What I’ve Been Looking for: My EMTM Journey
June, 19 2020
For a lot of people, deciding to pursue a
master’s degree is a roller-coaster experience. It can be long. It can be
accidental. How did I end up in the EMTM? Was it worth getting to? Let me share
my story—my road to EMTM, and what this program means to me.
I earned my bachelor’s degree in Tourism in 2011. I remember sitting through the graduation ceremony with unease, because I was not sure what I really wanted to do. Quite frankly, I didn’t know what I could do with my degree in the first place. I immediately took a job in the corporate world as a business development associate, but it never really sat well with me. I left my corporate job after two years. Going into almost a year of being jobless, I decided to go back to my university to get some inspiration. But life always has a way of presenting us with opportunities. I bumped into one of my former professors, who said they were in need of a research staff. I took the job out of desperation, but I didn’t think that I would fall in love with the world of academia. To many, it seems lifeless. With tons of reading and writing and reading and writing, people perceive it as being confined to four walls without going into the “real world”.
But I experienced it very differently. To me, the academic world is magical. Not in the Harry Potter sense, but in how the most abstract subjects come into reality and how reality reflects abstraction. Especially being in tourism research, where everything seems so complex and dynamic, I saw academia as the eyes of the real world—the gateway to understanding issues and uncovering solutions to intricate challenges of the industry. My passion for the academic life has always been rooted in the magic of seeing different theories coming to life in practice. I always believed that education and research should go hand in hand with the realities of industry experiences, so that graduates are well-equipped with critical but innovative thinking to address complex societal issues that the world currently faces.
Having earned my first master’s degree in Environmental Science from the Philippines and being involved in the development of several degree programs, I sure was very critical in choosing the post-graduate program I was to take on next. I specifically chose EMTM because of its promise to deliver a holistic learning journey to hone graduates that are able to deal with one of the most challenging, dynamic, and hostile industries. In my search for a master’s degree in tourism, I found that many of them are within the realm of hospitality or a specialization in a business administration program. But I wanted to be in a program that also recognizes tourism as a scientific body of knowledge, as I believe that its uniqueness as an industry and the scope of disciplines it can cover deserves academic attention. In years of searching, I found the EMTM program having one of the most well-rounded curricula for post-graduate tourism degrees, which allows students to grasp an integrated understanding within different disciplines grounded on the foundations of sustainability.
My academic journey with the EMTM has satisfied my thirst for a post-graduate degree that values both the academic importance and practical implications of tourism. It was also a revelation for me to be exposed to the different learning systems that each university within the mobility program ascribes to. The first semester had the most into a theoretical approach. Hosted by the University of Southern Denmark, we were immersed in a vast experience of academic writing—solidifying our foundations by reading through seminal papers and researches in tourism and understanding the, dreadful to many, research paradigms. However shocking the first semester was to many of my classmates, the semester equipped us with a critical mindset for understanding tourism as a scientific body of knowledge and a significant contributor to the global economy.
But, this didn’t particularly manifest immediately to many until we got to the second and third semesters, when we started working with tourism professionals and stakeholders. During our time in University of Ljubljana, we were given the opportunity to formulate tourism development policies for the top destinations in Slovenia—Ljubljana, Piran, and Bohinj. We also attended the world’s largest tourism trade fair, the ITB Berlin, that allowed us to network in the global tourism industry. In this semester, we developed an understanding of how stakeholders are involved in tourism destinations.
By the time we moved to the University of Girona for the third semester, the students were equipped to act as consultants to the different local governments and destination management organizations. The projects we were given during the third semester highly focused on shaping tourism experiences for tourists and host communities. Working in smaller teams, we had intensive field activities, allowing us to work closely with stakeholders and have an experiential learning within the destinations we were working with. The size and scopes of the organizations we worked with during this semester varied greatly—from country destinations such as Andorra, to mature local destinations such as Lloret de Mar, and mountain-monasteries like Montserrat.
I firmly believe that the progression of learning is what makes the EMTM program special. With a curriculum meticulously crafted to open opportunities both in the academia and industry, the program is perfect for those who seek to advance their skills and capacity as tourism researchers and professionals. With most of us being in the early stages of our careers, EMTM also provides us a platform in discovering and showcasing our potentials, be it in leadership, innovation, or management. As for me, I know that my EMTM journey has greatly solidified my passion for the academe after seeing how theory and practice can blend well together in a degree program. It was also very important to me to be in the company of some of the most supportive mentors in the field, encouraging me as I aspire to pursue my PhD in Tourism after I finish the program. My appreciation for EMTM goes well beyond its curriculum, but also having a very passionate team who creates an environment of encouragement, learning, and growth.
Written by Patricia Talaue, Student of EMTM Generation 2018-2020.