ERASMUS+ Staff Mobility, University of Bologna, Rimini Campus

From 01-05 April 2019, Dr Tamagnini and Dr Widera from the Reading School of Pharmacy spent a week at the beautiful Rimini campus of the University of Bologna (Italy) to deliver seminars and lectures on Neuroscience and Cell biology to Pharmacy undergraduate and PhD students at the Rimini campus.

Rimini, Bridge of Tiberius.

Founded in 268 BC and located at the Adriatic coast of the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, Rimini is mostly known for its stunning golden beaches, impressive historic architecture and excellent food: above all, its luscious selection of seafood, prepared with love and mastery, and the flat bread known as piadina (almost a holy institution for the locals – aka: romagnoli –, including Dr Tamagnini).

Statue of Pope Paul V on Cavour square

Local seafood in Rimini

Amongst historical buildings, breath-taking landscapes and divine food, the Rimini campus of the University of Bologna unravels its teaching and research offer. The University of Bologna, the oldest university in the Western world and founded in 1088, is the number one in European rankings for ERASMUS+ mobility. UoB currently hosts over 85,000 students, ~6000 of which are enrolled at the Rimini campus where 19 degree courses are offered, including the single cycle degree (combined BSc and MSc degree) in Pharmacy.

The Reading School of Pharmacy – University of Bologna ERASMUS+ student exchange programme has been first established by the Study Abroad coordinators Prof Vincenza Andrisano (Bologna) and Dr Darius Widera (Reading) in the Academic Year 2017/18 and extended to cover staff exchange in 2018/19. Since then, both Schools have initiated an even closer collaboration and are currently co-developing a dual degree PhD programme.

Dr Widera delivering a lecture to Part 4 Pharmacy students

During the visit, Drs Tamagnini and Widera delivered a series of lectures for Rimini-based students of Pharmacy at different stages of progression, had small group discussions wih PhD students and academics and discussed future opportunities resulting from the exchage programme and the formal collaboration between the two Schools. In addition to teaching and administration-related activities, the ERASMUS+ staff mobility included visiting the facilities at the Rimini campus and last but not least enjoying the history of Rimini, the seaside and fantastic local food.

Dr Widera`s teaching sessions tailored for Part 2, 3 and 4 students were focused on the impact of inflammation on neurodegenative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease whereas Dr Tamagini delivered sessions on the electrophysiological aspects of memory, Alzheimer`s disease and dementia.

Dr Tamagnini teaching Part 2 students the impact of neurophysiology in memory and dementia.

In conclusion, the week at the Rimini campus was a great opportunity to teach `out of the personal comfort zone` in an international environment and to interact with international students and colleagues abroad. Thus, the ERASMUS+ staff mobility programme represents a unique chance for both professional and personal development in an international context.

From left to right: Dr Tamagnini (UoR), Dr Widera (UoR), Prof Vincenza Andrisano (Study Abroad Coordinator, Pharmacy, University of Bologna, Rimini Campus), Prof Giorgio Aicardi (lead of the Physiology module, UoB, Rimini Campus).

Adventures with Erasmus+

      I honestly don’t think I would have had even half of the experience that I had if it wasn’t for the funding that I got from Erasmus +. To be completely honest I don’t know that I would have been able to afford to go at all. The Erasmus+ funding was such a huge part of my experience of studying in Venice, because of the money it meant I felt comfortable enough to go to social outings and meet new people and not worry about spending a bit of money while I was there, I was able to afford Italian lessons that helped me improve and feel comfortable in my surroundings.

The money meant I could travel throughout Italy, during my time there I was able to travel to Sicily, Naples and the Amalfi coast, Lake Garda, Verona, San Marino, Milan, Florence, Trento and the money even meant I could afford to go skiing in La Folgaria with a big group of people from around the world. I’ll never forget any of the adventures that I had or the people that I met while I was studying abroad it truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity and the Erasmus+ funding made all of it possible. As a bonus the Erasmus+ funding even contributed to the fact that I now have a graduate job for when I finish my final year of university as I was able to afford several flights to go back and forth to interviews (one of which led to an internship that led to a graduate job!)

