Good abroad experience.

A story by Alen Horvat;

Country of origin: Ireland; Destination country: Slovenia

My fist contact with ZNI goes back in 2008 when  I met Sonja Markic on a hitchhike trip. Sonja told me about possibilities taking part in mobility project. At that time I still had to complete my graduate thesis and I was also employed in family company. However, I saved Sonja’s contact and pin it on the wall in the flat. In the year of 2010 circumstances changed, the study has been completed and I was looking for a way how to detach from the family cradle.

My first thought led me to this piece of paper with ZNI contact, which was still pinned on the wall. I got in touch with ZNI as unemployed person. ZNI was offering Leonardo da Vinci mobility program for people on the labour market. I was always looking for an experiences abroad. ZNI was and I believe still is perfect platform for moving abroad. ZNI practice of two weeks of preparation period conducted in the ZNI’s headquarter has been proven as a novel and effective idea. During preparation period each candidate was exposed to the tasks and challenges which may be met abroad as well.

After preparation period, mobility project brought me to Ireland where I am living and working today. Decision to stay was based on a job offer I got at the end of internship. Decision to move to Ireland was not difficult for me since I was never really attached to the place and people in my home town. I can say that dream came true. I got a four year position in organic/analytical chemistry that I am interested in so much.

Mobility brought many changes in my life. It gave me life lessons that would not be achievable staying in a home country. I learned that visiting foreign country is not even close to the experience of living in foreign country. Living in foreign country is a real test to independence, flexibility, adaptability and tolerance. It is a way more difficult that one can imagine in theory. Ireland is a country with many foreigners from all around the globe. Meeting people from different social background can be fun, but can also get complicated. I have realized how important is knowing other cultures. Only when we know other cultures we can understand and accept their habits without judging. Living abroad can be heaven and can also be hell. I have experienced both. All joys, as well as frustrations are coming straight into your face. One should be aware that difficult times may come and there no place to hide, no place where you can find the shelter. I have noticed interesting fact observing group behaviour of people from different social background. People from similar social backgrounds tend to stick together. Tend to develop closer relationships. There is no exception, eastern, western, black, yellow, catholic, buddhist, and so on. For anybody social background actually presents a box within which we feel comfortable. When we are faced with a social patterns outside this box it feels frustrating and raise resistance inside of us. It may dangerously lead to self isolation. In conclusion, living abroad reveals all strengths and also all weaknesses one has. This findings are good basis for further personal evolution.

Professionally I can say I got dream job in chemistry. Currently I am working in a research university environment. In a year time when my contract expires I will have good professional basis in order to find further work in a similar field. Ireland will probably not stay my permanent base. The day will come when moving to another foreign country will take place. I am looking forward to that day. If it is going to be European country or not I do not know yet.

Definitely, mobility increases affiliation to EU citizenship. One of the most effective contributor to build up EU citizenship is easily available transportation and visa free regime. Since living abroad, I travel more frequently as I did when I was living in my home country. Destinations I have travelled last 3 years are spared all across Europe. I sincerely feel like being home in Europe. Particularly Ireland offers very diverse and regular airline connections with the rest of the Europe. It takes half a day to reach any part of Europe for a reasonable, sometime even ridiculous low price. Development of technology speeds up mobility across Europe. Internet speeds up information and knowledge transfer. But there is a limitation that does not evolve as fast as technology does. This limitation in our heads. Because of the fear from the unknown we still prefer keeping ourselves into familiar environment. As a result foreigner will always feel as a foreigner. It is not that foreign people are not well excepted by natives. Foreigners themselves create isolated cells not willing to learn social characteristics of a new environment. In order to see progress in this regard it may take some time.

I would advise mobility to everyone. Regardless to the age. Since life is never ending learning process, one can always learn something new. Living abroad brings changes in everybody’s life. Once I read this great sentence. “The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only one page”. It is very true. Since world is becoming a big village it is very important to know our neighbours. Well, it is not an easy task, but essential one in order to move modern society towards prosperous future.

However, it is much more that only social understanding of each other. There are other key issues to be addressed in world’s future perspective. Issues like environmental preservation, energy supply, and games on the political playground are rather of equal importance.

I will finish my blog at this point. I hope this little share of experience shows how one’s life may change when decide to move abroad. Appeal for future mobility participants. When exploring the world keep our eyes WIDE open.

Good luck.


(Photo description
Top left corner UCD, Dublin, Ireland
To right corner ECN, Netherlands
One in the middle Kilkee, Ireland
Bottom left corner Ballybunion, Ireland
Bottom right corner UL, Limerick, Ireland)


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