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Online Exchange Semester

Mark Shalygin, a 4th-year student at HSE University Faculty of Law tells about his online exchange semester at EBS - European Business School in Germany.

EBS

EBS
European Business School
Mark Shalygin

My name is Mark Shalygin, I'm a 4th year student at HSE University Faculty of Law.

In autumn 2020, I planned to study in Germany at EBS - European Business School. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the host university cancelled the offline programme and switched to online teaching.

I faced a choice: either to combine the online exchange at EBS with my last year at HSE or not to participate in the online German programme at all.

By pursuing studies at two universities, new opportunities opened up for me.

I studied my online exchange semester at the German university from September 16 to December 16. During the three months, I learned a lot and changed for the better.

Preparation for the online semester Online mobility experience • ExamsSummary

Four Pros and Four Cons of online mobility

Online mobility is for you if you want:

  • to earn credits at HSE for courses offered at a foreign university
  • to be safe at home with your family
  • to save money and time
  • to combine studies and a military training

You can save time, financial and other resources that are required to move abroad. At the same time, you can combine online mobility with studying and doing a military training at HSE. For me, the number one advantage of online mobility was an opportunity to stay close to my family and friends.

Online mobility is not for you if you want:

  • to actively engage (or just engage ;) with foreign students
  • to experience life in a foreign country
  • to immerse yourself in a learning experience overseas
  • to travel

For me, the main disadvantage of online mobility was that I could not experience all aspects of studying at a European university. I could not communicate with foreign students and teachers in person.

EBS - European Business School

Preparation for the online mobility

How did you prepare for your online exchange semester? 

My preparation consisted of getting access to the necessary online systems.

There was no special preparation for the online exchange. I only needed to get access to the online systems of the host university: check my university email address and connect to the local LMS system.

What kind of support did you receive from the host university?

I had a tutor from EBS University who kept in touch with me throughout my studies.

I could ask him a question anytime and get an answer almost immediately. It was him who sent me all the necessary instructions on how to connect to university services and other useful information.

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Was this support enough for you?

There was more than enough support.

On September 16, the first day of my studies, there was a special introductory session for foreign students. Every step of the study process was explained in detail: how online lessons run, what online tools are used, what opportunities there are. The session was very useful, because teachers clearly explained to me how to connect to online classes, where to find my schedule and additional materials for each subject.

EBS - European Business School

Online Study Experience

How was your educational process technically organized? (platforms, systems)

Technically, the learning process involved three platforms.

• A special studying system, where you could view the schedule, get links to online classes, download all the necessary materials for classes and see the grades - similar to LMS at HSE.

• An online environment of the university (a separate website), where I often used the email service to communicate with teachers and receive important organizational and technical information.

It was also possible to use the online library, participate in extracurricular activities and even become a member of a career club and receive invitations to apply for a job to European companies - for example, I was asked to apply to the German branch of Amazon.

• ZOOM - all classes were held in ZOOM.

 

How was the learning process organized? How did you combine it with your studies at the HSE?

The learning process was very interesting and unusual for me. I noted a number of features that were different in EBS compared to HSE.

• There are no separate lectures and seminars - each lesson is a mix of a seminar and a lecture.  The teacher explains the material and at the same time asks students questions.

• You do not need to read anything extra - the teacher gives you all the material you need for the exam and gives you a comprehensive understanding of the subject.

• No homework - Almost at all - I was asked to answer an open discussion question only twice.

• Another way of studying law. The training of the specialty is carried out through solutions to cases and not through the prism of doctrinal knowledge. Thus, when I analyzed cases - legal situations, I used the knowledge received from the teacher, and I managed to take in and remember the material for a long time.

Also it’s important to mention that in EBS University, the rules for attending classes are stricter. You can't skip or be late for classes at all. If you skip more than two times without a serious reason, you are expelled from EBS. I tried to leave a few times earlier or was a little late and was reprimanded, even though the classes ran online. They are very strict about attendance.

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The learning process itself looked like this

In the first month of my online studies, I only had three introductory courses in international private law. At the same time, I was taking four courses at HSE. Fortunately, my course schedules rarely overlapped. Even when there was a scheduling conflict, I could always seek help and advice from tutors or professors from both universities and find solutions to attend all classes. I studied every day except Saturdays.

In general, combining studies at two universities was possible, but required extra effort. I had a strong desire to take the most from both HSE and EBS Universities, and I think I succeeded.

What subjects did you study after the introductory course?

I chose by myself all subjects that I studied after the introductory course for foreign students.

My choice was based on my interest in the subject, on the practicality of the course and on the number of study credits that I could transfer to HSE.

EBS University expected me to earn at least 12 credits, but not more than 21 credits.

The four courses that I managed to study in three months were as follows:

• European corporate governance and regulation of financial institutions

• Enforcement of rights in international markets: Intellectual property law and competition law

• European trade law

• Conclusion of contracts in international trade

EBS - European Business School

How did you interact with German students?

I communicated with foreign students in two different ways:

Participation in a group project

I prepared and presented a project on the economic and political system of Switzerland together with German students. We met online about ten times, spoke only English, exchanged thoughts and created a presentation together. It was very interesting.

We exchanged contacts and now I have acquaintances in southeastern Germany.

Communication during classes

During classes, I discussed various topics suggested by the teachers with German students: from the influence of the word can on various wordings in a judicial agreement to the negative effects of globalization. But this was more of a debate than a conversation.

I noticed that European students pay a lot of attention to global issues, including climate change, globalization and human rights. They consider the solutions to such problems based on the interests not of a single country, but on common interests of different groups of society.

In general, I was got exposed to a different type of thinking and understood that one can look at the same problem in completely different ways.

Was there an opportunity for extracurricular communication?

Various online games and events were organized, but I decided to focus on my studies. Nevertheless, there was an opportunity to communicate additionally with German students at online extracurricular meetings. For example, EBS University did a «Future career online conversation» where it was possible to discuss career plans with other students.

Exams

The exams were held in an unusual format. I had never solved cases online within a limited period ot time. Also there were essay-type questions on a particular topic. There were no tests-type questions, that were more usual for me. I had a very limited time to do it: 45 minutes or 90 minutes, depending on the complexity of the course.

Nevertheless, once I passed the first exam, the rest seemed not so difficult.

EBS - European Business School

Summary

That was cool!

I really enjoyed studying online at a German university, while wasting no time and gaining knowledge at HSE at the same time.

I was able to “study in Europe” and fulfill graduation requirements at HSE. All of the courses that I took at EBS had HSE equivalents, thus the credits could be counted towards my HSE degree.

In addition, I completed my studies without spending any money and leaving my family.

I was absolutely delighted that I participated in an online mobility, which definitely expanded the boundaries of my thinking. I understood that it was possible to get knowledge in an online format. I realized that online education has a lot of advantages and in some ways is better than traditional offline learning.