Angélique Perrillat-Mercerot - From Poitiers to Pavia

 

Angélique Perrillat-Mercerot has been a Phd student at the laboratory of Mathematics and Applications (LMA UMR 7348) at the University of Poitiers since 2016. Thanks to an EC2U grant, she was able to go in May 2019 on a mission to the University of Pavia to consolidate existing partnerships between the two institutions but also to explore new collaboration opportunities.

Can you remind us of the context in which your mission took place?

Since 2015, the LMA laboratory and the University Hospital of Poitiers have been working together on the processing of data from medical imaging within the team DACTIM-MIS (Data Analysis and Computations Through Imaging Modeling-Mathématiques, Imagerie, Santé).  I have been working in this team since 2016 and my research has focused on energetic substrates kinetics and on tumor growth.

On their side, since 2015, research teams of the University of Pavia have been conducting studies on tumor growth. They have opted for a model describing tumor mechanical impact and growth
With various past and present collaborations, the joint work of these teams has already proved successful. In the present case, the union of the two visions of the tumor behavior (mechanical impact for the Italian team and energetic exchanges for our team) could lead to the elaboration and  study of an innovative, relevant and promising model for the description and prediction of tumor growth.

How did your mission unfold?

First, I gave a presentation to the department of Architecture and Civil Engineering of the Pavia University. It enabled me to meet other researchers. They may be interested in a future collaboration on anatomical structures modelling.

I then attended a two-day workshop on “Recent advances in Phase-Field modeling: from Engineering to Biology” where I was able to interact with different teams, from Pavia and also from other countries. My participation helped me to better understand the possibilities arising from their approaches based on phase field models for solving interfacial problems

Have any collaboration projects come to fruition from this mission?

With the mathematics department of the Pavia university, of course! We have established models describing both mechanical and nutritic tumor behavior.  Now we will study them and compare them to real data.

We will soon have a 7 Tesla MRI in Poitiers that will enable us to get more precise data of the metabolites of interest. This way, we will be able to make substantial progress in our shared research. And we don’t intend to stop there!

Regarding the department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, both teams seem very motivated to work together, so all doors are wide open.

Any anecdote to tell us?

To go to Pavia by train, I had to catch a connection in Zurich, where apparently speaking French, Italian and English (that is, two out of the three official languages of Switzerland and the chief international language) is not enough to be guided. Everybody was answering me in German and was expecting me to make an effort…Thankfully, I managed to catch my train!

Anyway, let’s talk pizza! I’ve learned that the tomato sauce is not requisite, and that it can be easily replaced by fresh tomatoes.

 What can be, according to you, the benefits of the EC2U project?

A lot of people see Europe as a faraway concept that brings them no benefits. EC2U puts Europe within reach for citizens of medium sized cities. On the Research side, it enables to strengthen the links that are already present between the partners of the Alliance. Moreover, the cultural impact for all the participants is far from negligible.

Raquel Pinto - From Coimbra to Pavia

Raquel Pinto is a Medicine Student at the University of Coimbra. In 2018, she did her Erasmus Traineeship in Medicine in Pavia. Here is her testimony.

Hello! My name is Raquel, I am 25 years old and I did my Erasmus Traineeship in Medicine in Pavia, from September to December 2018.

Pavia is a small and easily walkable city in the north of Italy, very close to Milan, and is famous for having one of the oldest universities in Italy and because of that, the city has a lot of young people. The university itself is beautiful. The different faculties are scattered around town, but they are very close to each other, and all the buildings have courtyards where you can relax between classes. Apart from the university, the city has a lot of history and the streets are all cobblestone, which actually gives Pavia an extra charm.

