My international exchange experience in Epitech – Interview with Mikhail

My study exchange in Epitech has been characterized by a sense of empowerment and self-driven learning. The opportunity to choose and work on projects that align with my interests and goals has allowed me to fully engage with the subject matter and pursue areas that resonate with me on a personal and professional level. The balance between independence and support at Epitech has created an environment that suits my preferred learning style, enabling me to thrive and make the most of my educational experience.”

About Mikhail

Meet Mikhail, an ambitious international student from Russia’s Higher School of Economics University. Currently in his third year of studies, Mikhail’s specialization lies in Applied Mathematics and Informatics. His chosen track is Distributed Systems, but his passion extends across a wide spectrum of Computer Science topics, including Computer Architecture, Networking, Computer Graphics, Machine Learning, and Algorithms.

Mikhail’s journey to his current pursuit of Computer Science was not straightforward. Initially enrolled in a medical university, he realized his true calling and made the bold decision to switch paths. He retook his exams, leading him to the Faculty of Computer Sciences at Higher School of Economics, where he discovered his love for the subject and affirmed his decision.

We will now explore Mikhail’s captivating experiences during his time at Epitech, where he embarks on a remarkable journey of cultural exchange and personal growth. Through his story, we will witness the transformative power of education and the boundless opportunities that unfold when one embraces new horizons.

Why Epitech was the Right Fit for Mikhail?

“From the moment I first learned about Epitech, I was captivated by its unique methodology of teaching. I firmly believe that as a student, especially in the field of Computer Science, it is crucial to be responsible and independent. It is no secret that software engineers are highly valued in the job market due to their ability to quickly learn and adapt to new and unfamiliar technologies. In this regard, Epitech’s emphasis on project-based learning resonated with me as an effective way to develop these essential skills.

The projects undertaken at Epitech not only contribute to one’s academic growth but also hold significant weight in the eyes of potential employers. Recognizing that employers often prioritize projects when assessing candidates, I understood the value of putting my best efforts into these assignments. By excelling in these projects, I knew that I would be able to enhance my CV and stand out among other job applicants.

Additionally, learning that one of the founders of Docker, a pioneering technology company, had also studied at Epitech further solidified my decision to apply. This knowledge served as an inspiring reminder that Epitech has a proven track record of nurturing talented individuals who go on to make significant contributions in the tech industry.

Driven by these factors, I made the confident choice to pursue my study exchange program at Epitech. I was drawn to the institution’s forward-thinking approach to education, its emphasis on hands-on learning, and the potential for personal and professional growth that awaited me.

As my journey at Epitech unfolds, I eagerly anticipate the challenges, discoveries, and opportunities that lie ahead. I am confident that the unique methodology and environment provided by Epitech will equip me with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the fast-paced world of Computer Science.”

Exploring the Contrasts: Comparing Education at Home University and Epitech’s Unique Learning Methodologies

“Having experienced the educational environment at my home university, I must admit that while it differs slightly from the conventional study model, it is still considerably more traditional compared to Epitech. At my university, we have fewer classes than a typical institution, but we are assigned a significant amount of homework. These homework assignments often consist of a series of tasks that may be separate or interconnected. While challenging, they follow the standard format expected in engineering universities.

In contrast, Epitech takes a more innovative approach by completely eliminating homework and traditional classes in favor of project-based learning. This unique methodology intrigued me. Instead of following a structured curriculum, Epitech students work on diverse projects that simulate real-world scenarios. This approach allows for a more hands-on and practical understanding of the subject matter.

The role of teachers at my home university, the Higher School of Economics (HSE), is notably less prominent compared to traditional educational settings. Students have significant autonomy and flexibility in their studies. The main assessments, known as “elements of control,” consist of tests or assignments that students must complete. The grading system ensures that students possess the necessary knowledge, with different levels of achievement reflecting the effort invested.

From what I have gathered about Epitech, a similar philosophy seems to be at play. Students are encouraged to explore and learn independently, with limited intervention from teachers. However, Epitech has an additional support system in place, including the APEs (Assistant Pedagogique) and coaches, who provide guidance and supervision. In contrast, my university has a similar system called “curators,” but they are fellow students, resulting in more limited assistance compared to mentors provided by teachers.

Both Epitech and my university employ a similar system of Asteks (teaching assistants) or teaching assistants, offering opportunities for high-achieving students to actively participate in the learning process while being compensated for their contributions. I find this system to be highly beneficial, as it rewards excellence and provides valuable practical experience.

