Before Departure: preparing to visit Finland with Erasmus+ staff mobility

Oulu public library.  Image by 12019 on Pixabay

In roughly one month, I’ll be jetting off to Finland thanks to Erasmus+ funding. I’ll be spending just under a week at Oulu University of Applied Sciences (Oamk) for their International Teacher and Staff Exchange Week (ITSEW).

I’m really excited!

I chose to apply to Oamk for two reasons. Firstly, I really wanted to use this opportunity to visit Finland, and secondly I chose Oamk in particular because of the themes under the Library Services track of the programme; online library services, systematic information literacy in health, and virtual librarianship. I feel these fairly accurately sum up my job role!

The first step was to apply for Erasmus+ funding from the University of Edinburgh, which involved an application form and approval from my line manager. Then I applied to Oamk, explaining why I wanted to attend and also what I could offer to knowledge exchange. I’ve applied to this organised week, but the Erasmus+ funding allows you to arrange your own visit. Once I had confirmation of acceptance, I could fill out the paperwork and book my travel.

Train at a station platform with a pedestrian bridge overhead
I’ll be taking a Finnish sleeper train to Helsinki!  Image by terribl on Pixabay

My travel costs came in above the amount of my grant but I’m able to budget that from my subsistence grant, which covers accommodation, food, internal travel, etc. The flexibility of the grants has been really helpful.

We have the option to use the University of Edinburgh’s travel agent but I found the flight logistics turned out trickier than I expected, so decided it was best to do it myself to avoid potential post-midnight arrival and/or three connecting flights!

I’m hoping the week will be an exciting mix of presentations, knowledge exchange opportunities, visits, and cultural exchange with our Finnish hosts and the other international participants. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing whether I’m behind, ahead or firmly on the curve in terms of information literacy instruction and virtual librarianship. It will be interesting to consider this blog post and my expectations after I have returned from ITSEW.

I’ve planned a day visiting Helsinki, too. Returning back to Edinburgh a day later means I can catch a direct flight, and I’ll be able to see some friends living there. I’m hoping to fit in at least one trip to a sauna, a quintessential Finnish experience, and maybe visit one of Helsinki’s beautiful libraries.

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