Learning journey experiences and stepping out of the comfort zone
EA – The Entrepreneurship Academy stands by the international experience the Learning Journeys can offer. Their scope is to shape our students into becoming creative, well-rounded business people and ambitious, seeing what is possible and learning how to obtain it, regardless of geographical limits and cultural background. And who can share better the experiences collected throughout these years than one of our 4th-year students – Roro El Abed.
How would you describe learning journeys and the methodology behind them?
Hey guys, my name is Roro El Abed and I’m a 4th-year student at EA – The Entrepreneurship Academy. Within this article I’m going to share some of the learnings I managed to extract, related to my experience during our Learning Journeys.
To begin with, let me share with you the Learning Journey Methodology. During our four years at this university, each student is supposed to travel each year for six to eight weeks to a different destination aligned with the learning objectives of the respective study year. Why? Together with your team, you are supposed to get to learn about different business environments, practices and fully emerge in different cultures.
What’s the best part about them? You have the freedom of choosing what you want to learn as well as what you will later apply in your new, or existing business. My preferred way of learning during these journeys consisted of visiting companies I had an interest in, attending networking events, and meeting as many influential people as I could during our limited time there.
How did you feel when you first flew to another country with a bunch of people you just met?
To be honest, at first, I was a bit scared of what was going to happen. After all, I was going to spend 6 weeks sharing a room with three people I just met not even a week ago. I remember we were 45 students in total, we were put in a plane and sent to Amsterdam. We were supposed to start our international experience, get to know our colleagues, and build relationships for the upcoming step to follow – the forming of the teams. And I couldn’t understand anything the university was talking about. I was just coming out of a classic educational system where everybody was on his own.
Contrary to my previous beliefs, the Learning Journey in Amsterdam turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve had at EA as it set the ground for creating a team that relies on trust and care. Our first interaction with this program has been ground 0 in our development both as individuals and as entrepreneurs. Looking back at myself and my colleagues, I have never seen so many people growing and developing in such a quick yet controlled manner. And this is something that happens here at EA, throughout the experiences we are offered – when the reality hits, you wake up and start doing anything to keep up with the expectations.
For me, the Learning Journeys were the best part of each academic year. I loved every second of it – the preparation, the ups, and the downs. The best thing about them is that they are designed in such a way that we had to escape our comfort zone. From my perspective, this is the point from which most of the evolution happens. On a personal level, I feel as I’ve broadened my horizons in terms of interculturality throughout Learning Journeys, such as the one in South Africa. There, I must admit that I’ve managed to discover amazing cultural clashes. I also got the chance to see and learn more about the power of social entrepreneurship, together with what real determination looks like.
When it comes to strong professional development you will get to see for yourself how much you can learn about new business practices. This was my case during our third year of Learning Journey in America. Besides that, you will be able to discover billion-dollar industries that are at a very incipient stage in Romania, but hold a lot of weight once they are brought and developed here.
In terms of challenges, what did you face, and how you overcame them?
During these four years, we faced lots of challenges. As a teenager in Romania, it is a really small chance that you’ll expect to be sent out of the country by your university while offered complete autonomy. I think that during our first year the biggest challenge consisted of us being given the freedom to do anything. Besides this, we also needed to fulfill a money goal during those six weeks, but no one told us how to do it. We had to get creative, and we did it. In the end, all of us were able to meet the expectations EA had from us. How? Everything that we did was based on a simple principle: teamwork. We took the challenge and chose to trust and help each other to succeed.
From there on, the next challenges consisted mostly in cultural clashes, long-distance traveling, organizing schedules by ourselves, and finding contacts that would ultimately help us meet the goals we had to fulfill during our travels. All in one, all of us had to adapt to and overcome difficult situations. But what made the difference in us getting here has been the fact that we always stuck to each other, no matter what.
Is there anything you could recommend for the next generations to come?
One advice? Plan everything as detailed as possible for a couple of months before going anywhere. Your accommodation, your plane tickets, the rental car. And most importantly, plan as many meetings and company visits as possible. In this way, you will be able to start working from your first step there, thus enabling you to get the best results from the experience in itself.
Thank you for making it this far. I hope that by now you’ve made an idea about what you are going to experience in your future Learning Journeys. And guys, remember that even though it might seem a bit unsettling at first, it will be one of the best experiences a student can ask for, at least that’s how I and my team view it.
I am also very happy to answer any other questions or curiosities that you might have in regards to the Learning Journeys, just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check my work at:
El Abed Rizkallah – 4th year – Co-Owner Coin Vert