Promotional image Unite! experience showing a picture of two Unite! students.
Promotional image Unite! experience showing a picture of two Unite! students.
My Unite! Experience: Unite! Student Festival
Promotional image Unite! experience showing a picture of two Unite! students.
Vaëa Tesan and Saurabh Nagarkar explain their experience during the Unite! Student Festival in Lisbon in July 2023.

Picture of Vaëa and Saurabh

Vaëa Tesan, a PhD student at Grenoble Institut Neurosciences, specializes in Artificial Intelligence applied to Health, focusing on diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injury. As a SURE! Student representative in the Unite! Alliance, Vaëa acts as a bridge between their Grenoble university community and the diverse Unite! network. On the other hand, Saurabh Nagarkar, an AI master's student from India, shares his transformative experience in Barcelona. Engaging with Unite! has broadened his horizons, emphasizing the value of global connections and diverse perspectives in his educational journey. 


What Unite! initiative were you involved in? 

Saurabh: We had the privilege of being invited to the inaugural Unite! Student Festival held in Lisbon over the course of three days. Which was a really fun and learning experience
Vaëa: One of our missions as SURE! Member was to coordinate and provide support to various teams during the Unite! Student Festival in Lisbon in July 2023. The event was meant to bring together students from the alliance's nine partner universities and make Unite! students feel that they are part of the same larger community. 
It was like a big celebration of everyone's talents and cool ideas, and it reminded me how important it is to make sure our voices are heard in the Unite! community. 

Did you learn anything new? 

Saurabh: Certainly, we gained valuable insights from our interactions with the diverse group of attendees. We had the opportunity to learn about various cultural aspects, including cuisine and attire. Perhaps most importantly, we delved into their university experiences, gaining insights into how students from different parts of Europe are navigating their academic lives. This unique learning experience was made possible by the presence of nearly 200 students representing various universities across Europe. Additionally, I continuously captured videos throughout the entirety of the festival, to create a comprehensive compilation for my YouTube channel (see the video below). 
Vaëa: Absolutely! Every day was a learning experience. The festival provided me with an amazing opportunity to interact with students from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and disciplines. It broadened my horizons even more and helped me develop a deeper understanding of global perspectives in higher education and research. 

How is it different from a “normal” university experience? 

Saurabh: As previously mentioned, the primary objective of the Student Festival was to facilitate connections among students from diverse universities, encouraging them to share their personal experiences. Consequently, we had the chance to meet individuals pursuing a wide range of academic disciplines and understand their approaches to university life. 
Vaëa: The difference to me lies in the multiculturalism that Unite! holds. In a "normal" university experience, you typically interact with students from your own university or country. However, with Unite! you have the chance to talk with people from different European universities! This diversity of perspectives, languages, and cultures really enriches the overall experience. 

From your point of view, what is the advantage of working or studying at a Unite! university? 

Saurabh: The most significant advantage lies in becoming part of an extensive network comprising students and faculty members spanning across different European regions. This network can prove immensely beneficial when seeking support for research endeavors from a university standpoint or participating in mobility programs
Vaëa: Studying or working at a Unite! University is like opening a door to a world of amazing opportunities. You get to connect with students and academics from all over Europe, which allows you to learn so much from different cultures and backgrounds. Unite! is all about combining different courses and ideas, which I think makes you a better student all around. There are also great exchange programs and chances to travel abroad that can really help you learn more about the world and get ready for a future where you can thrive in a global setting. It's not just about working or learning; it's about the whole process of becoming a global citizen! 

What were the best aspects of this experience? 

Saurabh: The most remarkable aspect was the opportunity to articulate our thoughts and visions regarding the development of a future university that could benefit both faculty and students alike. The presentation we delivered during the event provided us with a broader canvas to begin working on improvements that we, as students, believe are essential. 
Vaëa: One highlight was the opportunity to work with all the other SURE! members in a whole new way. Since Unite! had never organized a student festival before, everything we did felt fresh and exciting. It was a great experience for us as we discovered this new adventure together. Also, taking a guided tour of Lisbon with local students gave the festival an extra depth. I was able to understand the city's culture and way of life on a deeper level after seeing it through their eyes. It really enhanced the experience and gave me priceless memories that I will always cherish.