This month, I interviewed a fellow exchange student, Viktoria, from Kiel, Germany. Viktoria, 22, is an art history student who attends the University of Kiel. Her favorite things include: hummus, coffee, her Macbook, her phone, and good books. She lists New York, Nice, Dublin, Italy, and St. Petersburg as some of her favorite places she has travelled. Her favorite things about Aberdeen include: the architecture, the people, who are “so helpful,” and the student societies at the university. 

Viktoria in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Viktoria chose to study in the UK to improve her English skills. The ERAMUS exchange program that’s usually available to European students did not have an art history program in the UK. As a result, Viktoria went through a scholarship program with the University of Aberdeen directly. For Viktoria, the exchange process involved a rigorous application and interview process, first at her home university, and later at Aberdeen. She competed against more than 50 candidates for the one spot as her university’s exchange nominee. Then, Viktoria had to apply separately to Aberdeen itself. From application to acceptance, the process took almost seven months. 

At Aberdeen, Viktoria is part of the canoe club. She says the club is like a “very weird family,” full of mutual trust and “really special” people. The club does weekly river trips around the area and holds practices a few times a week at the local indoor pool. Viktoria previously had no experience, but wanted to try something new while at Aberdeen. Throughout our interview, Viktoria stressed the importance of trying new things and meeting new people.

Viktoria at canoe club practice

So far, Viktoria says she “doesn’t miss home yet,” and is focused on enjoying her time traveling. She is also focused on building “the best version of [her]self.” Viktoria refers to her exchange persona as the more “chill version” of herself. Back home, Viktoria is a full time student who works multiple jobs, so she appreciates the break in routine this semester at Aberdeen provides. She enjoys the “spontaneity” and freedom that traveling brings. Viktoria believes everyone should “definitely do it [travel]” if they have the opportunity. 

As far as differences between Kiel and Aberdeen, Viktoria says people in Aberdeen are “very welcoming” and that Aberdeen has “more opportunities to connect with people.” She loves her home, but appreciates the change in pace here. The coursework is “harder” in Germany than it has been so far at Aberdeen. There are more assignments and assessments at Kiel than there are at Aberdeen, which Viktoria says takes some getting used to. Overall, Viktoria is “really enjoying” her time here at Aberdeen and is excited for what else this adventure will have in store for her. 

Viktoria at Cairngorms National Park

Next time, stay tuned for a crash course in Scottish cuisine, updates from my trip to the Isle of Skye, and more! Special thanks to Viktoria for participating in my first interview!