Dragos Stefan Oltean, École Nationale de l’Aviation Civile, France
Since 2016, Dragoş Ştefan Oltean has been pursuing a master’s degree in France, at the École Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC), where he applied with the support of UNIVERSALIO.
Let’s start with some details about the program you are studying at ENAC.
The program I opted for is a Master of Science, called IATOM: International Air Transport Operations Management. The two-year study curriculum begins with the consolidation and improvement of the technical knowledge you acquired in previous years, while gradually introducing new elements, that range from air transport economics to specific civil aviation operations or airport design. The courses are interactive, are taught in a professional environment and, above all, require diligence and dutifulness. Teamwork is also essential. As professors are often professionals who work for companies in the industry or for airports, the information they provide to students is always up-to-date. Examination – written or oral – is done throughout the year, which implies an intellectual effort that has to be carefully calculated and distributed.
How did you decide on France as a destination?
I can’t say I chose France specifically. My thoughts during high school were initially directed towards the United Kingdom. However, I decided to prioritize France when I better researched the hub of European aeronautics that Toulouse represents. I had my first discussions on this with a colleague from the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering in Bucharest, who was supposed to have taken this step with me. In September, unfortunately, I boarded the plane alone, because he had given up on the .
And what made you choose ENAC and the IATOM program? What alternatives were you looking at?
As early as the third year of my undergraduate program, I realized that I wanted to continue with a degree more focused on management, operations and aeronautical regulations. Since my parents also advised me to look outside Romania’s borders, and, perhaps in a way, the Romanian education system “encouraged” me to leave, I started to seek information about studying abroad. As for ENAC, I had only heard words of praise. Even though the first programs on my final list were the Air Transport Management degrees in England, of which I remember Loughborough and Cranfield, when I found out about the master’s program at ENAC, it immediately became my main option.
Let’s talk a bit about the application process. How did it go? Have there been more difficult parts, or stages that have been particularly challenging for you?
The application process was not the easiest, which is why I can say that UNIVERSALIO greatly helped me on the hard road from intention to reality. I received my IELTS diploma in one month, but it was already the end of May and the deadline for France was on June 24th. Motivation letter, CV, letters of recommendation, getting documents translated and certified – those days were frenzied. Among the difficulties, I can mention having to insist for one of my recommendation letters, while my challenges included preparing all the necessary documents, a process that was a first for me.
And how was working with your counselor, Alice? What do you feel was the contribution of UNIVERSALIO and Alice in this process?
Alice was exactly the person I needed in order to be able to apply under the pressure of that deadline. She is a true professional and she managed to get the best out of me so that, finally, one day before the deadline, I could send my best application to France. The contribution of UNIVERSALIO was certainly decisive and, even if I only had the pleasure of working with Alice, I am convinced that she completely reflects the level of quality of the services offered by this group.
Do you think there were elements of your profile or background that gave you an edge in the application process?
From past experiences, maybe the fact that I did internships in my field of study every summer, starting with my first year of undergraduate studies, was an advantage in the application process. At the same time, I think I was able to convey a rather powerful message through my motivation letter; therefore, the text had the desired effect entirely.
How’s student life at ENAC? How are the courses compared to your expectations? And how does your everyday life look like, beyond courses?
Student life is very different here from the one I had in Bucharest, because the rigor required by this study program involves allocating a significant proportion of my free time to academic activities, such as meetings with the team for some projects or additional research on topics discussed in class.
As to the courses, I can say that they meet my expectations and manage to provide me with the boost in knowledge I was looking for. Apart from all this, I am very glad to have spare time and, more importantly, to have whom to share it with.
I’ve been able to visit many fascinating places, I have even learned to cook, I do sports almost daily, and during the weekends in less busy periods, I enjoy the opportunities a city as lively as Toulouse can offer.
And, more generally, how’s life in France? Did you have any challenges adjusting to it?
Maybe the first challenge in France was the linguistic barrier. I am still working on my knowledge of French and, from this perspective, the discussions, for example with those from the health insurance company or the bank, required including innocent elements of mimic-gestural language. Eventually, all went well. Something else that could generate difficulties is that living here means often encountering people from different cultures, with habits that might appear unusual from a Romanian or European perspective. Of course, this is something that can bring benefits later, but managing certain discussions or situations may require extra effort.
Based on your experience so far, what advice or recommendations do you have for someone who is only beginning to consider applying to ENAC (or, in general, for studies abroad)?
A first aspect would be more of a word of support: I encourage any young person who is thinking about making this change to do so. I encourage them because such an experience develops you as a human being and shapes you as a professional. I have chosen to invest in myself this way with the thought that, someday, sooner or later, I will return home better, more motivated, more prepared. And, so far, I have every reason to remain optimistic.
Speaking strictly about the application process, I recommend getting information and starting the proceedings no later than 5 or 6 months before the deadline, so as not to face the cumulative time pressure of the work involved by their bachelor or baccalaureate. Take into account all possible aspects, draw an overall picture of what this change means and entails, then break it down and analyze every aspect in detail. Last but not least, do not get discouraged by any obstacle.
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