Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology
Irene got in touch with a well-known researcher in her field and used Erasmus funding to travel to his university – first Erasmus+ staff training to learn more, and then Erasmus+ teaching staff mobility to give back by sharing her own knowledge.
In which department are you a doctoral student, Irene, and in which subject?
I am a doctoral student in Italian linguistics at the Centre for Languages and Literature.
What is your doctoral thesis about?
My thesis deals with Italian morphology and word formation, with a special focus on Italian compound words.
You have travelled to the same university in the Czech Republic several times. What kind of contact did you find there? How did you meet?
Yes, I have travelled to the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice. My contact there is Professor Jan Radimský, who has become my assistant supervisor. We “met” online during the pandemic. He had written an enlightening book on nominal compounds in Italian. I had to change my project completely because of the restrictions, and his text was very inspiring. I discussed my ideas with him and he was incredibly helpful, addressing the same topic but with very different approaches. He said he was working with other types of data in Italian morphology, and I was curious about his work there.
Tell us more about your mobilities there. When did you travel? What did you do there?
I had the chance to follow my mentor's work up close. He showed me the computational work he was doing, the software he was using, and how computational linguistics is expanding in the Czech Republic. I absorbed all this new information and tried to find a way to integrate it into my work here in Lund.
You have travelled abroad with funds from Erasmus+ staff training and will soon be travelling with Erasmus+ teaching staff mobility. Why?
The first exchange was more exploratory. I wanted to learn new ways of working and new approaches to technology in linguistics. This time I think I am ready to give something back to their institution.
What kind of teaching do you plan to do this spring?
I have already planned various seminars. In particular, I will show how my approach to the study of morphology is different from what they are used to there. I will explain the challenges of experimental work, and how different techniques can be used in this field. I will also teach more general concepts in Italian morphology through more classical lectures.
What have you gained from your previous exchanges to this university?
I have learned a new way of thinking about my object of study. It is a very narrow field, so I had probably gotten stuck thinking about this in a one-dimensional way. This was a way to rediscover what I am actually researching.
What has been most enjoyable or rewarding?
The insight that there are hidden areas of something I thought I knew so well, the idea that you can discover new characteristics just by looking at things differently, that it provides new aspects to research. And also making friends with people whose work I admired, but whose names I only knew from books.
What has been the most challenging?
Everything is challenging when you are conducting research and when you meet new researchers and new ways of doing research. That is the most exciting part of research!
Do you have any tips for other doctoral students travelling abroad for mobility?
Everyone's experience is different, so I am not sure I can speak for many. What worked for me was travelling with an open heart and an open mind, so that I could come back with a mind full of as many stimuli as it can get and a heart full of as many good memories as it can hold.