From Athens with love

Eva Tsoukou, a second year BSc Biomedical Science student at the University of Bradford, is spending three months on an Erasmus+ traineeship, in the historic city of Athens, in Greece. She used her lab skills to land her a role as a Biomedical Scientist in the Hellenic Institute of Pasteur. She shares her experience with us…

Changing your career direction is much harder when you are older. You will definitely agree that this is simpler for us students. This is the particular case in our lives where we can work in different areas of our jobs and understand which one suits us better, even if just to satisfy an interest. As I have participated twice in the Erasmus+ traineeship programme, I believe summer is the best chance to get work experience and try something new. Once we graduate everything changes dramatically and opportunities disappear and that is why we should know exactly what field we want to follow.

Erasmus provides you with direction for the future. Knowledge helps you to understand all the particular parts in the field you are graduating into. Choosing a career path is a choice that will influence the rest of our lives.

Greek ruins

Let me tell you my story…

In my first year of studies, I started to consider potential summer travel opportunities and with the Erasmus programmes listed on our University’s website, this sounded like the perfect chance for me. I was trying to find one programme that would let me gain international work and travel experience and add benefit to my CV after my graduation. Hence, I began applying for jobs online and asking if they have spaces for students.

The process

In January 2015, I had a positive reply from a hospital in Greece and I submitted my application in the international office of our university for the first time, and waited to hear back. The study abroad office they confirmed the job was relevant to my studies. In receiving a positive response from the Study abroad office, I secured the position of Microbiology assistant in a cancer hospital of Athens.

In January 2016, I did exactly the same process and I made my dream come true…I tried really hard to find a placement with the International Network of Pasteur Institutes, and finally I managed to work as a Biomedical Scientist in the virology department of the Hellenic Institute of Pasteur. After emailing back and forth extensively with my employer and an interview to secure the position, I booked my ticket for the summer months. I felt the role suited my qualities, and it was exactly what I was looking for when I originally signed up.

Dream job

Eva at work.These days, I enjoy my dream job and feel that it was the best choice I could ever make. One year before my graduation, I have already decided what path of my field I want to follow and make dreams for my future career. The Institute of Pasteur gave me the opportunity to work in the National Influenza Reference Laboratory, the National Measles and Rubella Laboratory and the National Poliovirus Laboratory of Greece. Day after day I am gaining unique experiences that I would never gain in the university. I have already dealt with the most relevant viruses like Zika and Influenza Viruses and cannot wait to see more molecular techniques in the next months.

My participation in the Erasmus programme is definitely sure to improve both my personal and professional skills. Moreover, Erasmus makes you more open-minded as a person as you learn more about different civilizations, societies and cultures. Last but not least, it is a priceless opportunity to make friends and meet scientists from other nationalities.

It is an incredible way to enhance your employability and work experience overseas. It offers you the chance to gain work experience and earn whilst you travel and gain valuable experience in a number of industries. Erasmus generally can give you security and reassurance and give you all the confidence that you need to follow your dreams to work abroad.

And don’t forget…

“The only source of knowledge is experience” – Albert Einstein

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