Could you please introduce yourself?
-Hello, My name is Lucas. I’m a geography student from the University of Giessen, and we are studying our foreign semester of our master program at the University of Mazandaran.
-Hello my name is Alexander, in short, Alex. I’m also a student of Geography from the University of Giessen and it’s also my first semester at an overseas university.-Hello my name is Alexander, in short, Alex. I’m also a student of Geography from the University of Giessen and it’s also my first semester at an overseas university.
Are you studying here with a scholarship from your home country?
Lucas: No, we finance on our own.
What made you choose studying overseas instead of studying in your home country? Why did you choose to come to Iran to pursue your education?
Alex: Well, it is compulsory for us to do at least one semester abroad.
Lucas: yeah, but We chose Iran in particular because we didn’t know the country, and since I’ve already been in this region and I’m interested in this region I thought it would be a great idea to be here.
Alex: Dr. Mirzaee asked us if we would like to come here and we said yes.
Lucas: And Christian was the major role as well, the student who came here last year.
How long have you been in Iran?
We have been here now for 2 months and we’re staying for a further 4 and half weeks. We came in February and we’re staying till the end of May. So we’ll be here for 3 months roughly.
Was it easy to make friends in Iran?
Lucas: Very easy!! To be honest I had the feeling we could make friends everywhere just when we left the plane. It was really an amazing experience to be honest.
Do the people whom you meet here in Iran know English?
Lucas: Most people do and we communicate as we always do; in worst cases, we use our hands!!
Alex: It works. When we go shopping and we see a salesman we can talk without understanding each other’s language. They know what we mean and we know what they mean.
Which university did you get your BA from?
Lucas: We both got it from the University of Giessen.
What do you miss the most about your home country?
Lucas: Not so much to be honest!
Your family, your friends?
Alex: Of course but…
-It’s not that bad because we can call home wherever we live and it’s not bad to be away for a while. I don’t miss too much to be honest. We were talking just yesterday when we took a walk around the city. It feels like home. I don’t miss anything so far.
What has been the most academic challenge for you at UMZ?
Lucas: It’s the same work you do here and you do in Germany so it’s not that different, you have to prepare yourself for the classes so it’s not a problem. I say maybe the language barrier, that’s one thing I could improve.
What are the biggest differences you see between the university experience here and in your home country?
Lucas: I don’t see too much difference to be honest but we don’t have homework in that sense. We have to read in advance for the preparation of the class but we don’t have homework necessarily or exams. We have only one exam at the end of the semester in Germany, Instead of midterms.
What do you like the most/the least about Iran?
Alex: I like people the most. Kindhearted and friendly.
Lucas: The least probably the traffic. And we are used to different type of traffic, (laughing) like the way people observe traffic rules! But you get used to it.
What made you choose UMZ?
Lucas: Because of our connection with one of the teachers and a former Giessen University student.
Did you have any prior information about UMZ?
Lucas: Not so much.
Alex: the Field of Geography is a little bit different from the Geography field in Germany. Here, it’s separated and specific. In our university it is also kind of divided into two master degrees but you have to learn all the fields. There is human geography but we also have to learn climatology and geomorphology.
Before coming here, did you have any background information about Iran? Mazandaran? And the culture of the Iranian people?
Lucas: On my part. I wrote several papers about Iran in advance and I’ve been interested in it for a long time. Since I’ve been in Syria and around the region I started to read everything from Morocco to Indonesia. I read everything I could get my hands on to get good knowledge about the region as much as I could.
Alex: We did a few papers and searched on the internet. From some classes I had some experience about the political system. But I didn’t know the country and didn’t know that from the north to the south of it was so different.
Have you had the chance to visit the tourist attractions in Iran?
Lucas: If you talk about Isfahan or Shiraz, no but we made a trip when we arrived here with the students for 10 days, almost all over the Iran. We’ve been in Chabahar in the south east and Kish Island. We’ve seen all the landscapes and natural beauties of the country mostly. We’ve also been in Yazd ,Qeshm Island and Bam.
In your opinion, is the educational and welfare facilities provided by UMZ suitable for international students? What changes should be made to make it a better place for international students?
Lucas: Absolutely, I don’t have any different feelings about studying here. All is fine. But Maybe It would be a good idea to stablish some kind of language courses. Perhaps it would be a good idea to give future foreign students these courses.
What is your opinion about the teaching staff at UMZ?
Alex: They are competent people.
Lucas: Yeah definitely, they very strict but very fair, very demanding. And you can learn a lot from them.
Would you recommend other students to study in UMZ?
Alex: We already did!
Lucas: and we would encourage them to come to Iran and even consider different universities. Just to get the whole picture. But yeah definitely.
Thanks very much indeed. On behalf of Dr. Azizi, director of the OISC, we would like to thank you for sparing us the time for this interview and hope you will have a very good stay at the University of Mazandaran.
The above interview was conducted by OISC staff Ms. Zahra Momeni and Mr. Naweed Refah Nia