Experience 7 – “It allowed me to combine my dual interests of teaching and travel.”
Posted: 23 June, 2017
My initial interest in Erasmus teaching opportunities stemmed from having previously worked in the USA, Australia and Germany. When I began lecturing in Waterford Institute of Technology, in the South-East of Ireland I always had large numbers of Erasmus students join my Marketing classes. We have a strong tradition of attracting international students, particularly from Spain, Germany and France.
There are learning and cultural benefits to the Erasmus students, but there are also significant advantages to the Irish students, who are now studying in a more diverse cultural environment. I always encourage my own Irish students to spend a semester abroad and when the opportunity arose for me to go and complete a teaching mobility in one of our partner universities, I immediately signed up. It allowed me to combine my dual interests of teaching and travel.
My first Teaching Mobility was completed in Czech University of Life Sciences (CULS) in Prague. This was facilitated by Dr. Vlastimil Černý
(Head of International Relations) and he arranged for me to teach “International Marketing” to the Masters students and “Strategic Marketing” to the undergraduate business students. Both groups were completing their studies through English and I was very impressed with their levels of knowledge and enthusiasm. The students asked many questions and there were interesting discussions on International issues.
After the classes were completed Vlastamil and his colleague Dr. Jan Hučko, took me to a local restaurant to eat Czech food and sample the excellent local beers. They showed me a different side of Prague without English menus and serving only traditional Czech food, completely different to the tourist filled bars and restaurants in the old town or Wenceslas Square. I was introduced to “Pečené vepřové koleno“ (Pork knuckle roasted in beer with horseradish & mustard) and this is still my favourite Czech dish today. I also sampled some of the local beers and discovered the university brews its own beer on campus. We had long discussions on cultural differences, politics, sport, history, music and current affairs. Elements of our discussion were integrated into my own classes back in Ireland on International Business culture.
This was my third trip to Prague, but my first real cultural exchange experience and the Erasmus programme is making these opportunities possible for both staff and students. Since that trip, I have been on teaching mobility trips to both Berlin and Helsinki and I look forward to future teaching mobility trips with partner universities in new destinations.