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Sheila Kutto | Spain, University of Girona

My Erasmus+ experience in Girona, Spain, was transformative in both my education and my personal and career growth. This experience was unique since it happened during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, I was able to make the best out of it. I was fortunate to be able to take a tourism management course at the Universitat de Girona in Spain during an exchange programme from my home University, Kenyatta University. I had the opportunity to work on various research projects with supportive professors and students. The research areas included Destination branding, destination marketing and management, among others. This was achieved through research and fieldwork. During fieldwork, we visited various destinations as tourism consultants and researchers in and out of Costa Brava. This was a valuable learning experience, very hands-on, and it helped me develop my research, critical thinking, problem-solving, and networking skills, among others. This allowed me to expand my knowledge and skills in the field I am most passionate about: Tourism Management.

My class had students from approximately 24 nationalities. These Erasmus+ students were welcoming, friendly, intelligent and ambitious. Being in a new environment brought about nervousness and even imposter syndrome. However, interacting with the students and faculty gave me a sense of belonging. Their confidence and self-drive pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I immediately developed self-confidence. I also got to experience and learn so much about other cultures, which I hold deeply in my heart. I can confidently say that I made lifelong friends in a country far from home during a difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic, which came with all sorts of anxiety. Aside from class work, the student group organized social activities such as meet-ups, excursions, site visits, and food experiences. Such activities were beneficial to personal well-being. The Erasmus Experience didn’t end with the exchange period. The professors have been accommodating even past the programme. They assured students of an open-door policy, and I have always contacted them for insights and consultations, which they have offered promptly. This experience has given me confidence, self-belief, and independence. I am now more flexible in adapting to new situations and cultures, and I have valuable communication skills and more knowledge and skills in tourism management. I am currently working at an organization that values responsible tourism. I can contribute to this organization’s growth due to the skills and expertise I gained from the Erasmus+ experience.