My Name is Christiane, I am from Germany and I have now spent almost five Months as an exchange student at Azerbaijan University in Baku, Azerbaijan. So far, it has been an exciting time for me. When I first arrived, I did not have any expectations, only, that this stay could probably be one of the most interesting experiences in my life.
From the beginning on I was quite overwhelmed by the hospitality of people. Everyone kept offering me help in any situation and I quickly made friends. Some of them even invited me to their families’ houses, which gave me a deeper insight into culture and cuisine. Moreover, I felt well taken care of by the international department of the university, who were supporting me in everything I did throughout the whole stay.
The lectures though were quite different to those I was used to in Germany. Class sizes are rather small, about 20 people, and mostly held in English. The lecturers were often trying to make everyone participate in the lecture and made us do presentations as well. This was a great chance for me to develop a better understanding for the way of thinking of people here and strengthen friendships with my classmates.
Azeri is the main language spoken here, but sometimes also Russian is used as Azerbaijan used to be a Soviet state. Sometimes it can be a little bit difficult to get around only with English. Therefore, I additionally I took some Russian lessons and of course, also tried to pick up as many words as possible in Azeri.
In my free time, I also managed to see some other towns in Azerbaijan. It is quite interesting to get an insight, how life is in the rural areas, far away from the metropole Baku. I was fascinated by the landscape, because you can see almost everything here: Caucasian mountains, beaches, rivers, waterfalls, forests, desert, mud volcanos and much more. Sometimes life in those areas seemed quite different from the rather western lifestyle of people in Baku, but unique and a little ancient: I saw donkeys or ducks crossing the way, shepherds guiding their sheep on the side of the road and people selling fresh fruit and vegetables everywhere.
All in all, I am glad, that I chose Azerbaijan for my semester abroad. I am grateful, for all people I met, for the experience I gained and for all the nice moments that I had here. I would recommend everyone to spend their semester here in Azerbaijan and I will be happy for everyone, who will make the same experience.