Would you do a semester abroad again during the Corona Pandemic?
Definitely yes! Not because it's super relaxing and the best way to get good grades, but because it was an experience, despite Corona. I had a lot of online classes, unfortunately, and I saw much more pictures on my screen of Skype or Zoom meetings during the semester than pictures of castles or wineries. I also know that it was no different for my colleagues in Innsbruck, so it didn't really matter who I was listening to online or where the person was sitting, I would have been at home anyway.
Still, the time I got to spend there was really cool. I got to meet a lot of (always putting Corona safety measures first) nice people from all over the world and of course, France and I got to go on some really cool field trips. At the very end of the semester, we even got to see a couple of wineries, which would have actually been the core element of the degree.
What did you learn?
First and foremost, that you have to be flexible and not make too many plans. For example, my Erasmus semester was canceled at short notice due to the pandemic, which fortunately turned out to be a misunderstanding after all and the courses were held in the partner university. In France, I was confronted with very last-minute official notifications, which led to an overnight departure from Angers the first time and a return trip the second time, also with barely 24h notice.
Nevertheless, the university always took good care of me and I never had to be so flexible in my life. In retrospect, I can smile at the events but meanwhile, it was a bit stressful to cram your whole life into a car in one night and drive off at 4am to have left the country before the lockdown started. And of course, a lot is lost in terms of teaching because of Corona, but this affects many students and not only the Erasmus students.
The lessons in France were thematically something completely new for me, very special and with a completely different orientation and strategy. I really like the topic and it was a lot of fun the whole time. In a project, we came to a result, which may even be published in a larger paper.
Oh yes, I haven't mentioned the food yet. I love fresh baguette with salty butter, that is my absolute symbol for this semester. Getting a nice 'Pain de Tradition' at the Boulanger and carrying it home under my arm and wearing a mask. Apart from that, there were some other great things to try, first of all, wine of course.
Conclusion: I think I have definitely broadened my horizons thematically.
Would I do it again? - Definitely yes!
Felix Baumgartner in France, Photo: Felix Baumgartner
Visit to a winery, Photo: Felix Baumgartner
In the cellar of the winery, Photo: Felix Baumgartner
French wine, Photo: Felix Baumgartner
Fellow students. Photo: Felix Baumgartner
Exploring France. Photo: Felix Baumgartner
Time to enjoy - French specialties. Foto: Felix Baumgartner