For me Pavia was the perfect city for my Erasmus experience, because it allowed me not only to meet people from all over the world and learn about different cultures and traditions, but also because I got to learn and practice a lot during the 4 months I was there. I was in my last year of Medicine at the time and I did hospital rotations in Surgery, Pediatrics and Obstetrics. All the staff I encountered was very welcoming and despite not knowing Italian very well in the beginning, over time I was able to speak the language better, which helped immensely and made the whole experience even more valuable. Although I didn’t have classes at the university itself and my academic experience was solely at the hospital, the international students who were studying Medicine in earlier years seemed to enjoy the classes a lot.

I had a wonderful time in Pavia during the four months I was there, and I highly recommend the city for anyone who is looking for a small yet lively place to live their Erasmus. I made a lot of friends, had fun, travelled and gained a lot of experience that will be most certainly useful in my first years as a newly-graduated doctor.

Daniel Dumitru Badea - From Iasi to Poitiers

 

Daniel Dumitru Badea, a Master student at the Geology faculty of Iasi tells us about this Erasmus+ internship at the PALEVOPRIM Institute of Paleontology, at the University of Poitiers in 2019.

“My name is Daniel Dumitru Badea, a Master student at the Geology faculty of Iasi. I am studying Well Geology specialization, currently in the second year of studies. Last year I was able to be part of an Erasmus+ internship, during three months, from February to the end of April, at the PALEVOPRIM Institute of Paleontology, at the University of Poitiers, in France.

In my first yeras, I managed to go to Italy, more specifically to Sardinia Island, in the summer of 2016. I was also able to go there in the summer of 2017, both stages being internships. Since I like to learn things and to have experiences, in the second semester of 2016-2017 academic year, I have also visited the Azores, in the Sao Miguel Island, at the University of Azones, in Portugal, which was a part of a scholarship. For my master’s degree years. I chose France for the forth Erasmus+ experience, where I spent 3 months, for an internship in one of the most renowned paleontology Laboratories in Europe, namely PALEVOPRIM, located in Poitiers, a French town twinned with Iasi where i had a great experience due to the people who where friendly and welcoming. I met Masters and PhD students, from different countries and continents such as Ethiopia, Greece, Malaysia, Brazil, Morocco. Some where from France, who were doing internships or where studying in the same laboratory. They have all became my friends and we still keep in touch. In addition to all the laboratory activities, carried out during the internship, I had the opportunity to visit the surroundings. I went to the Valley of the Monkeys, a zoo dedicated to a multitude of species of monkeys. I have also visited a “delicious” city. I am saying this because here is the famous Museum of almonds and macarons, which is named Montmorillon. This is a town twinned with the Putna commune, from Romani. Being a geologist, I will mention that the mineral montmorillonite is named after this city.

During the internship I had the opportunity to use the most efficient microscopes and also the latest scientific information, to identify the species of micromammals, who lived in the area of the Moldovian Plateform around seven million years ago. This is something unique for a paleontological studies within Department of Geology from Iasi because the branch of paleontology was not really studied much in the past. All my work there was very well coordinated by the specialists in this domain, teachers from the university there, or researchers from the laboratory, but also by the coordinating professor from Iasi, Bogdan Gabriel Raçoi. It was a real honor to be able to collaborate with them dfor my first year of master’s degree and to accumulate the information necessary to continue my studies. I really wish to apply for a PhD in paleontology, during the PhD level. If I have the opportunity, I really want to keep collaborating with the PALEVOPRIM laboratory from France and most likely I will also apply to other Erasmus+ internship at this lab. I also wish other Geology students live such nice experiences. Some have already experienced this, such as my colleague, PhD student Bodgan Stelian Maiduc.

In conclusion, I would like to mention that every Erasmus+ experience was a life lesson for me. Not only have I managed to make many friends from all over the world but also I have learned that anything can be done as long as you really want it. I really say this as a motivation, and encouragement for all students, or future students of our University and I wish them to be able to live many experiences like this. Most important however is to learn something from each one and to be able to grow both personally and professionally, during these internships.

