brovnik is a university city. International students from all over the world flock to the city and the Libertas International University in the heart of the historic Old City of Dubrovnik is certainly a popular destination. We caught up with Florian Schacht, a student from Hamburg, Germany, who is currently studying a semester at Libertas to discover his experiences. Schacht has studied all over the world, from New York to Amsterdam, and is currently in the fourth year at a university in Hamburg. “All of my university studies have been in English, even in Hamburg, so having the chance to study in English in Dubrovnik was just too attractive of a chance to miss,” adds Schacht.
Why did you decide to study a semester at Libertas University in Dubrovnik?
I have a little background in Dubrovnik. I did an internship as a radio presenter in Dubrovnik and I was not only a get experience but also opened my eyes to the beauty of the city. Also my brother is currently studying in Libertas, in fact he has been here since he was 17 years-old. As I have studied all over the world it seemed like an opportunity to spend some time with him. He also filled me in on the work at the university and made it look even more interesting. Libertas also gave me the opportunity to study and explore international relations and international organisations, even though I have to take course that are more business orientated because of my major in Hamburg. So I am studying international organisations, international business, methods of social research and negotiating and contract resolution at Libertas.
It must be a unique feeling to actually study in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. What’s it like being a student in a such a historic city?
Every morning when I enter into the university I am actually entering into a medieval monastery, that is certainly a unique feeling. I have been told by one professor that the rooms in which we study we originally used by monks for reading and storing books, it was one of the oldest pubic libraries in Europe, so I think that the classrooms are a great place for education. After class you can go to the beach, between classes you can have a coffee on the Stradun and basically after every day we all go for a drink in a bar in the Old City.
You have relatively small classes at the university, does that help with communication with professors?
I have had the opportunity to take classes with all the generations, from the first year to the third year, and in every class there have been around 15 students, so even smaller classes than the private university in Hamburg. Of course all of the classes are in English and the students are an international mix.
You have studied in various cities, from New York to Amsterdam, so how would you compare student life in Dubrovnik to all of these other world destinations?
Yes, Dubrovnik is of course much smaller than all of these other cities I have studied in. However, it is a great place because it is quieter and even though there are less things to do it’s great because you can experience a different kind of culture. It just seems calmer and more relaxed. Here you take your time for coffee and to actually communicate with people, so for me it is a great escape from these faster paced cities.
It is challenging to study in such a well-known tourist destination? And what other problems have you had studying here?
Of course Dubrovnik changes through the seasons. In the spring it is easy to get around and find accommodation, but as the summer approaches the city gets busy and the housing for students can be challenging. I know that from talking to the American students who are studying in Libertas that their accommodation is included in the package. There is of course some paperwork that needs to be sorted out but the university can help students with that. As far as actually studying here I have all the tools I need, and not only all the information but also the time to put them to use. I have found that the professors not only have a background in education but also in work or life experience. This makes their educational package more interesting and more open-minded. In fact, I would say that I have a close relationship with my professors, having small classes helps but also the professors are always open to help.
You are a foreign student in a country where you don’t speak the language. Of course Libertas International University teaches exclusively in English but how have you coped with other aspects of life outside of the classroom?
Look Dubrovnik is an international city. I am quite used to living in a country where neither English or German is a first language, for example in Amsterdam. As Dubrovnik is a tourist destination pretty much everyone speaks English to a relatively high level. Living in Dubrovnik, especially, without actually having any knowledge of Croatian would not be too much of a problem.
Would you recommend the Libertas International University to other foreign students who are thinking of studying abroad?
Yes. Their professors have great experience, all with a great background and great knowledge. What gives them added value is that they have worked outside of education, they have an interesting background.
What memories will you take with you after the experience of studying and living in Dubrovnik?
I think I have learned to take my time, to sit down for a moment and take the time for myself and to also make time for friends and family, rather than just to focus on a career. Dubrovnik has taught me that finding a balance between work and private life is essential.
Text and Photos - Mark Thomas