Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be selected to attend the 12th ERASMUS+ Staff Training Week at the University of Malaga (UMA). The event had delegates from 32 countries and 42 universities, and I was one of three people attending from the UK. Our first day began at the university’s Recorate's Building based in the city’s beautiful Old Town. It was great to see the diverse range of attendees including staff from International Offices, Lecturers, HR, Admin teams, Communications and Deans.
The rest of the week’s events took place on their main Teatinos campus. We were very fortunate that a new subway station had just open at the campus a few weeks previously so made the journey a simple 15 minutes from the city instead of two buses and a 45 minute trip that students and staff previously had to do. Our week involved presentations from various departments at the university. Throughout the week we also had a chance to see their beautiful botanic gardens, 1.6 hectares of garden in the middle of campus, visit their sports facilities and library.
The week was kindly hosted by the UMA International Hub at the university. The hub had a variety of language students on placement who loved chatting to everyone and learning about our different cultures. A daily highlight was UMA asked delegates to bring food from their home countries to share during our coffee breaks. This was a brilliant way to meet more of the delegates and learn about their home countries. I, along with a delegate from the University of Glasgow, shared a good selection of Scottish snacks with shortbread, Tunnocks Teacakes and wafer biscuits on offer.
In addition to many presentations and tours, we were fortunate to also have a chance to enjoy some cultural activities. These included a walking tour of the Old Town, a trip to the Museo Picasso Málaga, a paella cooking lesson and flamenco workshop. It became evident I will not be having a career change to a flamenco dancer anytime soon but loved how they gave us a chance to immerse ourselves in the Spanish culture.
I felt like I got a great taster of life at the University of Malaga, commuting to work in the sunshine was an added bonus. As part of their sustainability policy they do not put on air conditioning in university buildings until 11am so the morning sessions could get quite warm.
Overall the week was fantastic, I feel very fortunate to have been chosen out of over 700 applications they received. It was a fantastic experience for me to see how they organise international events, the processes that they use as well as meeting new contacts from all over the world. Sadly, this was the final year to receive Erasmus funding for UK universities, but I urge others to try and attend exchange programmes or conferences like this where possible.