Not satisfied with the cold weather in the UK, Exponential visited Borlange, Sweden as part of the BizLearn.Net Project, only to find that the weather was even colder!
Having arrived in Stockholm airport Myself, James Dillon and Sandra Pollock made the most of their two hour wait by catching up with emails, contacting people using Skype and of course shopping! Then it was time to catch the train to Borlange and for anyone planning to travel by train in Sweden a useful tip is to 'travel light'. Getting on and off a train that requires the navigation of three steep steps is not an easy challenge with a heavy suitcase, a laptop case and (for the ladies) a handbag.
Arrival at Borlange station, two hours later and nearly midnight, the Exponential Team met up with with some of their European colleagues and started their walk to the hotel - in the wrong direction! Thank goodness for mobile phones with GPS navigation systems. After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast the team were ready to face Day One.
The Exponential Team met with representatives from the eight other countries participating in the BizLearn.Net project with the purpose of hearing about the progress that had been made since the last meeting in Portugal. The aim of the project, which was started in 2011, is to set up and facilitate a virtual learning network for the competence and development of small and micro entrepreneurs. "I was keen to hear how the virtual learning programme had been received by the business owners in the other countries and have the opportunity to discuss the project once again with those I met in Portugal!" said James Dillon.
The constructive feedback from the different countries helped to form the basis of actions which will contribute to the project coming to its conclusion at the 5th meeting in France in August.
In addition to focussing on the BizLearn.Net project the Swedish hosts had arranged a visit to Dalarna University - a brisk 15 minute walk away, so it was time to wrap up again. This visit provided the opportunity to find out about a net based language training project for adults, an overview of future project programmes in the European Union and the virtual ways in which students of the University can attend lectures.
'Teknikdalen' (Technical Valley), connected to the University, was the meeting venue for the final day and provided the opportunity for another brisk walk. Discussions around the project continued, including hearing first hand from a beneficiary of the project and considering how the BizLearn.Net work could be maintained outside the confines of the project.
The return train journey to Stockholm was made during daylight hours and provided the opportunity to take in the Swedish countryside, which was covered in snow for as far as the eye could see and peppered with the occasional forest and village or town. What was amazing was the ability to keep the road and rail networks free from snow and clearly the weather did not appear to impact upon moving around the country.