I wish to all students from Alexandra Ioan Cuza University from Iasi, good luck in learning, to go beyong their limits. They will be able to really get to know each other, have fun and make the most of those internships and scholarships stages of Erasmus+ promgram.”

Daniel Darles - From Poitiers to Turku

 

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Daniel Darles, I’m a PhD Student in cognitive psychology at the University of Poitiers. I’m interested in cognitive development related to the visual search for verbal information in written documents.

What is your home university and where your mission took place?

I work at the University of Poitiers and I went to the University of Turku, in Finland.

Why did you choose this particular university?

I’ve chosen this university because researchers from my team, including my PhD supervisor, were in contact with a researcher from the University of Turku. Besides, this Finnish researcher is also an expert in my field of study, so this visit was a great opportunity to improve my working method.

What was the objective of your mission?

The objective of my mission was to set up a survey among a finnish audience in order to publish a scientific paper.

How did your mission unfold?

I went very well. We started by setting up a pilot study, for which we had to precess information and work on material in order yo implement the planned experiment. I’ve also presented one of my previous work during a team meeting. I’ve met many researchers and PhD students coming from different countries (Romania, Iran). It was very nice to be in contact with them.

Unfortunately, this mission, that was supposed to last 4 months, from January to April 2020, could not be completed due to the Covid 19 crisis. I had to leave Finland sooner than expected, on the 15th of March, and couldn’t finish what I have started.

Have any collaboration projects come to fruition from this mission?

We agreed to stay in contact in order to porsue from a distance the setting up of the study and our collaboration.

Could you speak the local language? If not, was it a hindrance to communication?

I didn’t know any Finnish, but I’ve learned some words during my stag. Fortunately, Finns are almost all English-speaking, which helped me communicate with them.

Any anecdote to tell us?

During the winter months, the temperatures are very cold in Turku (-20°C). It is so cold that the Aura river that runs through the city, is totally frozen. You can see the locals ice-skating on it in the middle of the day.

What can be, according to you, the benefits of the EC2U project?

EC2U is a very interestong project as it offers mobility funding, for students and staff, that enables them to grow professionally. In my case, it made my research study abroad possible. The communication and links that have been established between the University of Poitiers and the other EC2U universities offer many benefits and could be of great interest for students who want to do part of their studies abroad or more broadly wish to build up their resume or for researchers who want to develop collaboration projects.

Nouria Martineau - From Poitiers to Salamanca

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Nouria Martineau, I am 20 years old and I am a Junior in Psychology at the University of Poitiers.

Where and when did your mobility take place?

I was at the public University of Salamanca for my second year of Bachelor degree in Psychology. I started in September 2019 and had to come home in mid-March 2020 because of Covid-19.

Why did you choose this city and this university? 

On one hand, I have always got great echoes from people who already lived in Salamanca. And on the other hand, when our Spanish teacher in last year of high school took us to Madrid, we went to Salamanca because it was not so far. When I entered in the city, I right away fell in love with it and I felt in my place. So I had no hesitation when I had to choose an Erasmus city.

How did your mobility unfold?

Even if the studies were not always easy, they went well anyway. I came out even more motivated for the rest of my studies. Indeed, the difficulties have reinforced my desire to work in Psychology.

As Salamanca is a city university that welcomes a lot of Erasmus and international students, I met people from all over the world. For example, we had classes with Mexicans, I had a very good Finnish friend.

What discoveries have you made?

I had the opportunity to visit almost all the incredible monuments in the city. Salamanca’s particularity is the huge double cathedral. On Sundays, I used to walk on its roof that gives a panorama with the river, mountains and the very far landscapes beyond the surroundings.

Salamanca is a city that has lived a lot and we learn something new about monuments every day. The shop of the former university sells books with an explanatory file for each monument.

Moreover, Erasmus Students associations organized numerous trips. We went to Las Médulas de Léon, an old gold quarry in a valley.  We also went to Toledo, the city of all religions below Madrid, where we can find different religious buildings. And we visited the forgery where swords used in The Lord of the Rings were forged.

