Distance Learning Abroad: outgoing people and a lot of flexibility
Cornelia lives in Romania for professional reasons, but her work takes her to locations that range from Austria to Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova. She always has her IUBH Distance Learning coursework with her.
My name is Cornelia, I am 28 years old and have been in the MBA programme at IUBH Distance Learning for half a year. Originally I come from Austria but have been living and working in Eastern Europe for almost six years now, more precisely in Romania, Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova. And yes, the latter is indeed part of Europe. People ask me that a lot.
My love of Eastern Europe began eight years ago, when I spent six months as a volunteer in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, working for the non-profit organisation CONCORDIA in a community centre for homeless people. I returned to this very organisation six years ago when they offered me a job. The organisation supports socially disadvantaged children, adolescents, their families, young adults and elderly people who have been abandoned by their families. I now work there in the areas of volunteer management and quality management, and am involved with the further education programmes in the field of social work that we offer in our in-house Academia.
Flexibility needed – distance learning found
Since our organisation works in five countries – Bulgaria, Germany, Austria, the Republic of Moldavia and Romania – I am often on the move due to my work and therefore depend on a high degree of flexibility in my degree programme. That was also the reason why I decided to study at IUBH. The flexibility and independence to determine the pace of learning is much higher at IUBH, also in comparison to my previously completed online degree programme in health and social work management. After graduating from high school, I studied in Austria for two years to become a teacher. I enjoyed the on-campus experience but can no longer imagine starting a full-time degree programme and not being able to work. What I most appreciate about the distance learning study model is its practical relevance – the combination of theory and practice. In the Master of Business Administration, I also found exactly the course content I was looking for: I wanted to incorporate business knowledge into the field of social work. I had been lacking skills in this area so far. Step by step, I am now getting deeper insights and am trying to make the interconnections.
Studying in the waiting room
On account of my job, I do most of my studying while travelling: by bus, train, plane or car, at airports, train stations or even in waiting rooms at administrative offices. Whenever I have ten minutes – I always have lecture notes at hand for the “emergency”. This has marked a change in my life: I now have virtually no waiting times at all. In addition, work in social services has very flexible hours and working hours often involve unforeseen events. That is why I try to finish my daily studying before work. This suits me well because I have always been an early riser.
Authentic and uncensored: This is Romania
What I like most about my current place of residence in Bucharest and the other countries where I work are the people: their openness, warm-heartedness, and down to earth attitude. And I like the simplicity of my life. In my opinion, the biggest cultural difference between Austria and Romania lies in the way people interact. Everything is completely authentic, uncensored. If someone is not feeling well, he says so directly. If someone is bothered by something, he says so. Emotions also play a big role; everything is experienced and lived at a much more intensive level. In the beginning I had to get used to this straightforwardness. Meanwhile I appreciate it greatly. It makes it much easier to live together.
I simply fell in love with the country, the people and my work and can therefore imagine Eastern Europe as my permanent home. To be honest, I can imagine many countries as my ultimate home. Previously I had lived in Sweden for one and a half years and would not rule out returning there for a longer period of time. In addition, travelling is very much in keeping with my favourite hobby: learning foreign languages. At the moment I am learning my seventh foreign language, Bulgarian. Actually, there are only two things I really miss about Austria: my family and friends and drinkable tap water. And yet, I feel at home where I am right now. Moreover, I always have my coursework materials with me.