Matija to begin with, tell us what this exchange is for you and where you are right now?
I am currently on a student exchange in Poland, more specifically in Warsaw at the Warsaw school of Economics. This is my fourth exchange! I spent the first exchange in America at the University of Michigan Flint, the second at Koc University in Istanbul, and the third at Nanyang Technological school in Singapore. Each one is a story unto itself and I consider myself to have gained experiences that I would never have gained had I stayed home at ZSEM.
I understand how much you want to travel so much, but is it difficult to reconcile your college obligations and your long stay in Zagreb?
Honestly, it is not easy to reconcile all your college obligations and a long stay in Zagreb. A particular problem is the differences between the programs of individual schools and ZSEM. It took a lot of effort, persistence and e-mails before the exchange to be able to acknowledge the items I listened to at all exchanges. In all, I was assisted by all ZSEM professors from whom I received a lot of information and support. I must also mention ZSEM’s international office, which has always met me. Mr. Javier Aquayo, Stjepan Blazevic and others in the international office have always been here when I needed them. As I mentioned, before every exchange we need a lot of written mails, our International office and International offices of partner schools. Developing a schedule, searching for appropriate courses that can be recognized at ZSEM, accommodation, drafting a Learning Agreement, and coordinating with Year Leaders at ZSEM are integral parts of the exchange. After returning from the exchange, it is necessary to take exams, listen to subjects at summer school, etc. Of course, it’s not easy to listen to objects while colleagues on facebook are getting pictures on the beach, but I find it more than worth it.
Can you distinguish some differences and similarities that you noticed between ZSEM and the faculty abroad?
The colleges I was at were of high quality and I learned a lot from them. ZSEM prepared me well and I had no problems mastering the courses at other colleges. Other colleges are larger and have much better infrastructure. I find that our professors match with knowledge all the professors who have taught me on exchanges. I would also like to mention that ZSEM provides individual access to each student and that communication with the professors is excellent. At other colleges, especially now in Poland, I have not felt such an individual approach to each student as the groups are larger.
I believe you have made friends with students from all over the world?
True, he has friends all over the world! From Canada, USA, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, European countries, Singapore and even Kyrgyzstan, Iran, etc. It is wonderful to meet people who do not think as we think, of different beliefs, cultures, religions, attitudes and knowledge. Contact with each such person widens your perspectives and you truly become a citizen of the world. You can learn a lot from each of them personally, and even more from the country you are in. USA, Turkey, Singapore and Poland, I don’t know if it could be different, which is a great thing.
What experiences can you single out as the most interesting?
It is very difficult to single out one experience. Every exchange is a great experience, every day and traveling is a new experience when you are on an exchange. Singapore is certainly my biggest cultural and climate shock. Turkey was simply indescribable. America as a land of opportunity and materialism. Poland very similar to Croatia, yet different.
Which of the 4 exchanges would you immediately repeat if you could?
Everyone! But if I have to choose, I would still put Istanbul (Turkey) first.
Considering that you have been out of Croatia for a long time, do you see yourself abroad or not in the future?
Hard to say, he would love to try his hand out there, but eventually he would return to Croatia.
What would you tell the ZSEMs?
Take the opportunity to exchange! Personally, I guarantee you that wherever you go you will not regret it. Be it India, Turkey, China, Singapore, France, Germany, USA… The exchange is an invaluable experience and you will prosper in every way and enjoy it all.
Interlocutor: Matija Šokec