One of the goals of the European Project Semester programme is to give students training in working with interdisciplinary projects.
They chose the project because the subject was completely unrelated to their degrees, and because the semester is short.
‘It was something that we could collaborate on. We only had a few weeks to find out what we could do and could not do,’ they write in their report.
The group started from scratch. The ideas came from everyone and through the interviews. They had weekly meetings and found an approach that proved to be successful.
They received guidance along the way. Their supervisors were head of department Professor Laurence Habib and Jane Jorgensen, a researcher at the University of South Florida.
Good communication and joint decisions
The team overcame struggles and doubts together by deciding on an important rule at the start of the project: good communication.
The team made all decisions together, mainly through voting to ensure that the decision would bring something good to the team.
Working as a team helped the group to stay motivated by looking forward and finding solutions to each problem as it arose.
Learned to work properly in a group
‘Everyone learned how to work properly in a group. The voting system we established was part of that. Every opinion was listened to, and arguments were understood,’ the students write in their report.
'However, everyone can’t always agree about everything. Therefore, democratic voting helped us a lot as a group. Moreover, we learned to be freer and more open-minded and work creatively on our project.’
Improved English skills
Working in a group enhanced the students’ English skills.
‘As everyone had a different mother tongue and we were all forced to communicate only in English, we expanded our vocabulary.'
‘We also created a positive atmosphere where making mistakes and helping each other when someone said the wrong word was normal and no one was made fun of.’
Freedom to be creative and innovative
‘Normally, studying at our own universities is restricted to listening to lectures, memorising the curriculum and writing it down in the exam.’
‘The European Project Semester programme gave us more freedom to develop creative and innovative ideas without being limited by academic restrictions.’
Even though they felt insecure and had some doubts in the beginning, the group became motivated to find a useful solution together within the framework of the subject and to create something they are proud of.
Important to be good at team projects
‘How is this project useful for your education?’
‘The project gave the students training in research and team-based project work. I usually work in automation, which has nothing to do with making a manual for working from home, so this gave me new experience outside of what I normally do,’ says Noah Paessens.
Why did you choose the European Project Semester (EPS) programme?
‘In my field, engineering, we do many projects. What I am going to do is more project-based,’ says Lucas Longein.
‘Here, we had an opportunity to work directly with researchers. That can open doors to job opportunities,’ elaborates Alice Oliveira.
Oslo is different
‘I was given a list of schools I could go to. Norway was the most exciting to me. I had not been to Scandinavia before and OsloMet seemed to be a very good school. That is the reason I chose it,’ says Noah.
‘I looked at the university website, and it was completely different from Spain,’ adds Natalia Garcia.
They have travelled across Norway with trips like ‘Norway in a nutshell’.
The students think Oslo is different from other cities in Europe, with a different atmosphere. It is quiet. It does not have that many people.
‘It has been a very enriching experience,’ states Noah.
EPS gives opportunities
‘What is most exciting about the EPS programme?’
‘The opportunities it gives us, I think. We are in our twenties, and we were given the opportunity to work in another field, which we would not have had in a normal programme,’ says Alice.
‘A chance to meet students from other countries,’ continues Noah.
‘It is a totally different way of teaching than in Belgium. The way that they interact with students, more interaction in general. And we call the teachers by their first name.’
At the top of the article, you can see the students at an office workplace. From left Lucas Longein, Natalia Garcia, Noah Paessens, Annika Wittmann and Alice Oliveira.