The divergent approaches employed by my home university and Epitech highlight the distinct educational methodologies employed in higher education. While my university embraces a more autonomous and self-directed learning style, Epitech takes it a step further with its project-based approach and minimal teacher involvement. I am excited to immerse myself in Epitech’s unique learning environment and discover the transformative impact it will have on my education and personal growth.”

Highlights of Mikhail’s experience at Epitech (on a professional & personal level) 

“One of the most rewarding aspects of my experience at Epitech is the freedom of choice when it comes to projects. From what I have gathered, Epitech students have the opportunity to pursue various tracks and earn credits in each. While there are certain limitations for me, as I need to select subjects that align with those I would have taken at my home university this semester, I still find the level of autonomy far greater than what is typically offered in a traditional university education. The vast array of project possibilities available for me to explore as I approach graduation is truly remarkable.

Another aspect that I deeply appreciate about studying at Epitech is the design of the learning experience, particularly the emphasis on independence. I have always been accustomed to working on my own and taking responsibility for my own progress, and Epitech aligns perfectly with this approach. However, what sets Epitech apart is that while I have the freedom to work independently, I also have the assurance that support is readily available when needed. The knowledge that I can reach out and ask questions or seek guidance whenever I encounter challenges provides me with a sense of comfort and confidence.

Overall, my time at Epitech has been characterized by a sense of empowerment and self-driven learning. The opportunity to choose and work on projects that align with my interests and goals has allowed me to fully engage with the subject matter and pursue areas that resonate with me on a personal and professional level. The balance between independence and support at Epitech has created an environment that suits my preferred learning style, enabling me to thrive and make the most of my educational experience.

As I continue my journey at Epitech, I eagerly anticipate further personal and professional growth, fueled by the freedom to explore, the independence to learn, and the support to excel.”

Mikhail’s Favorite Things to do in Paris

“One of my favorite pastimes in Paris is simply strolling through the city, immersing myself in its rich history and marveling at its iconic monuments and architectural wonders. As someone who developed a fondness for history during my school years, witnessing the grandeur of landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe in person fills me with a sense of awe and excitement. The sheer number of captivating sights is truly remarkable, and even after hours of exploration, I find myself invigorated rather than tired.

Additionally, I find great joy in admiring the charming old buildings that grace the streets of Paris. Their architectural beauty is simply enchanting. The weather in Paris further enhances the experience, especially when the sky is adorned with cloudless stretches. The views of the sunset are absolutely breathtaking. What amazes me even more is the mild temperature and climate of Paris. Arriving here in December and encountering temperatures around +2 degrees Celsius was a pleasant surprise for me, having previously experienced frigid temperatures as low as -32 degrees in my hometown.

Paris offers a delightful blend of history, art, and architectural splendor. Exploring the city’s enchanting streets and gazing upon its iconic landmarks is a constant source of inspiration and joy. Whether it’s savoring the views, delving into its rich historical tapestry, or simply taking in the captivating atmosphere, Paris never fails to leave me in awe.”

Mikhail’s advice to our future international students

Drawing from his own experience, Mikhail has some valuable advice to offer future international students embarking on their journey at Epitech.

“If I were to offer advice to future international students, I would emphasize the importance of familiarizing themselves with the testing system. While I cannot speak for other European universities, I can say that it differs significantly from the system at my home university. Understanding the structure and expectations of assessments will help them navigate their studies more effectively.

Furthermore, I would encourage future international students to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by the international program. Engaging with fellow students and immersing oneself in French culture and language can greatly enhance the overall experience. Interacting with people from different backgrounds fosters cross-cultural understanding and personal growth.

In addition, I highly recommend active participation in group projects. Collaborating on group assignments presents a unique set of challenges and benefits, such as dividing tasks and assuming specific responsibilities among team members. It simulates the dynamics of working in a real company and offers invaluable insights into teamwork and project management. Moreover, it is noteworthy that these group projects often involve participants from different language backgrounds, providing an excellent opportunity for everyone to practice English (or for international students to practice French). This multicultural environment mirrors the working dynamics of global companies like Google or Facebook, where individuals from around the world come together to contribute their diverse perspectives and skills.

To future international students, I urge you to embrace the learning experience fully. Immerse yourself in the academic and cultural aspects of your journey, make the most of group projects, and seize the opportunity to connect with people from various backgrounds. By embracing these opportunities, you can enhance your knowledge, develop essential skills, and create lasting memories of your time studying abroad at Epitech.”

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