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Once Erasmus, always Erasmus

Katerina Kandylidou who is a second year student, shares her study abroad experience. 
If you also want to study abroad, read this useful article. 

Nominated in Ghent University

My name is Katerina Kandylidou and I am from Thessaloniki, Greece. When I decided to do my Master in NRU HSE in Saint Petersburg I never thought that I could have the opportunity to make my documents for a semester abroad. In the second semester of my studies on my Master: Experience Economy: Management in Hospitality and Tourism, I saw that it is absolutely possible to make this dream come true. I finally make my choices (Ghent University, Mazaryk University and Jonkoping University). After some weeks I had the answer: my first choice, which was Ghent University, came into reality and the most important the HSE University nominated me as a student which will take an Erasmus scholarship.

Finding housing

Firstly, I needed to find a student room in Ghent. Dormitories in Ghent costs 450 euro/month and not everyone can take a place. This happens because the city has 4 Universities, each of them has around 50.000-75.000 students. This of course makes Ghent ideal for student life but very difficult for housing. I stayed the first 20 days in a house of a family that left for vacations and gave this house just for those days. In this house we stayed 5 people: one Italian girl from Philology faculty, one Russian from HSE University as well but from another Master program, one Greek (she was there for an internship), a Portuguese guy from IT sector and me. It seems like an anecdote but actually the five of us became very quickly a family because of the difficulties about finding a house and of course because we leaved all together and we were connected with same problem. After 20 days we finally found a huge house with 5 floors in the historic city centre. Main problem was that the house had no furniture at all (only in kitchen and bathrooms). We decided to take from second hand shops and from people that are leaving the city and giving for free several things. All in all, our leaving room was completely foul from free furniture and our rooms were just with second hand things. I can say that it was taught experience but in the same time funny and of course, once more I prove to myself how person can be strong if the situation that arouse is like this.



University life/courses

The first week was an introduction week in which people from International office explain everything about documents, faculties, courses and about city.

All of us had two different excursions around the city and also we had a welcome lunch or dinner (depends on Faculty). I was in the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics. It is the biggest and, as they say, the best in Ghent University. We had our welcome lunch and after this we took our courses. I took in total 5 courses and I had 4 times per week classes. I will describe the two courses that I liked the most. The first was Buying Behavior. I had 5 hours per week of this course and it was every Monday. In this course we learn the Consumer Behavior. More specific we learnt about attitudes, decision making process, behavioral economics, group influence and Neuromarketing. So in total we learnt about the How of consumption, the when and where of consumption and the who of consumption. Except this, we needed to separated on groups and make either a qualitative research or a quantitative research. I was on group with two German girls; our subject was about the profile of Green consumers. We conducted a questionnaire and make a qualitative research which we presented after this inside the class. Last but not least, we also needed to conduct two researches in the consumer Lab of the University. I went there two times, answer some questionnaires and make some researches. It was really interesting subject, in which I learn many things. The second course that I want to describe briefly is Project Management.



Project Management was taught by one of the best professors of Ghent University (as the rating and student grades shows). Every week we were learning another way of calculating a project. PERT analysis, project scheduling with recourses, project control, risk analysis, CPM, how to create Gant charts etch. Furthermore, we needed to separated into groups and create our own project, make risk analysis and calculate Critical Path, critical chain and whatever was needed depending on the project that we choose. In general, all the courses were interesting.

Working in a company in Ghent

Ghent is also a city which is economically rich. This means that even if the financial crisis is almost existed all over Europe this doesn’t mean that you can’t easily find a job. One more advantage of the city is that people speak in English in a high level and as a result finding a job that doesn’t need Dutch speaking skills is an easy task. I found a job in Manpower Company. Manpower is a Company which helps people to find jobs in many sectors of other companies. So as a result, Manpower also gives you clothes, knowledge about your tasks in the other company which you are going to work and other things that is needed. Main things that were needed from me was a Belgian phone number, Belgian bank account, document about where I leave and of course passport. Manpower found me a job in Katoen natie Company, which is a factory with different products that come to super markets. I needed to be in an office and take questionnaires that already were answered from Dutch people and collect their answers either to Excel either in some point to SPSS.  I went to the job two times per week and it was really interesting.



City life

Ghent is located in East Flanders and it is a Dutch speaking city. It is one of the most historic cities in Belgium and the education system is more near to Dutch system of education than to French. The way of life in total is very calm, people in general have slow rhythms and they seem really happy, always. The life seems easy and the only thing that Dutch people complain is about weather. They are very friendly, want always to help and well educated. The city is also very friendly for bicycles and it is not very big (especially comparing to Russian cities). Travelling is also easy if we think that Ghent is a city that is very near to Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, London and Cologne. It is also very near to smaller cities of France, Germany, Belgium and The Nederland’s.

Some thoughts

I believe that my experience in Ghent University is one of the most important experiences in my life. Except of people that I met there, which was from all over the world and that made it even more interesting, I also improve my English and French language. Furthermore, I took skills and knowledge for my working and education future. Once more, I realize how I want to work as a professor in a university and of course make a PhD research in the near future. I also believe that in combination with my experience in NRU HSE of Saint Petersburg all of this is a real vehicle for many other achievements in the future.