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Helena Legnell

International Coordinator at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm

I am born and raised on an Island outside of Stockholm. From a young age I was quite interested in "other cultures" that were different from my own.
Not knowing what to do in my early twenties, I went on a few language courses, first in England and then in Spain. I am not sure how much English/Spanish I learned, but maybe something about life.
After that it was time to get "a proper" education and hanging on to my interest in culture I chose to study Ethnology at University. I now have a Bachelor of arts in that field. During University I also took part in an Erasmus exchange to Limerick, Ireland.
Now I am settled in Stockholm, with my husband and two children.

I was offered the position as an International Coordinator at the School of Engineering Sciences, KTH, ten years ago. It was actually my old International Coordinator from my own Erasmus exchange that saw my application and suggested I´d get an interview.
I really enjoyed the work with incoming and outgoing exchange students. But after almost nine years working at a University department, I felt it was time to move on. However, I really found that internationalization at a HEI was a very interesting field to work in and wished to stay within the same type of work.
I, therefore, happily accepted, when I was offered the position as the International Coordinator at KMH in 2019. My current position means that I get to keep the contact with the exchange students, but also develop my skills in more overall and strategic tasks, such as being the Schools Coordinator for the different Nordplus networks and the Erasmus Programme. I am also more connected to the rest of the University at KMH, since we do not have a separate International Office. My closest colleagues are instead within the Student Affairs Office, where all topics from admission to final degree is handled.

A part from that I find the field of Internationalization interesting and finding joy in the sometimes hands on "culture studies" the job do offer. My favourite part must be, seeing the students grow. Sometimes the before and after version of a student having been on an exchange is like seeing two different people. Usually the after version is "the better" one. I have many times been part in guiding a somewhat insecure and shy person to an exchange destination that will not only be an academic challenge, but a personal one as well. Having that same person return with a new- found confident and a better understanding of the world is so rewarding to see. I do think that we, IRC-staff, in a way, is part in getting the world to be a more inclusive, diverse and interesting place.