A Visit to Tübingen

In June Wendy Smith and I spent three days in Tübingen as part of the Staff Mobility programme run by Marcus Dowse of the Study Abroad Office. We had made contact with relevant staff at the Vivat Lingua! language school a couple of months earlier and had found them both helpful and welcoming. This continued when we met, and we were able to spend time with various tutors and the head of the school, and to observe classes at a variety of levels. On occasion we were allowed to join in! We were impressed by the teaching and by the friendly and welcoming atmosphere. We also looked in detail into the possibility of courses for students studying German with IWLP in Reading; the Vivat Lingua! language school offers 3-week courses throughout the year for students studying German as a foreign language, with about 20 hours of language tuition per week in the mornings. There are some outings organised in the afternoons, and students are also free to explore the lovely old town of Tübingen and the surrounding area.

Tübingen is in southwest Germany and is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities. Wendy and I enjoyed wandering through the large pedestrian centre with its maze of old streets full of beautiful old wooden-beamed houses, some displaying old paintings or ornate wrought-iron signs. The weather was hot so we were grateful for the Eiscafés! We walked up to the castle with its wonderful views, where there is a museum of ancient culture, and took the bus to the lovely medieval abbey of Bebenhausen.

We now feel confident in recommending the courses at Vivat Lingua! to our IWLP students and are sure that they would benefit academically and have a very enjoyable stay.

Alison Fenner

German, English and Russian Co-ordinator

Institution Wide Language Programme

Erasmus+ Staff Training Week at Tampere University of Applied Sciences (Finland)

My hosts at Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) definitely rolled out the welcome mat during their Erasmus+ staff training week on the topic of “The Secret of Innovative Partnerships”! Colleagues from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Palestinian Territories, Slovenia, Spain and the UK came together with our Finnish hosts for three days of activities from 11 – 14 March.

After an introduction to higher education in Finland, including touching on the recent partial merger of TAMK with the University of Tampere, we were given a tour of the campus buildings. Thankfully we did not need to head outside during the tour, for as can be seen there was snow and ice accompanied by a temperature 10 Celsius lower than that I’d left in Reading! It was hence a relief not to have to wrap up and head outdoors! The tour included the Library (home of many origami birds made by TAMK students and staff), student Service Street (home of the Erasmus+ student and staff exchange offices), and the cafeteria. It was also interesting to see some students working on 3D printing projects, including getting the chance to sit on a 3D printed chair they had made (no, I didn’t break it…).

In the afternoon, we split up into two workshop streams. I had decided to join the Research, Development & Innovation stream, mainly as an opportunity to learn about an area of international partnerships I did not know much about beforehand. The first session focused on our institutions’ general research themes and areas of interest, with the second and third sessions over the following two days looking at turning project ideas into viable working projects and boosting our international networks. Building on the latter, if you are not connected with me on LinkedIn already, you are more than welcome to via https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisbonham11/! I had been slightly nervous that coming from a non-research focused role at Reading that I would not be able to get much from the workshops. However, I was proven wrong with the help of the workshop leaders and other participants, and definitely hope to build more support of research focused mobility into my role going forward.

The programme put together by TAMK colleagues also included a discussion of the use of social media in our marketing activities, and an introduction to the Y-campus, an incubator for student-led enterprises. In the social media discussion, it was especially interesting to learn about social media platforms not much used in the UK. These included Jodel, which allows users to post public messages anonymously to other users in their local area, and VKontakte, the most popular social network in Russia and hence used by TAMK colleagues to promote their programmes to prospective students from there.

All in all, my few days in Tampere were great. If you would like information about how you can participate in an Erasmus+ staff mobility, please drop by the Erasmus & Study Abroad Office (Edith Morley 203) or email studyabroad@reading.ac.uk.

Erasmus+ Staff Training week at Aarhus University (Denmark)

Having encouraged 100’s of UoR members of staff to participate on the Erasmus+ staff mobility programme over the years I realised that I had never properly participated myself.

So when Aarhus University (AU) emailed to highlight their Staff Week, with a very short application deadline, I speculatively applied. There was a lingering doubt as to the relevance for an ‘old timer’ like me, but when informed of my selection almost immediately there was no easy way to back out (thankfully!). Did I really have the time to take a week away from work? Not really, but too late…

Was it worth it? Absolutely – 100%.

