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    Martha: "The exchange of a lifetime"

    The exchange of a lifetime, what do I mean by this; where did you ever hear of an exchange being virtual it sounds absurd but it is not actually it’s the best virtual learning experience ever. It brings together lecturers and students from different countries in different time zones in to one global hub.

    The VIEL gave me an opportunity to appreciate the use in technology in modern day, incorporate the different cultures and way of life that is different from my norm. We had orientation or opening forum where we got the chance to meet and interact with the students who has the privilege of being the first to participate of the virtual international exchange and learning programme. This enabled me have an idea on what the program was all about.

    When our classes began in April 2022, I learned the use of the podcast which I had not used before this was very interesting at the end of it I acquired a new skill on how to use the podcast and I got the learn how to operate zoom and schedule a meeting /interview this made me feel great.

    The virtual international exchange learning experience involves three different countries that have very diverse backgrounds, the aspects on intercultural communication enable me appreciate the fact that use of different symbols, greeting gestures may not communicate the same way in our diverse cultures, therefore giving me the opportunity to read and understand what is common and what is uncommon in the different cultures.

    The times we had our own chitchat time was pure awesomeness and bliss: the stories, the meal challenge in a day images made us up our game in food presentation, the catching-up weekend getaway, the sharing of daily experiences made the chitchat time so warm. I love to watch video and see how the pieces of the film was put together to make it eye-catching. I got the chance to be a video-editor, I love to use certain colours and if asked why the answer was I like them, until the visualization class enabled me understand the effect of colours and how they communicate and the effects and efficiency of the graphics, shapes, images in communication.

    Classes come to and end practical have been done new skills have been acquired and friends have been made. If one has the chance to be part of the exchange go for it, learn and enjoy.

    • Steffi: „VIEL was a wonderful experience and has shaped me for the future“

      At the beginning I was not sure how much of workload the VIEL project would be. But my friend Susann strongly recommended it to me and explained that the workload will be manageable during my Masters and that I will take away additional knowledge as well as amazing international friendships. So I applied for the program and was very happy when I was told that I will be part of the program.

      In the workshops we learned how to make a podcast which was really fun and the tool we used for it, I will be also using it in the future.

      During our weekly meetings with the VIEL group we all grew closer together and enjoyed our talks about what we have been up to the past few days. This strengthened our bonds and got us even closer day by day. In our WhatsApp group we also shared our pictures from our trips or food we cooked which was always fun to see how different for example a breakfast in Kenya or Ireland is compared to Germany.

      In July we then all met face to face in Ireland where we visited the ProComm Conference which was in Limerick. The University of Limerick was amazing and the campus was huge. In the conference we also took part in very great talks and discussions, my personal favorite was about emotional intelligence (EQ) in the classroom, in writing, in teams. Personally I took away from this presentation that it is very important to think about what is important for yourself and which values play a key role in your life. If you are aware of that it is much easier to make decisions in life.

      I was so happy to finally meet everyone in real life and spend time together. Bringing together different cultures and different perspectives is the best thing one can do because everyone learns from the other.

      Overall the VIEL experience will forever stay in my heart as well as the friendships that were built, the memories that were made and the knowledge that was acquired.

      • Vicky

        I can without a doubt say that VIEL Project has been my highlight of the year and by far the best decision I made this year. I joined clueless of what to expect especially because the focus has been on Media and Communication, a field that was new to me considering that I am a Hospitality and Tourism Management student. To top it up, it was also going to be virtual, as opposed to the traditional physical exchange programs. The exchange experience has turned my life around in so many ways. It was fun and academically as well as technically enriching.
        The workshops were enriching and fun right from the start. I totally loved the practical assignments we did. My personal favorite was “My Little Easter” assignment, were we documented how we spent our easter weekend in a short video. I loved it especially because editing videos has been an area that I was for long interested in but never got the chance to learn in my field. It was for sure, a good challenge. I enjoyed watching the videos made by my fellow students.

        I always looked forward to our Wednesday zoom hangouts with my fellow exchange students. We would talk about different fun topics like culture, hobbies, boys, weddings, sports, the weather and catch up with what was happening in each other’s lives. We shared our little experiences including fears for spiders and centipedes. We also shared snapshots of what our days were like, what foods we were having etc. 

        The peak was when we met in Ireland. It was as if we had been friends for years. We spent a few days together went for walks and shared our experiences in person. We had dinner together. I got to try new foods, experience new weather and culture, and took videos and pictures while at it. At the end it felt too short, it only felt like the beginning. I had made new friends from Karlsruhe University and Limerick University. The entire experience was priceless, one for the books.

        I would definitely recommend anyone to join VIEL Project. I will tell it to my friends, my family, my future kids. I have friendships, pictures and souvenirs to show for it, that the VIEL Project was an experience of a lifetime.

        • Annie: "Project VIEL was such an unexpectedly great experience"

          When our lecturer, Yvonne, first circulated the call for students in our MA programme to join Project VIEL, I was intrigued but I didn’t apply. It sounded like an interesting opportunity but I had a lot going on in my personal life, work, and with my studies at the time. When Yvonne e-mailed again a few months later for the next session, I again convinced myself that I had too much going on so I didn’t follow up. She sent a reminder about the application deadline that I also didn’t respond to. I decided I wouldn’t apply and let the deadline pass. Not long after the deadline, she e-mailed again to say that they were still looking for students to join. It seemed to me like a sign. I decided I should at least enquire to learn a little more about it. Even though I was told the possible travel opportunity would be in July when I already had plans and wouldn’t be able to participate in any travel, I decided to join anyway for the virtual exchange experience. And I’m so glad I did!

          I had no idea what to expect going into this experience. While I’ve learned a lot throughout, it’s been quite laid-back and fun more than anything! Getting to know my fellow VIEL students Steffi, Vicky, and Martha was the best part. We had a small group, all women, which was really nice and allowed us to really relate to each other. Before long, it felt like I was chatting with friends who I’ve known for a long time. I loved hearing about what everyone got up to at the weekends or where they traveled to on their holidays. We would often send photos and videos in our shared WhatsApp group of our dinners or an activity we were doing.

          The workshops were all very interesting and lighthearted. The small assignments (like video editing and the podcast) were fun, creative, and only took a couple of hours. The podcast was a great early assignment. I got to interview Steffi and I was interviewed by Vicky. That was a really nice experience that helped me get to know them a lot better. Plus, the technical skills I gained I think are really useful in my field of technical communication and e-learning. I was grateful for these extra small assignments to practice using the software.

          While I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to travel abroad to Kenya or Germany, I was glad that, in the end, the group traveled to Ireland. The group came to Ireland in order to attend the ProComm 2022 conference that was held at the University of Limerick campus. At the conference we worked as online chat moderators for the online attendees. It was an interesting experience, and I think we all bonded over a shared sense of uncertainty about what the conference would be like. But in the end, it was fine and we all did the best we could with the chat moderation. We all got to sit in on some interesting presentations on a variety of topics related to technical communication. It was a busy couple of days!

          My favourite part of the visit was my last night before I had to go away on my own travel plans. The other VIEL students and I walked around campus and went for dinner together, just the four of us. We laughed so much and had such a great time just hanging out and talking. I was so sad to have to say goodbye after such a short visit – I wish they could have stayed longer! I’m grateful for the new friendships we’ve created and I genuinely hope to see them again in the future. Hopefully in Germany or Kenya next time!

          Project VIEL was such an unexpectedly great experience that I’d highly recommend to anyone. Even though as a Master’s student you probably think you don’t have time for it, you’ll be surprised how small of a commitment it really is, compared to the benefits, fun, and friendships you will get out of it.