In addition to that, Madrid is not too far and I could enjoy it.

Could you speak the local language when you arrived there?

I didn’t right away feel comfortable, but I improved myself.  We must dare to talk to people even if our Spanish is not perfect. I went to cafés and I discussed with the bartender; it has really helped me to improve my level of language. Now, I can watch Spanish series without subtitles.

What has this experience brought you?

It’s a mix of many things.  On the university side, I’ve learnt a lot; and on the personal side, I really grew up. I became more autonomous and more confident because I realized that I can do things alone, and it really helps me in everyday life.

Furthermore, meeting people from all over the world is a personal wealth because I have this sense of belonging to Europe, even to the world.

Can you tell an anecdote about your stay?

I joined the choir of the University of Salamanca that is over 70 years old. There was a good atmosphere and I met lots of Spanish people. The “Best moment ever” was singing during Christmas time. For Christmas, the choir sang in a lovely church in a little village near Salamanca. At that moment, I felt a bit Spanish and included in the life of the country.

A word to describe your mobility?

I can summarize it in one word: it is a Gift that we have to do to ourselves. I don’t have the words to express how intense it was. When I went there, I was barely of legal age but a teenager yet; but I came back as an adult with more structured projects, clearer desires, and a will to continue in what I do because it fascinates me. I realized it during my Erasmus. It also allowed me to clarify my personal values. So humanly, we get to know ourselves, we know what we want and what we don’t want in the future.

Do you have any advice for students who want to study abroad?

Go for the human adventure because it brings a lot. It is normal to be afraid but you have to dare to go and persevere. It is a year or six months that we offer to ourselves to know ourselves, to clarify our values, our desires and our projects.

What do you think of the EC2U project?

I was immediately convinced by the project and I think that it will really be beneficial. It is a mean to go to another country, to make discoveries. In addition to that, an international master degree will surely be helpful for students.

Do you want to add anything?

There are two quotes that have marked me:

« No vaciles nunca en irte lejos, mas alla de todos los mares, de todas las fronteras, de todos los paises, de todas las creencias. » (Never hesitate to go far, beyond all seas, all borders, all countries, all beliefs) ~ (Amin Maalouf)

« El final del viaje no es el destino, sino los contratiempos y recuerdos que se crean en el camino. » (The end of the journey is not the destination, but the unexpected moments and the memories that are created on the way) ~ (Penelope Riley)

Charlotte Guimaraes - From Poitiers to Coimbra

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Charlotte Guimaraes and I am currently a senior in Economic Intelligence. For my Erasmus mobility, I was at the University of Coimbra in Portugal, for my third year of Bachelor in Economy – Management. I was there from September 2019 to April 2020. I should have stayed until July but I had to come home earlier because of the Covid-19.

Why did you choose this city and this partner university? 

I already knew the language a little bit and I also have Portuguese family. In Portugal, Coimbra is the partner university so I went there.

How did your mobility unfold?

Of course, there was time to get used to the environment, but I didn’t have really big issues. Classes are given in English for Erasmus students and I already had basics in that language. Moreover, the Portuguese accent when they talk in English is understandable because they speak clearly.

In addition to that, people were really welcoming at the faculty of economy and there was a welcome moment for the Erasmus students. The ESN (Erasmus Students Network) in Coimbra is also very active. They plan three or four events in a week and a weekend trips during which we can meet a lot of people.

What discoveries have you made?

With a German friend, we visited Lisbon and the surroundings. Each time we passed by a bakery, we took something; we loved the Portuguese bread with Galao which is coffee with milk.

Could you speak the local language?

