FORMER students from around the globe travelled thousands of miles to return to Wearside.
Past Sunderland University students from as far away as America came back to be taken on a tour of accommodation and university buildings and relive the lasting impressions left by its places and people.
The reunion was for members of an international exchange scheme called Erasmus, which sees students from abroad studying in England – and vice versa –for one or two semesters
The get-together was organised by former journalism student Chaled Nahar, who studied in Sunderland during the winter of 2004.
“We planned it for a couple of weeks, and asked around a dozen people if they could come,” said Chaled. “We had some more people who wanted to; one from Hong Kong, another from Germany, one from France, one from Spain. The most exciting moment was going on the Metro from the airport to Sunderland.
“To recognise all of the things that stayed the same and see things that have developed was really interesting.”
Now working as a freelance journalist in Germany and reporting on football, Chaled says sport was one of the main reasons he chose to come to England.
Maria Neumann, now a research assistant at a university in Dresden, Germany, was keen to return to Sunderland once she heard about the reunion. She said: “I was 20 years old and it was my first time living in a foreign country.
“We got in touch very easily and a kind of community developed, so we did things together and we were like a family.”
With over 100,000 former students the university is launching a new website to connect graduates, irrespective of whether they are now in Sunderland, Sheffield, Spain or Singapore.
For more about the university’s alumni services, go to www.sunderland.ac.uk/alumni.