I recently travelled to Vilnius, Lithuania, after my successful application for Erasmus Staff Training Mobility funding. This is funding from the EU (via UCL) for support and adminstration staff to visit another European university and compare working practices, swap ideas, make new contacts etc. I was really excited about my visit as I had never been to Lithuania before and really looked forward to learning more about the country.
My visit lasted 1 week – it was a planned programme of activities arranged by Vilnius University and the amazing Erasmus coordinator there, Milda. This included:
- presentations from visitors on their institution
- tours of the campus and the city
- a Lithuanian language lesson
- visits to Vilnius University departments of our choice
- dinner and Lithuanian beer-tasting with our hosts
It was a really good mix of cultural activities and discussions/meetings which is why I was initially attracted to this programme. The organisation of the week was excellent and it certainly gave me confidence with speaking in public!
I was part of a group of other visitors from all over Europe including Spain, Romania, Greece, Germany and Italy. We all got on so well and it was really interesting to learn about what is happening in other European universities and countries – the Greek perspective was particularly fascinating! It was a great opportunity to make new contacts and swap stories and I have even made a few new friends out of it. I am now planning a trip to visit one of them in Gran Canaria!
My visit was really beneficial, especially in ways I wasn’t expecting: it has given me more confidence with voicing my opinion and making new contacts; I really felt more of a ‘European citizen’ and – cheesy as it sounds! – like I was representing my university. It has definitely given me a fresh perspective on my role and how it relates to the wider world. I would encourage others to apply and see where it takes you…