EELISA Mobility is about going beyond borders and diving into excellent educational programmes. But overall, it is about intercultural exchange and experience. In this interview, we meet the story of Tim, an FAU student who decided to open his mind and travel to Pisa to participate in SSSA’s Seasonal School about “Innovation management and common good”. A story about immersive learning, prominent lectures, ice cream, and great cafés
Q. To begin with, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
A. Hi, my name is Tim. I am 25 years old and I am doing my Masters in Computer Science at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg. I am almost done with my studies as I am currently working on my master’s thesis. Generally, I am very interested in data science and AI.
Q. How did you find out about the seasonal school sponsoring that EELISA offers?
A. I found out about it through the FAU e-mail announcement and then decided to apply.
Q. What was your motivation to participate in the seasonal school?
A. Data science is very much connected to business administration and sometimes to innovation. Because of that, a seasonal school regarding innovation management and common good presented a good opportunity for me to learn more about this area. Apart from that, I thought it would be a great idea to participate in a seasonal school as it is almost like a ‘small semester abroad’. And especially because I was not able to visit other countries in the past two years due to the pandemic, I was super happy to get the opportunity to be in Italy for a week.
Q. What did your daily life look like in Pisa? Did you experience any cultural differences compared to Germany?
A. The hotel we stayed at was right next to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which was pretty cool. There is almost no better place to stay at. We arrived on Sunday night and school started on Monday morning, so we spent most of our time at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (SSSA). Lectures took place from 9 am to 6 pm, but we did have several breaks. We could eat lunch at the canteen; however, I preferred to just spend some extra money on enjoying the good, local Italian food outside of the university. There was a beautiful park nearby, with a fountain, an ice cream shop, a pizza bakery, and great cafés. The other students and I mostly spend our free time there. You could really feel the importance of food in Italy.
Q. How did you learn about innovation management and common good at SSSA?
A. We had one main professor from SSSA, but many guest talks and lectures from different entrepreneurs and firms. We started with lectures about the common good and sustainability, and also had a small group project on our second day, where we nine participants were able to work in groups of three. Apart from that, we had a talk from Enel, the biggest energy firm in Italy, and from a smaller company Loccioni, to directly present the differences in using innovation management in two very different contexts. Moreover, we had guest lectures by several start-ups at the end of the week. This then helped us with our final group project, which was our ‚final exam‘. We had four hours to come up with a pitch deck to get funding for our own sustainable start-up or research idea.
Q. In which way did studying at SSSA differ from your student experience at FAU?
A. I think that this seasonal school was way more practically oriented than the usual lectures you have at FAU. However, you did not get the chance to repeat certain topics which might have been unclear. But that is because we only had a week, and we wanted to enjoy our time after school. A course at home, which generally takes place over the time span of three months, of course, gives more time to reevaluate things you have learned.
Q. How do you think you can apply knowledge gained at the seasonal school for your life back home?
A. It will definitely help me in my future workplace. Before, I almost felt like innovation management is a hoax, but the talks we had really showed how companies use innovation and why it is important that more firms focus on it. Besides, the importance of sustainability once again became prevalent. It will help me to keep a sustainable and social mindset with whatever work I will do in the future.
Q. What was your most impressive experience? What was most difficult for you?
A. I really didn’t have any difficulties. Overall, the exchange as a whole was a great experience for me. The seasonal school lectures were very interesting and on top of that, I got to meet very nice new people.
Q. What are your main takeaways from this exchange?
A. I think my main takeaway was that I should have done a seasonal school way earlier. Gaining international experience really helps and I would have never been able to have such a great experience with an online course of some sort. I think it is pretty amazing that FAU and EELISA offer the opportunity of seasonal schools to their students.
Q. Would you recommend other students to participate in upcoming seasonal schools?
A. Definitely! But I feel like it makes sense to have some prior basic knowledge in your field of studies to fully understand the importance of the lecture contents.
Q. If your friend would join a seasonal school in Pisa next week, what would you recommend to him/her?
A. Enjoy the great coffee in those typical Italian cafés and don’t eat at restaurants right next to the Leaning Tower, because they are expensive and not always good, haha ;-).