Camila Borges Freitas
Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology
Camila travelled to Paris on a two-day job shadowing mobility. She emphasises that even such a short visit can be very rewarding indeed; in her case it turned out to be a kind of door-opener, in anticipation of future visits. She thinks that PhD students have much to gain from a mobility period abroad, both academically and professionally.
Hello Camila! Which is your department? What is your area of research?
I am a doctoral student at the department of Arts and Cultural Sciences. My area of research is archival and information studies.
You just arrived back home after a mobility period abroad with Erasmus+ funding. Please tell us a bit more!
I spent two days in Paris job shadowing the coordinator of a lesbian/feminist community archive. She is a long-time activist and has been dedicating a big part of her life to preserving and publicising women’s history in France.
I followed her in her tasks of assisting researchers who go to the archive for various reasons. We also spent some time browsing part of the collections together, while she would tell me about the archive’s history and their methods for gathering, appraising, organising, indexing, and making records accessible to the public.
How did you get in contact with the colleagues in Paris, prior to your mobility?
This archive has been on my radar for quite some time, so I introduced myself by email upon the beginning of my PhD last year. When I heard about the job shadowing opportunities, I got in touch with them and asked if it would be possible for them to have me there following their routine for a couple of days. They responded very positively and, since the archive is only open to visitors once a week, they kindly changed their opening schedule to accommodate my job shadowing visit.
Do you think that the exchange has been and will be beneficial for your research and for your future career? In what ways?
Absolutely! It was a great opportunity to have a first close contact with this archive that is super relevant to my research. Besides, I got to listen to great stories about activist movements in France, and networked with people who are involved in the archive in different ways.
The visit was crucial for me to establish a connection with the archive, which I plan to visit again in a longer fieldwork trip, where I will be conducting interviews and looking more closely at their collections and archival methods. The short but effective job shadowing experience was a door opener and already made a positive impact on my research.
The experience also added a lot to my training as an archivist, since it made it possible for me to get familiar with some of their archival methods.
What was the best part of your recent Erasmus+ trip?
A great thing about this trip was being reminded that conducting research is something complex, that involves different tasks and goes beyond sitting in our offices. It was fun to practise French again and very inspiring to get to "the field" and meet people who dedicate their time to interesting and relevant projects.
What were the challenges?
One challenge I faced was to get the archivist's signature on my application form in time. Since I was dealing with a volunteer-run organisation, people there were not always available and the replies to my emails could take a long time.
So, it is a good idea to get in touch with the organisation that you plan to visit well in advance and make them aware of the guidelines of the staff mobility program.
How did you find the process of applying for the Erasmus+ funding?
I found it quite straightforward and uncomplicated. The application form is easily filled out if you have a clear objective for your trip. The support I got from the International Office made things really smooth, and the information on the Staff Pages clearly explains the step-by-step of the whole process.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us? Do you have any tips or suggestions for PhD students who will venture out on mobilities in the future?
My suggestion is: go for it! As PhD students, we can gain so much from the mobility programs as they help broaden our professional and academic perspectives. It is a great opportunity to learn/practise skills and to network, and that can make a big impact on our future careers.