Studying at the university provides a large number of opportunities, students want to develop themselves and move on, and an internship abroad is a great opportunity for self-improvement.
The Irkutsk University newspaper reporter talked with ISU History faculty student Katya Chernikova, about her trip to France and the experience of studying abroad.
Hi! Tell us a bit about yourself. Why did you decide to enter the major “International relations” at the ISU faculty of History?
Hi! I’m Katya, I’m 20. I have been studying and loving English since kindergarten, and history since high school. Such hobbies formed an interesting symbiosis, which in 2020 led me to the faculty of History to the educational programme "International relations".
Tell us about your internship in France. Which city and university did you attend there?
The internship lasted over four months. It began on January 3 and ended on May 6. I was lucky enough to study in Rennes in the northwest of France, in the historical region of Brittany. And I was hosted by the Institute of Political Studies “Sciences Po Rennes”.
The study day was always different. For a program in English, this was often one to two classes per a day and self-study in the library. Students studying in French, of course, had more things to do. Most of all, probably, I remember the week-long period of the spring break between the main program and exams. I was able to travel a little. Traveling around French cities was a wonderful experience. Now I really love Lyon.
How many years have you been studying French and where did you study it?
I have been studying French for about four years.
Did you find the internship by yourself or with the help of the university staff? Was there a contest? How it was?
The university staff helped me a lot with my internship. At first, Ms. Alexandra Kuklina, our lecturer and deputy dean for extracurricular activities, informed me about the internship. For the most part, I worked with the ISU International Office and specifically with Ms. Christina Savina. The competitive examination was both at ISU and at Sciences Po. I know for sure that I was never the only applicant, however, taking all the risks and filled out all the documents, finally I was the only candidate, waiting for a response from France. I can’t say that the requirements were very high: knowledge of English at a level not lower than B2, elementary French, high academic achievements as well as bureaucratic procedures successfully completed.
What level of language is required for an internship and life in France? Have your language skills been improved after the exchange?
I was very lucky with the language requirements. I applied to the programme, being the 1st year student. At Science Po I chose the program in English. Knowledge has certainly improved. I can’t say that is more effective to study French in France, because ISU lecturers teach French definitely not worse. However, because of living in France, a lot of new grammar and vocabulary has been explored. In the future, of course, I can try to apply for programs in French, but I definitely need to improve my knowledge of the language.
What did you worry about before and during the internship?
During the pandemic, it’s very difficult to go somewhere, even if there are reasons to travel.
Tell us about your first day in France. What were the emotions?
My first day was very exhausting. I had to travel from Paris across the country by bus and look for my dormitory at night. I didn’t know then that at night, and even more at weekends, no one works. But I was very lucky to meet a French couple who helped me. So, the first impression was the human kindness.
What do you think of France in general?
I got coronavirus right before the New Year and my departure. I arrived later than everyone else, but I consider the rest of the difficulties as experience. I fell in love with France once and for ever. I really miss the Breton climate. It is similar to the climate of St. Petersburg: rainy and changeable, but mild. The difference is that in France it is noticeably warmer. After living in a city that you can get around in a couple of hours, you start to go crazy with an hour standing in traffic. Of course, I miss the French too. People are different everywhere, but the ones I met were the best.
What was the most valuable experience of the exchange?
I think there were two values. Firstly, English is the language of the world, and you need to learn any vocabulary. Abroad, you will definitely have conversations about everything in the world. And second, never stop opening up to new cultures and new people. I have studied with students from dozens of countries, and I am completely sure that you should never miss the opportunity to get new experience.
What are your plans for the future?
Having learned more about the possibilities, now I plan more. Probably, the main thing is to visit another country as a volunteer. There are no special preferences for the countries to visit because any experience can be useful. Volunteering is a promising way to put skills into practice and accumulate new knowledge. And keep learning, of course.