Being connected to the immediate reality whilst helping/coaching/nurturing/educating others; promoting a fair give and take exchange between people, whilst celebrating everyone’s individual interests and diversity.
My passion for education started in 2002 when I graduated my first Bachelor degree in Philology (the extensive study of the Romanian and French languages) from the Univ. Al.I.Cuza, Romania. After obtaining my degree, I studied Psychology and Sociology in Bucharest. I got my third and fourth degrees in the U.K., a Bachelor’s in Childhood Studies and a Master’s in Teaching and Learning in Vocational Education. Throughout my studies, I have realized that learning motivates me more than anything else, and I will never stop learning.
In my first job as a Romanian Language and Literature Teacher, I gained a lot in terms of input and practical skills. The age gap between my students and myself was quite small, only five years, but the learning experience was fantastic, as I had to start from scratch at the beginning of my career and face challenges related to the learning environment. Learning how to customize my teaching approach to match my students’ needs was a learning process that opened new avenues towards self-reflection. The bond that I formed with my students reminds me of my success in the position and makes me think fondly of the first days when I became an educator. Although I loved that job and immensely valued my experience, I sought new economic opportunities abroad to begin my family life.
After earning my Master’s degree, I became an Academic Support Specialist at the University College Birmingham. There my role was to work with the teachers to support the students by removing barriers to the students’ learning and continuously support vulnerable students in attaining their full potential. In that position, I learned how to be more analytical and identify the sources of problems as well as to inspire students and improve their academic journeys.
Over the course of my career, I have had many key takeaways. I learned to follow my dreams with determination, no matter how rocky the path. I also learned the importance of being a positive role model and to proudly be part of an institution with a healthy working environment, which promotes good staff morale necessary to ensure sustainable progress. I know now to invest in continuous professional development and ultimately to have fun whilst working hard to accomplish my dreams.
Six months ago, I arrived in Eindhoven with my Dutch partner. For me, becoming the partner of a ‘knowledge worker’ was like climbing a wall, in that at a certain moment, I came to realize that I had been confronted with a whole new set of expectations. Part of coming here as a ‘spouse’ was figuring out how not to live in the shadow cast by my partner. Because of my change of environment, I once again started exploring and acting as a problem solver. Becoming more flexible made my transition easier, as I expanded my search and became permeable to change. I also worked on myself to become more aware of who I am – the new me – and to reframe my ‘differences’ as strengths and not weaknesses. My partner and ESI offered me great support, with the first providing emotional comfort and the second opening the gates to new opportunities for me.
In my job search, I started out using the strategies that I had used before in the UK, but those strategies did not all work here. Finally, I used my observation skills and worked out some of the successful expats in the region, which led me to ESI.
ESI has connected us with remarkable opportunities using their career Ambassadors. They put in continuous efforts to teach candidates how to increase their visibility and build on our self-confidence by allowing each of us to explore our strengths and weaknesses in a safe and nurturing environment. Before the program I knew that there were a lot of expats in Eindhoven who work without speaking Dutch, but I pessimistically imagined that in my sector I would need to learn Dutch before getting a job. Through the Women for Women programme, I realized that a lot of people were in the same situation as me and were maybe more positive about getting a job, while my mind was stuck in a rut. Navigating the program gave me hope and courage, enabling a mindset change. I realized that the gap I had wasn’t only linguistic but the reactions I was having to my situation. This programme helped me reframe my assets and remove natural disadvantages by becoming more decisive in my hunt. I learned I could overcome the language gap. Finally, with the network I gained through Women for Women, I got a job in my field, for which I am very grateful.