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European and International Cities Virtual Student Exchange

From 1 March to 31 May 2021 NTU Global ran an innovative and exciting virtual student exchange providing an opportunity for our students to work on a virtual project with students from around the world. The initiative allowed students to make meaningful connections, learn about new cultures, and experience inter-cultural collaboration from the safety of their own country during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Newton foyer decorated with international flags

More about the programme

194 successful students from NTU and six of our European and International partner universities participated in the cross-cultural virtual exchange. Students were matched into one of 46 groups of 3-5 based on the information provided in their application form. During the exchange, students had the opportunity to find out more about their partners’ cultures, lifestyles, interests, aspirations, and the community they live in and work on a project together based around the theme of ‘The Covid Effect’.

Students had the flexibility to schedule both their meeting times and dates and the platform used to host them. NTU Global provided them with a meeting schedule so that they had discussion points and could prepare presentations, photos, videos or weblinks in advance. In addition, each group was allocated a mentor from NTU Global to support them during the period of exchange.

I really liked the way we were communicating, the fact that we could be open on any subject. It was very interesting to find out a little bit about each one. Being from different cultures, there was always something new to find out. I think we have to learn from each other, and although we were very far from each other, we created a beautiful friendship. It was a beautiful experience.

Ionela-Madalina City, West University Timisoara

Universities

Who was involved?

6 of our partner universities took part in the exchange and were all very keen to share the opportunity with their students:

  • West University Timisoara, Romania
  • CETYS University, Mexico
  • Kuban State University, Russia
  • Utah State University, USA
  • Ryerson University, Canada
  • Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, Germany
In some ways, the expectations I had at the beginning were true because there were certain cultural differences, but not as many as I expected. We were a lot more alike than I initially thought and we had a lot in common, which was nice. It was a pleasure to be a part of this student exchange, it was very entertaining and fun. It was nice to talk to people that are on the same wave-length with you and I feel like we were all a perfect match.

Delia Lovin, West University Timisoara

Exchange activities

See below for examples of the types of activities students got involved in before, during, and after the exchange

Pre-exchange activities

  • We offered all participating students the opportunity to attend an interactive Cross-Cultural Communication Workshop run by the Global Lounge.
  • Students were asked to note down their thoughts on the exchange – their expectations, hopes and any cultural stereotypes they might have about the students they’d been matched with.
  • NTU students were given a virtual training session as ‘group leads’ and we offered a range of ideas for questions and icebreaker games that they could use in their meetings.

Exchange activities

  • Introduction - Getting to know you and sharing our lives
  • Sharing - Our favourite things
  • Cultural Exchange - My Culture and yours
  • The project – ‘The Covid Effect’ – students were asked to consider the following themes:
    • Do you think the pandemic has resulted in any positives and/or long-lasting changes in your community?
    • Has there been a Green Impact in your community as a result of the pandemic?
    • Online Communities – Can you create a sense of community and bring people together as a team whilst only communicating virtually?
    • Has the pandemic changed the mindset of Employers?
    • How has the media coverage of the pandemic in your country / community shaped your understanding, views and perception of it?

Post-exchange activities

  • Students were asked to complete an individual feedback report which included notes and comments after each meeting and reflected on the exchange.
  • Students also reflected on how the cultural stereotypes they had prior to the exchange changed after they interacted with the students they’d been matched with.
  • Upon receipt of the individual feedback report and the group projects, students received a certificate of participation.
The most interesting part of the exchange was actually discovering how much we have in common, even though we are all from different backgrounds and have had different experiences.

Jane Bannister, NTU

Outcomes

We knew that students would be very disappointed that due to Covid-19 restrictions they would be unable to have the opportunity to be part of the life-changing experiences that come from in-person mobility opportunities so NTU Global was delighted to be able to still offer students a chance to have these opportunities virtually and we were overwhelmed by the positive feedback we received from the students who took part.

Following the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the students who took part, we are already planning new virtual exchanges for the 2021/22 academic year.

View previous projects

For more information on this virtual exchange and our plans for 2021/22 please email faye.martin@ntu.ac.uk

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