The 4 day programme consisted of some fantastic sessions run by AU colleagues & external speakers covering a wide range of mobility and internationalisation topics. These included the ‘staples’ of any Erasmus / Study Abroad office e.g. Orientation & Welcome programmes (analysis / innovation); Study Abroad Promotion, pre-departure & re-entry activities etc. There were intriguing sessions about Danish Education and the plethora of ongoing national educational reforms, AU’s ongoing internationalisation plans, institutional priorities and ambitions. There were Faculty lead introductions, campus tours and sharing of detailed local-level information and insights. All very useful and thought provoking. However it was the non-standard content that was truly engaging, including:

– an informative session about Behavioural Design, provoking a lot of group discussion as to its relevance to and appropriateness for Study Abroad activities;

– the HR Director of LEGO – preaching to the converted – noting that Study Abroad demonstrates curiosity, which is the main attribute LEGO looks for in its recruitment of new staff. Study Abroad = International Mindset = Open Mindset = Curiosity. It’s nice to feel validated.

The highlight (for me at least) however was a very passionate talk by an Aarhusian (?) who had set up the Warm Welcome Society – a citizen led initiative to welcome all new arrivals to Aarhus – Danes, students, workers, immigrants etc. He explained the rationale, the history and its development, and how citizens had worked outside of and recently with the municipality in helping to try to make Aarhus one of the most ‘stranger’ friendly cities in Europe. Best described as GIVEISM, there was now an established network in place to help make all new arrivals welcomed in Aarhus and giving them the opportunity to truly be part of their local communities. I think he polarised opinions, but I loved his view that we need to THINK BIG to make any meaningful change! Relevance to Study Abroad? Loads – so many ideas to plunder, but it generated and inspired tangents that will hopefully help ESAO further develop our activities.

On top of the formal sessions there was plenty of networking and discussions with the 28 other participants from all over Europe, the USA, Peru, China and Japan. Each had their own stories, expertise, experience and opinions – I learnt something from everyone, in different ways.

In conclusion, I would massively encourage anyone who is eligible and interested to participate on an Erasmus+ staff mobility week, if you have the opportunity (look at IMotion Erasmus Staff week to see if there is something that interests you!). If the advertised content appears relevant, and you are willing to get involved, then there could be a wonderful learning opportunity awaiting!

Contact us in the Erasmus & Study Abroad Office ESAO (studyabroad@reading.ac.uk ) if you would like any further info about Erasmus+ Staff Mobility.

 

Marcus Dowse

Erasmus & Study Abroad Manager

Erasmus+ Staff Mobility: Dr Dan Jones (Groningen)

Erasmus+ Staff mobility

The Erasmus & Study Abroad Office also facilitates and administers opportunities for staff at Reading via the Erasmus+ programme. Read about Dr Dan Jones’ Erasmus+ Staff Mobility experience at the University of Groningen – Internationalization at Home (April 2018)

In April 2018, I attended the University of Groningen Erasmus+ Staff Week on the theme ‘Internationalisation at Home’. My motivation for attending the event was driven by my role as International Tutor in the School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences. Having recently taken on the position I felt that there was room in the School to make improvements to the experience of our international cohort. Having heard about the staff exchange opportunities that the Erasmus& Study Abroad office fund, I was keen to make the most of them.
The week was extremely informative, learning from academics, professional staff, and even students, about the value and benefits of the international experience at the University of Groningen. Themes included, language and culture policy, intercultural competency, the international classroom and how to engage students and staff in the advantages that internationalisation and diversity can bring to higher education – a particular focus was on how internationalisation can benefit both home and international students.

By sharing effective, evidence-based practice, this staff week was invaluable, providing a new perspective and insight into this area. The week was beneficial not only for my own CPD, but, by contributing to the formation of my role as International Tutor, is likely to benefit PCLS as well. On the back of this Staff Week I have successfully secured an internal T&L grant to run and deliver a project to assess and develop the international experience in PCLS, from both a student and staff perspective – the knowledge acquired during this event, in my opinion, has created a much stronger project and maximised the impact that it can potentially have on practice in the School.

I thank the Erasmus+ Programme for the funding that enabled me the opportunity to visit the University of Groningen for this Staff Week – I cannot recommend these events enough. I am already looking forward to my next Erasmus+ Staff Week and what further developments it can bring to my own CPD, as well as benefit to the University.

Dr Dan Jones is a Lecturer, International Tutor and Erasmus+ & Study Abroad Coordinator in the School of Psychology & Clinical Languages (http://www.reading.ac.uk/Psychology/About/staff/d-jones6.aspx ).

For more information about Erasmus+ Staff Mobility please visit: www.reading.ac.uk/erasmus or contact studyabroad@reading.ac.uk