My Erasmus+ Staff Mobility Week in Timişoara, Romania ran from 18 – 22 April 2022. I was fortunate to have benefited from the Erasmus+ Staff Mobility grants which funded the entire trip including the training fees, flight, accommodation, and subsistence.
The programme was organised by the European Academy of Innovation (EAI) and hosted by the West University of Timişoara. Famed for its catchy ‘Dare 2 Succeed’ slogan, the EAI is a professional training entity affiliated to more than a hundred universities. It offers consultancy and training programmes on demand. The training programmes cover a wide range of subject areas including new ways of thinking, academic leadership, skills for the future, stress management and mindfulness.
The training programme which I attended was focused on Academic Project Management. I was part of a small cohort of six participants which constituted members of staff from higher education institutions in Belgium, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain, and the UK.
Delivered by experienced trainers, the structure of the intensive programme consisted of interactive lectures and workshops on topics including fundamental approaches to project management, project methodologies, planning tools, implementation techniques, stakeholder prioritisation, communication and dissemination, framework matrices, as well as project sustainability, budgeting, monitoring, and reporting. The setting was designed to foster dialogue and debates, and to challenge perceptions through tasks implementation and review of project case studies.
The dynamic scenery of the IBIS hotel which hosted the lectures and workshops, and where all the trainees were lodged, provided endless opportunities for interactions and networking amongst participants.
Part of the training programme also involved presentations by participants on an overview of their home universities and projects that they have been engaged with. It was interesting to learn about some innovative community engagement projects that other universities were involved in such as the local parental coaching scheme for international students run by Thomas More University of Applied Sciences in Belgium, and the construction of a community care home for the elderly which is largely managed by social care majors on placements from the Polytechnic Institute of Santarém in Portugal. It was also a proud moment for me to learn from one of the participants from the Orthopaedic Technology Department at Thomas More University of Applied Sciences that a main technological component used in their orthopaedic practices originated from the University of Bath.
The most fascinating outtake for me about the training programme is the flexibility with which the rudimental knowledge and skills in Academic Project Management can be applied to just about any other project. My main aim for attending this training programme was to be equipped with a solid foundation in project management and the required skills in the main phases of academic project management. At the programme culmination which was marked by a certificate award ceremony following an assessment, I was convinced that this objective was duly accomplished.
Apart from the lectures and workshops, the training programme also included daily aspects of cultural immersion which included Romanian dance classes, traditional Romanian dinners, Timişoara Spa, kayaking on the Bega River, photojournalism displays, art exhibitions, and a symphonic concert by the Banatul Philharmonic Orchestra of Timişoara.
In addition, an entire day was dedicated to activities packed with history sessions, culture, fun, and visits to the Village Museum, the Museum of the Communist Consumer, the Art Museum, the Recas Winery, and the Library of Politehnica University. Among the prominent locations we visited was the Liberty Square, aptly named to mark the place where Timișoara was proclaimed as the first city to be freed of communism in Romania following the 1989 revolution.
A humbling moment for me was the visit to the Museum of the Revolution, a community-led endeavour established to keepsake and relive the memories of the martyr heroes of the revolution. I was moved by the enactment of the revolution with real sounds of gun shots and crowd wails including the real bullet-ripped protest flags and blood-stained outfits worn by the protesters. A row of mock corpses and darkrooms with spotlights on spiral artefacts depicting the departed souls of the dead heroes served as reminders of the violent civil unrest, indiscriminate killings and missing thousands that characterised the revolution.
The depth of knowledge and passion with which our tour guide and museum officials recounted the history of Timişoara and the story of the revolution were indeed impressive. It was fascinating to learn that Romania is the home of the legendary Dracula and that in November 1884, Timişoara was recognised as the first city in Europe with electric streetlights.
In true revolutionary spirit, a piece of the actual Berlin wall graces the entrance of the Museum of the Revolution.
The city and the people of Timişoara
Oh! the splendour of cosmopolitan Timişoara, a beautiful yet underrated city with monumental picturesque squares, revolutionary architecture, and metropolitan orthodoxy. It was because of its beauty, rich culture and harmonious blend of ethnicities that Timişoara was elected the European Capital of Culture for 2021.
There is a real buzz about the city centre with vibrant open-air markets, street cafés, amazing singing buskers, trams, and street performers. The city boasts some of the finest eatery joints with food variety ranging from arty patisseries and rich salads to whole pig menus. Ok, maybe not the literal pig, but you get the meat. The point is, there is enough variety for everyone.
The people are warm, friendly, and chatty, and the revolution appears to be a recurrent theme in everyday conversations.
Overall, my staff mobility in Timişoara was an amazing experience. The programme enabled me to acquire skills in academic project management and gain familiarity with a rich and dynamic culture. It broadened my professional network with exposure to innovative civic responsibility endeavours run by other higher education institutions in Europe which could be beneficial if emulated by the University of Bath.
More importantly, it enhanced my self-confidence and ability to identify project opportunities, a skill which I believe is vital in improving career prospects.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Romania and felt satisfied to be returning to Bath with renewed vigour and an excitement to share my experience with colleagues.
I would strongly recommend for any member of staff to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Erasmus+ Staff Mobility programme particularly as it is in its final year at Bath.
I am grateful to have taken part in the staff mobility programme, one which would not have been possible without the Erasmus+ grant.