I had some basics in Portuguese, thanks to the Portuguese courses in Coimbra and those I had in France since I was a freshman in college. But sometimes, the Portuguese hardly understood me because I did not have the special intonation and accent. Anyway, many Portuguese speak French or English. So when they couldn’t understand me in Portuguese, they often switched into English or French. I also had Portuguese roommates who helped me a lot because I heard them talking in Portuguese and they corrected me when I talked. So finally, the language was not really a barrier.

What has this experience brought you?

This experience has brought me a lot on a personal level, as openness, meeting and talking with people who do not have the same way of thinking. I also have the impression of becoming more mature, autonomous and independent because I went on my own to a country whose main language is not mine. It was the first time that I took the plane alone, that I looked for my apartment on my own.

It also allowed me to significantly improve my English. And when it comes to courses, I used to be very academic, but I took a little more distance in terms of rating.

Can you tell an anecdote about your stay? 

In Coimbra, the sidewalks are paved and the hills are steep. The Faculty of Economy was on a hill so when we had to go downtown, it was a great downhill. As sidewalks are paved, I often slipped and fell.

A word to describe your mobility? 

The first one that comes to my mind is Discovery. I would also say Personal Growth. We do not really realize what we have because we are with people who have got a similar upbringing to ours. So when I was there, I was with Chinese, American, English and Spanish people, and it’s a total different way of living.

Do you have any advice for students who want to study abroad? 

I would say to let go off. If there are problems, there will always be solutions. You also need to be open-minded and sociable. You must think that you are not alone in an unfamiliar country. There are many people out there who want to get out and meet other people too. Furthermore, we must not be stopped by the language.

And to be frank, enjoy! because Erasmus is only once, maybe twice if you are lucky.

What do you think of the EC2U project? 

I find it really interesting because you can share with other people from Europe and it’s a great open-mindedness. It is not the same way of thinking and I think that it will bring a variety of expertise.

Gabriela Macari - From Iasi to Poitiers

 

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Gabriela Macari and I come from the University of Iasi in Romania. For my mobility, I went to Poitiers in France from September to December 2020. I was a sophomore in Literature and Languages, option Translation and Interpretation.

Why did you choose this city and this partner university?

For my specialty, I needed various courses and I found that in Poitiers as there was a wide choice. Moreover, it seemed a nice city to me.

How did your mobility unfold?

It went very well because in general I liked all the courses that I chose. The teachers, the staff of the faculty and the people at the international relations department were also very nice.

Apart from that, I played tennis, danced salsa, and I went to a concert. I also went out with Erasmus students and met other students at the residence.

Could you speak the local language?

Yes, I could. I started to learn French in secondary and high school. Then I chose French as my specialist language at college. I also had French courses in a center of Poitiers.

What has this experience brought you?

It has brought me a lot. When I was there, I stepped outside my comfort zone and got to know a lot of people. I did new things, like starting to learn Portuguese. So all in all, it was a very nice and interesting experience despite the sanitary restrictions.

Can you tell an anecdote about your stay?

Before classes started, I went with another student to La Rochelle. We stayed there for a night and slept on a boat; it was the first time I did that. Then, in the morning we had breakfast on the boat and visited the town. It was one of the most memorable day there.

A word to describe your mobility?

I would say that it was intense and great.

Do you have any advice for students who want to study abroad?

“Go with the flow”. You have to let go off. Don’t be afraid to do something because it allows you to be more open.

What do you think of the EC2U project?

The virtual mobility caught my attention. This aspect of the project is a good opportunity for people who cannot do physical mobility but who want anyway to learn more, to improve their language, to get in touch with people from other cultures.

Liene Hennig - From Jena to Poitiers

 

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Liene Hennig and I come from the University of Jena in Germany. For my mobility, I went to the University of Poitiers in France. I stayed there from September to December 2020 for my Bachelor degree in Economic Sciences and Litterature and Languages.

Why did you choose this city and this partner university?

Poitiers is a city whose size is approximatively the same as Jena’s, so I thought it might be nice. I also saw some pictures and found it was a beautiful city. Moreover, the courses proposed suited me.

