprises and the international office at my home university offered me to join the EMPA-Program at University Leiden (Campus The Hague).Lucky me! Studying abroad again! The EMPA-Program at University Leiden offered me a wide selection of very interesting courses and a wide view of topics I never heard before. Until my time in Leiden/The Hague I was only a former law student. After winter semester 2017/18 I could be the prime minister in Germany for sure. Or at least a political adviser at the European level (I hope). Anyway. The EMPA-Program was an experience, a challenge and an adventure at the same time. The atmosphere in Leiden and The Hague was professional and (in contrast to most universities in Germany) very modern and open minded. It was a lot of work – but that is the price a law student has to pay in the field of public administration. I also enjoyed the high level of practical orientation and their connection to administrative science. To my future colleagues from Germany: The food in the Netherlands is better than you think!
Paris I spent an exchange semester at SciencesPo in Paris. I can recommend this experience to everybody! First of all, as a city Paris had certainly many things to offer that you cannot find in Leuven. Keep in mind though, that it is not student-minded at all and that costs for housing and general expenses can be multiplied by two or three compared with Leuven. The courses at SciencesPo were very interesting, I took for example “Lobbying européen” and “Systèmes politiques nationaux de l’ UE”. You can take courses in French or English or both - like I did - but if you already have proficiency in French, it might be worthwhile to take all courses in French (being of course more demanding). At SciencesPo, one also works with a pleasant teaching method. Emphasis is placed on presentations and papers during the semester, meaning you will have a lot of work during the semester. Therefore, the exams at the end only count for a smaller percentage of the grades. But eventually, it all pays off since the courses offered are very stimulating. Moreover, SciencesPo is perhaps not the “typical” exchange experience, in that teachers are demanding and treat you as a regular student.