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Student experiences

Lauren Jacobs - Erasmus funded trip to Le Havre, France

The Ethical Manager course in Le Havre gave me the opportunity to travel, to learn something, to integrate with other cultures and meet new people. What more could a student want?

The trip, funded by Erasmus, involved students from countries all over Europe, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, England, France as well as a bunch of international students studying in those countries, from outside Europe. It was fascinating for me, not only to mix with these students but learn with them under the guidance of lectures from each respective country. It was interesting to hear the different perspectives of the students and how they respond to ethicality and how deep its involvement is within their culture. It was equally surprising to hear that many of the issues I have faced within my own University or my own country were felt also by students from all over Europe.

The two week long course allowed us the time to experience lectures from each country on topics varying between ethical finance, ethical marketing, CSR, ethical behaviour in the public sector etc. It was a great experience within the lectures as there was a large amount of interaction, we got sorted in to mixed nationality groups within the first week to create a CSR report for a company we invented. This allowed us to mingle and learn about other cultures as we worked within these groups throughout the weeks sessions. This process was repeated in the second week with a change round of groups, meaning that we all spent time with different people from different countries.

The accommodation provided was shared, I shared a small room with Paula and although at first we weren't sure how we were going to cope within a small area, we both agreed that we had come to love it. I now find it strange to come home and not share a room with someone.  Breakfast was provided in the accommodation and we all found it strange drinking coffee or tea from a bowl but we soon got used to the idea, and again it now feels strange not to.

In my opinion the French student helpers/organisers, Marie & Francesco, really made the trip. They didn't treat us purely as students they were helping during theday, but they wanted to be our friends also, inviting us out to their friends, to the bars and showing us the student life of the city. At the weekend, myself, Paula, Aija (from our University) went with Marie & Francesco to Etretat on Saturday and Deauville & Trouville on the Sunday. It was great to be immersed within the French culture and also learn some Italian culture as that is Francesco's home country. I also think it's fantastic that these relationships are being taking forward as Marie is coming to London in August to see us, and there are plans in the works for myself and Francesco to go to Lithuania and meet Paula there.

This trip has had a huge impact on my personal life, I found it humbling that so many students could speak such incredible English at ages similar to mine and it has inspired me to learn a language. I have very basic grounding in French so I plan to continue the learning experience. I have made tighter friendships with the people within my University but I've also made really fantastic connections with people from other countries, with a hopes to create lasting collaborations. On a personal level the conversations I had with other students has helped me understand that we all have problems and in a lot of respects we feel the same. This had a profound effect on me, in that it is helping me to overcome my anxieties and enjoy the benefits of life and co-operation, the experience has opened many options to me and for that I am thankful.

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