To work on new city masterplan and on the vision of Helsinki, to win international architecture competition – all in less than one year for some students might seem impossible. Architecture student of Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture Anna Kintsurashvili admits that Erasmus+ program has created unique opportunities for her.
Anna, who came to study to Lithuania from Georgia, ended up not only studying at Aalto University in Helsinki for half a year, but at the moment is also working at a Dutch architect’s Johan de Wachter’s Office.
We asked Anna some questions about choices, international experience and motivation to always learn something new.
You have studied at Aalto University (Finland) with Erasmus+ exchange program. What was the most useful of all the experience that you gained there?
During my studies at Aalto University, the City Planning Department of Helsinki was working on the new masterplan for the city and the vision of Helsinki 2050. I got the chance to attend the studio, to work with the City Planning Department of Helsinki and to develop a proposal on transformation of the existing motorway into an urban boulevard. The chance to attend lectures and workshops, to listen to the opinion of the city and being able to share students’ point of view was a great experience.
What I also found very appealing was the approach of Aalto University’s School of Arts, Design and Architecture: they do not separate different fields (such as architecture, design, civil or environmental engineering, business), but combine them, and sometimes – in one studio. Having the chance to work with people from different fields, to share experiences and knowledge was one of the most beneficial opportunities I have taken in Finland.
Why have you chosen to have your professional internship abroad? What motivated you most of all?
From my point of view architecture and urban planning are fields, which should have local approaches. Working and studying in various locations gives you a chance to see and to experience more, to find out more about the approach of that specific country. Every idea has its own locality, meaning that something which works in Finland might not work in Georgia, Lithuania or Netherlands. For me, the biggest motivation to choose professional internship in two different places was to see this difference in practice. Then, I believe, one can make clear conclusions of what she/he wants do in future and gain different types of experiences.
Do you think it is important to gain international experience during studies? Why?
I believe gaining international experience during studies is crucial. Not only you gain various professional information, but you also get to know different people, cultures. This experience makes you grow professionally and personally, which I find very important in the beginning of the career.
What projects are you working on in Netherlands now?
The first project I was working on in Netherlands with Patricia Mata was for a competition to design social housing for elderly in Haaltert, Belgium. The important aspect of the project was to respect existing surroundings, neighbours and to provide different types of outside spaces and housing for new comers. The result was quite successful as we took the first place.
The project I am working on now is to transform an old church in Apeldorrn, Nethelands into an activity/care center for people with mental disabilities.
Can you give some tips for students who wish to choose Erasmus+ studies, but still have some doubts?
I strongly believe that you should grab all the opportunities life offers, and Erasmus + is definitely one of them. Going to study or to work outside your country is a great chance to build international network, to study all kinds of new things. It is a chance to see the world from different perspective. So, why are you still doubting?