This summer, I was lucky enough to partake in a ‘Sustainable Global Experience’ in the beautiful and vibrant city of Amsterdam with the organisation Pagoda Projects. The study tour lasted 6 days and the principal aim of the programme was to become ‘Carbon Literate.’ Pagoda’s other main aim was to strengthen professional skills. The trip involved taking the Eurostar from London to Amsterdam (considered one of ‘Eco Capital’s’ in Europe) with other students from my university (Aberystwyth) and Cardiff Metropolitan University, tours and meetings with sustainable businesses within the city, interactive learning and exhibitions, a group project, and a final presentation to an audience and an expert panel. The programme also incorporated compulsory e-learning, remote online sessions/courses, and a final written piece as part of the Carbon Literacy Training.
Pagoda Projects SGE Amsterdam Study Tour – Worth it?
And so… what’s the verdict? Was it helpful?? (Or did you just fancy a trip to Amsterdam)?
Absolutely, yes, you betcha your last bottom dime, no ifs and no buts, my carbon conscious study tour was a worthwhile and useful experience! One of the reasons for this, is that it gave me an added insight into my current capabilities. For instance, I know that I am someone who likes to do everything, particularly when it comes to projects. (The perfectionist in me can’t help it)! With my language’s degree, I don’t tend to do many joint assignments, but I know that in the past, I’ve always done more than my fair share of group tasks, (I often offered to do bits for others, because I want the project to come across the way that I have it in ‘my head’). However, this was not the case with the group project from the study tour experience… I really enjoyed working in a group and appreciated the benefit of working as a team.
How did that make you feel about completing the teamwork?
I was put in a group with people I’d only briefly met during the last couple of days; I knew that teamwork was important to the task, and is a crucial skill within the workplace, so I purposely stopped myself taking control, and was flexible to go with other people’s ideas. I further realised that it was great to utilise one another to bounce of ideas, distribute the workload (I felt like this was the key to our success – effective delegation is key!) And thus, have a unity and sense of reassurance when it came to presenting.
As a result, this part of the experience surprised me; I realised that I do have the ability, to suppress my perfectionist controlling side of me, ahem, aka, to allow others to take responsibility and do their fair share of the project, adding their own style and twist, and so, creating a joint piece of work to be proud of! Overall, this experience further demonstrated to me that I can work effectively with a group of people that I have never met before.
How has the Pagoda experience helped you?
My perfectionist side is both my strength and my weakness, but again, Pagoda’s study tour experience programme allowed me to hone in on this quality and utilise it in the right way. For example, the project was proposed to us on the Tuesday, and we had to give our presentation on the Thursday… usually my perfectionism brain would be screaming inside for MORE TIME and would be in a fit of nerves about having to present something in front of a live audience with so little practice time.
However, this programme reinforced to me that not everything can be a masterpiece all the time; that in circumstances where there is a short deadline, I need to work with my initial ideas so that I can develop a breadth of work to showcase as a ‘work in progress.’ This is something that I usually really struggle with, but having this experience in the programme, showcased to me that I can come up with innovative ideas in a short space of time (with the help of peers) and give/produce a clear and concise presentation.
This skill and experience is something that I’ll definitely take with me for future deadlines at university, and further afield. Moreover, although nerve-wracking, I found the public presentations to be extremely useful. I kept composure by realising that everybody was in the same boat as me. I also found being an audience member beneficial, as it allowed me to take tips and pointers from others on what makes an engaging presentation; and this is something, I’ll use going forward in my academic practices and professional career.
What would you say is your biggest takeaway from Pagoda SGE?
Overall, I would say one of the biggest takeaways is that I have a real passion for sustainability; the learning part (online or through visiting sustainable business) of my internship has really inspired me to make more changes within my lifestyle and encourage others to follow suit (a domino effect which Pagoda had hoped to achieve through their Carbon Conscious Study Tours).
With my undergraduate degree, my career prospects are relatively open, and I am not entirely sure what career path I would like to take; however, sustainability is something that definitely sparks my interest in terms of a future job. I am extremely grateful to have had this study tour experience this summer; I know that I have yet to reap all the benefits from it!
About the Author
The author was a student who undertook this programme in 2022. They have chosen to stay anonymous.