European mobility: creating an international professional network

A story by: Rachel, European projects manager of DEP Institut in Barcelona, Spain

My “mobility story” began on a personal level 10 years ago when I made the “jump” to Europe from my original hometown in Minnesota, USA.  However, on a professional level, European mobility has influenced how I work and has added value to my day-to-day work.

In January of 2010 I went to Ancona, Italy for the kick-off meeting of Career Guidelines, a Transfer of Innovation project with partners from 3 European countries.  Since that first transnational meeting I have worked on 10 different European projects, cofinanced by the Lifelong Learning Programme or the Erasmus + programme of the European Comission. Through these projects I have attended meetings and events in 22 different European cities and this exchange has allowed me to learn about different organisations, different ways of working, and getting to know cities through its residents, in addition to learning more about the specific subjects and gaining professional skills related to the projects related to education, training, guidance and mobility.

Mobility experiences have a full range of impacts, and while my experiences are overall very postitive, these experiences also present challenges and difficult moments.

  • Language barriers and misunderstandings
  • Different interpretations of professional concepts based on each country’s context  (this is a challenge, but very enriching in the end)
  • Working at a distance – distance may make the heart grow fonder, but can make getting work done together more difficult
  • Homesickness – missing your “normal”…this challenges you and helps you grow

On both a personal and professional level mobility has changed me in profound ways that is hard to put into words. I feel both more like a “citizen of the world” and more connected to my adopted country. I now speak 3 languages, but beyond that, my communications skills- making myself understood- have been reinforced. And mobility has made me more flexible and adaptable to new situations (both professional and personal).  However, in addition to changing or impacting you, an experience abroad also makes you more aware of your personal traits, attitudes and skills. It is a powerful source of self-knowledge and reflection.

For this blog entry I made a list of my European mobilities and the numbers surprised me:

  • 6 years (2010-2015)
  • 10 projects
  • 22 European cities
  • 33 different trips

What is the impact?

Priceless?   While in some ways it is “priceless” or intangible, the impact is also very evident: my own professional development, knowledge gained and shared with my organisation, an international network of colleages and partners, the results and work achieved by the projects and collaborations, etc.

I fully recommend a mobility experience to anyone, young or not so young. It is an experience that can help you grow and reflect at any point in your life both personally and profesionally.

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