If you’re an international student, you may have met her during your admission process: Martina is a personal advisor at the International Relations Office. She went to do an Erasmus+ staff experience in Mexico, at the Tecnológico de Monterrey “Tec” in Guadalajara and came back with many ideas and memories… We sat down with her to hear about her time there!
Discovering Guadalajara and its surroundings
Thanks to a Mexican roommate she had had in Valencia many years ago, Martina had a place to stay in Guadalajara and a big support! When she was not working, her trip was filled with visits of Mexican towns. She particularly enjoyed Guadalajara: “The city centre is beautiful. There is a lot of history, a lot of churches, but it was beautiful. I just fell in love with Guadalajara and Mexico in general”. She also got to see three other towns: Tequila, were the Tequila was born; Tlaquepaque, a typical town with mariachis; and Chapala, where she saw the biggest lake of Latin America.
Understanding a culture through first-hand experience
Martina also told us about what she learned in terms of culture. The Erasmus program is indeed also meant to discover a new culture and broaden one’s horizons.
Even though her time there was short, she still managed to get a glimpse of it and understand Mexican people more. “You’re richer after this. You can understand more why they ask some questions that in Spain could seem strange; but are, in the Mexican culture, considered normal”. She learned a lot about the Mexican students and Latin Americans in general.
Going to another country: the best way to experience something new
“I am international; CEU is international”. During our talk, Martina kept on repeating this. And indeed, we understood why: she was born in Italy, at the frontier with France, but has been living in Spain for quite a while now. She originally came here for an internship, and never left. She thus experienced herself all the fears and questions international students can have when coming to live and study in another country. This is the reason why she told us she was proud to be part of the international department. “It’s beautiful to give more enthusiasm or take away some future students’ fears.” she said.
According to Martina, fear can hold back many students who’d like to go and experiment something else. She also thinks that the best way to learn something, whether it be languages, or other things, is to go to another country. She concluded by saying this: “I think international means these two things: be open to other countries, but also to other experiences and give the possibility for the international students to learn about your country.”
“I think international means these two things: be open to other countries, but also to other experiences”
What makes an international university?
From comparing the two universities, we asked Martina if she could tell us what it means to be an international university. According to her, it first means that any student, no matter where s/he comes from, can come and study at Tec or CEU Valencia. “For me, being an international university means that you can provide a service, admission for example, for each person in the world.”
She also insisted on equality of treatment. Even though it’s true that international students need more attention because of visas and other papers, “you don’t have to treat international students a different way” and “everything has to be the same”.
Sharing experience to provide students with the best service
Martina went to share her experience and exchange ideas with Tec. She seemed more than happy with this: “I was really lucky because they received me really well, as if I was one of the members of Tec’s international team.”
Thanks to this collaboration, both Tec and CEU Valencia have learned a lot. “We compared the two experiences and we tried to find a new spot for all two.” she explains. “We try to be a better university and do networking with our partners. Tec learned from me, the same way as I learned from them.”
Both Tec and CEU Valencia are international universities, and Martina and the Tec staff compared how they do things. Martina told us that she had been amazed by the campus and how large it was. And indeed, the tour lasted two hours! “It has everything you need” she said. She insisted on the difference of scale, but also on the fact that despite this, what both universities did was not that different: “They do things differently but what they do is really not that different. We both want to provide the best service to our students”.
Erasmus+ for staff: another great way to network and cooperate with partner universities from around the world. Thanks Martina, and keep up the good work!