Otsi blogist

January 27, 2012

Outgoing exchange process at Aalborg University

This post is from more than a year ago - I wrote it when I was preparing to go for exchange, but I never posted it. As it is this time of the year again when people are looking for exchange opportunities for the 2012 Autumn semester, it felt appropriate to post it now... so here we go :)

This post will be in English, because then hopefully it can be helpful for more people. I’m talking about people who are thinking about going on an exchange semester from Aalborg University (AAU).

There is supposed to be a process, which you will be informed about. But... be aware – the school will not help you in any way along this process! Even though AAU has sent out many students and received also a number of students, there is not a person in this school who can actually tell you with certainty what you need to know. At least this was the case for me.

Here’s the process:
1. The student finds an appropriate university with programmes at Master’s degree level in International Marketing.
2. The student selects subjects of interest/courses that cover a full semester workload – i.e. 30 ECTS.
3. The student then seeks the approval of the courses with the 3rd semester coordinator.
4. When the student has obtained approval from the 3rd semester coordinator, the student must then apply to the Study Board for pre-approval of the courses. The application is to be forwarded to the secretary of the Study Board.

Notice that the point are clearly „student finds“ and „student selects“, which kinda also suggests that the school don’t want anything to do with this, but I was naive enough hoping to actually get some help from people who deal with these issues every day. Very silly of me...

Firstly, the student needs to find university they want to go to. There is a so called database on the schools web-page (here). In this database you have the schools name and the area of studies and the coordinator of the programme. That’s about all the information you can get from there – nothing about deadlines or programmes or even if you can go to bachelor or master studies in this school. The idea is (and this is how everybody should do it, as I was told) that you google the school yourself, then you search for the courses from the school yourself and if you see something you like you can only hope that there actually exists an agreement with that department and that programme and that there still are places available. Of course, it is easier with some countries and schools than others, but if you want to go to USA or Australia or any other „popular“ places (according to the International Office) you need to plan it far in advance, like 1 year in advance. So in my case, once I started at AAU, I should have started searching and asking around about the exchange opportunities. In the beginning of January, for example, it was already too late, all the places to the „popular“ places were gone for the autumn semester.

Finally, I chose a school in Sweden. The only financial support I was able to get from the university was for my travel expenses. No other support for me, maybe it is possible if you go through Erasmus (I went through Nordplus program) but I wouldn't know. To recieve financial support you need to apply for it also far in advance, but it is only one paper to fill. You can get this paper from the International Office (IO). You get most of the money in the beginning of your exchange semester and the rest of it once you get back to Aalborg.

Once you have found a school and told the IO about it and applied for financial support, it is time to deal with the Study Board. The Study Board needs to approve the courses and the credits beforehand, so that you can be more or less certain that once you get back from your exchange semester AAU will actually acknowledge you credits. Before that tell your study coordinator about you choice and usually it is fine if the courses are related to your studies and you can explain why you want to go there - so no problems there if you just go talk with your study coordinator in person. Now dealing with the Study Board was another hurdle for me, because the secretary was very unresponsive even after multiple reminders and e-mails I still didn't get any answer from her. Maybe it was just my bad luck! But just a suggestion - annoy them until you get what you want! I finally got my credits pre-approved months after I first contacted the Study Board.

Overall, getting everything in order for my exchange semester was a pain in the butt, but now that I am back I am very happy that I didn't give up and still went for it. My time in Sweden was awesome and definitely worth the trouble. If you are looking into exchange opportunities currently all I have to say is - Good luck!

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