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How a conference in Greece changed my life

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How a conference in Greece changed my life

My story began early autumn, 2009. I was an international student of an Erasmus Mundus Master’s program in Library and Information Science. The program was highly demanding for me, a home-attached student without any previous international student experiences. It is important to stress, in order to provide some background that for the program, I moved from my home-country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where a four-year long war had just ended. I was fully traumatized to the extent that I sometimes found it difficult to even engage in everyday duties. It was a very big deal for me to undertake the program at that point in time!


The program was divided between three European higher education institutions: the University of Parma in Italy, the University of Tallinn in Estonia, and Oslo University College in Norway. During the second semester when I was in Estonia, I had a great time trying to find out about all the different cultures living there peacefully. I had never before, and have never afterwards, seen such a mix of religious buildings, all of them of different provenance.


The semester was reaching its peak, when the students of the program found out that due to some administrative restrictions, they would not be able to travel to Greece for an international conference on research methodology in libraries. All students, except one – me! I was somehow lucky enough to not suffer my classmates’ fate and could travel to Greece for the conference.


I have had a stutter since I was a child, and so it proved extremely challenging for me to speak at an international conference. I was frightened. The day of my presentation was approaching, but I had no time to lose time by worrying. None at all!


But once I reached Chania – the city in Greece where the conference was to be held – I fell in love with the city. It was a small but amazing city, full of colors, smells, extraordinary food


Greece’s Chania was an amazing, small city, full of colors, smells, extraordinary food--full of life! It was wonderful to smell the Mediterranean Sea. I met some wonderful people from around the world, people I know I will never forget because they supported me emotionally during my days in Chania.


My presentation was an exhausting experience for me. Someone who has stuttered their whole life, like I have, may probably understand and relate to what I am talking about. Nevertheless, I came to realize that, when I have the help of kind, interesting, and inspiring people; when I am surrounded by a friendly and intellectually challenging community; and when I have the support of great tools, my presentation may be not only acceptable but also valuable for the listeners.


I shall never forget Chania. I shall never forget every single person from different parts of the world that I met in Chania that year. Interestingly, I also had plenty of time for myself there – for long walks and contemplations. I have always been an introvert, with some exemptions. My working vacation in Greece was the most balanced, most wonderful experience in my life. During this trip, I also met my future husband. But that is another internationally colored story, which, like the one I have just narrated, opens up windows to numerous, wonderful forms of human life.

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Published on: Dec 09, 2019


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