Last year, Vladyslav Kucherenko of Poltava became a participant of Erasmus+, an academic exchange program. He studied at the Technical University of Applied Sciences in Lübeck, Germany.
He went abroad while studying Construction and Civil Engineering as a senior student at Yuri Kondratiuk Poltava Polytechnic Institute, a Ukrainian university with the lasting history of cooperation with the Technical University of Applied Sciences. The history of their partnership began with the academic exchange program for academic and research staff, Erasmus+ Mobility for Training and Erasmus+ Mobility for Teaching. Ukrainian scholars visited Germany, and German academics came to our country.
In the 2019-20 academic year, Erasmus+ program opened new opportunities for students of Poltava Polytechnic Institute to study in Europe.
A master’s student at the Poltava university, Vladyslav Kucherenko spent several months studying in Lübeck. When he came back, he successfully defended his graduation thesis. His project was devoted to the improvement of Poltava’s urban space. When working on his project, he took advantage of German professor’s advices.
The student was able to participate in this program thanks to Yuri Kondratiuk Poltava Polytechnic Institute. There, Vladyslav received the necessary knowledge and mastered a foreign language.
“The thoughts to make construction a lifetime occupation have crossed my mind back in the childhood, when I was putting together a Lego constructor,” Vladyslav Kucherenko says. “My dad was approving of that. The idea hadn’t disappeared even after graduating from school. That’s why I became a student of Yuri Kondratiuk Poltava National Technical University, as it was called back then. I am very happy that later on, I enrolled in a master’s program, because during that period, new opportunities and new prospects opened before me.”
The first time Vladyslav Kucherenko visited Germany was as a third-year university student.
“A friend of mine recommended to go on a student’s practical training. It was a good opportunity to improve my language proficiency and, which is important for a student, to earn some money,” Vladyslav says. “After coming back, I began asking about various programs available at our university, but couldn’t find the one I could be interested in. After that, I visited Germany again, under the same program as before: practical training for students. At that time, I visited a university in Dresden and became enthusiastic about studying abroad. And when in my sixth year of study I was offered a program of studying in Germany, I wasted no time and went to the university’s international department to sort out all details of the trip. Preparations, Skype communication with representatives of the foreign educational institution, tickets — and finally, I found out what it means to be a European student.”
Erasmus+ program envisages that an undergraduate student can go to Germany and work there on his or her master’s thesis with a consulting professor.
While still a student majoring in Construction and Civil Engineering, Vladyslav Kucherenko worked on the thesis Analysis of Design Solutions for Memorial Complexes in Poltava. In particular, he designed a project of beautifying the Memorial to Our Lady of Anguish and the park surrounding it. Satisfied with the joint work on his project with consulting professor Klaus Brendle, an urban planner and a certified architect engineer, he said:
“Our cooperation can be described like this: live communication and online consultation in the proportion of 85% to 15%. I could ask him for an advice at any time, and would always receive a reply. The academic at the Technical University of Applied Sciences provided important recommendations, which I accommodated in my master’s thesis,” Vladyslav said.
According to the student, the main difference in the academic process at German universities is a different attitude of a lecturer toward the student.
“There was no abyss between us. They treat a student like a junior specialist or a friend. Also, there is no strict attendance control like in Ukraine — they almost never check how often you attend classes. However, lecturers are incredible motivators and their classes are very interesting.”
The scholarships paid under Erasmus+ program are enough to cover basic needs and fully cover travel and accommodation expenses. During the study, a program’s participant has the opportunity to meet students from other countries and comfortably adapt to a new environment. The Technical University of Applied Sciences offers free language courses and a free library, where a student can improve their mastery of a foreign language and use available literature for self-education.
“The language barrier may become a major problem for adaptation: in certain regions, there is a complex dialect which takes time to get used to. However, there were no organizational difficulties: they met me and showed me around,” Vladyslav Kucherenko said. “In Germany, everything is automated and self-service is very common. This is a paradise for introverts: minimum communication with humans, if it’s a problem. The most important thing is not to lose a universal key to the dormitory’s door. It is considered an emergency, and costs a bundle to restore. A dormitory German-style is a not-that-bad two-room apartment with kitchen and amenities for two tenants. I lived there with a German. We have agreed right away on the cleaning turns and the rules of accommodation.
“Taking meals at the university cafeteria is convenient. Prices for students are the lowest (the ones who have high salary pay the most – GPU). And when I got tired of eating the same fried potatoes and meat every day, I loved to cook my own meals in our kitchen. I also did not forget about sorting garbage. This is something you get used to right away, and it’s not difficult to do. You also get used equally fast to the comfort in the city. I looked at the architecture, at urban space planning principle, and noted how comfortable particular solutions are. I missed all that when I came back home, and I realized what Ukrainian problems with roads and repairs are about. It’s not about money. It’s just that in urban planning, the pedestrian must be given priority.”
This program is an excellent opportunity to deepen one’s knowledge, expand the horizon and meet new people, the graduate insists.
“Here is my advice to future participants: if you have a dream, just pursue it, and it will bring you what you want. Learn about international programs from Yuri Kondratiuk Poltava Polytechnic Institute, and make sure to take the opportunity to study abroad.”
In late December, Vladyslav Kucherenko received his deserved diploma with honor. The university is proud of its graduates, and wishes them professional success!