How did your mobility unfold?

The courses went very well, even if at the beginning it was quite difficult to make a choice between all the proposed ones. However, despite the restrictions due to the sanitary crisis that reduced contacts with other students, I could fortunately meet people from different countries.

What discoveries have you made?

With some friends, we went to the downtown, to the Blossac Park to get to know more the city. I also went to the Couronneries market, a very nice French market that is held on Sundays.

Furthermore, I lived in a residence of CROUS (Centre Régional des Œuvres Universitaires et Scolaires) and my neighbors and I often cooked together. I really enjoyed the evening moments and the discussions we had in the kitchen of the residence with people from different countries like Senegal, Morocco…

Could you speak the local language?

Effectively, I had French courses in secondary school, in high school but also in college. In addition to these previous ones, a center in Poitiers offered French courses for Erasmus students.

What has this experience brought you?

It brought me a lot. I had a lot of new friendships with people from different countries and this is really good because it allowed me to know other cultures.

Also, I had courses that I enjoyed much and during which I learnt a lot of interesting things. And of course, I have improved my French level.

Can you tell an anecdote about your stay?

During the All Saints’ Day holidays, I went to the countryside where I visited a farm. It was a great experience because I lived for a few days with a very nice French family. I learnt to make a “baguette” (a French bread), goat’s milk cheese… I will never forget this beautiful experience because I really felt like experiencing French life.

A word to describe your mobility?

I would say Enriching. It brought me a lot on both personal and intellectual sides.

Do you have any advice for students who want to study abroad?

You have to let go off and enjoy; be brave to try new activities and visit places. You also need to talk to people as much as you can.

What do you think of the EC2U project?

I really like the idea of strengthening the links between the universities. It is going to be an instructive experience for everyone participating to it.

Camia Denne - From Pavia to Poitiers

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Camia DENNE, I am 21 years old and I come from the University of Pavia in Italy. For my first year of master in Economy, I made my mobility at the University of Poitiers in France from September 2020 to January 2021.

Why did you choose this city and this partner university?

It was mainly in relation to the language: I had made progress in French, so I came there. It also allowed me to be away from home and to have various experiences.

How did your mobility unfold?

Concerning the studies, it was different from what we had in Pavia: there was a lot of practices, group works and presentations.

Apart from that, I went to the cities near Poitiers such as Angoulême and La Rochelle. I also visited Poitiers during the Heritage Day, during which I saw all the buildings and edifices that are normally closed to public during the year, like the Law Courts, the Town Hall…

Could you speak the local language?

I could already speak French because I have studied it during the secondary school. In addition, my parents and my aunt speak French, so I had the opportunity to practice the language before coming to Poitiers.

What has this experience brought you?

On the university side, I learnt to do several things at the same time, in a minimum of time. I learnt to do many presentations and group works as I was not used to before. I also improved my French level by talking to French people.

On the human side, meeting many people from different countries allowed me to discover some cultures, some ways to do things, like Italian, French and Spanish ones. Moreover, I have learnt to take care of myself and become independent and autonomous.

Can you tell an anecdote about your stay?

Once, I went to the downtown with a friend. When we got home, we took a bus, but not the right one. We arrived far away, in a place I did not know. Therefore, we had to walk to go home because it was 8pm and there were no more buses.

A word to describe your mobility?

I would say “crazy”. I met many people, I did a lot of things that I have never done before. For example in Italy, I did not taste several meals; but there, I knew many types of pasta.

Do you have any advice for students who want to study abroad?

I think that studying abroad is a really useful experience, not only for the studies, but for yourself. This experience will make you a different person. You are going to grow up; you are going to know a lot of people having different lifestyles; you are going to question yourself and rely on yourself because if you have difficulties, you will have to find the solution by yourself.

What do you think of the EC2U project?

I appreciate this agreement because it will strengthen the links between universities and cities.


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