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"My time at EUI": alumni's reminiscences

 

Rebecca WolffbergHaving studied and worked abroad in several countries before coming to the EUI, I had already experienced several international academic environments. Nothing, however, came come close to the breadth and level of intellectual capacity I found at the EUI, not to mention the openness and curiosity of mind which characterizes the researchers at the EUI. Doing my Ph.D. at the EUI involved daily interesting talks with people of great academic ability and willingness to share their insights and exchange views on both work and current affairs, which both strengthened my research and broadened my horizons. It also included lots of EUI-activities outside of research, not least with the “Mad Cows” women’s soccer team, which took the stress off after sometimes challenging days of work. It was therefore never a lonely experience being at the EUI, despite the inherent individual nature of Ph.D. work. I also had supervision of the absolute highest quality, and received great assistance from the staff of the EUI whenever I needed help.To sum it up - the 4 years I spent at the EUI have been among the best years of my life, and the friendships and relations I made at the EUI, I have no doubt, will last for life.

Rebecca Wolffberg (Ph.D. 2016)

davide morisi 120xBefore starting my Ph.D., I imagined that the EUI would be a very special place for academic research. Four years later, after graduating, I am absolutely convinced about it – the EUI is truly a unique place. What makes it exceptional, among many aspects, is its genuine international community, in which researchers with diverse backgrounds and expertise create a thriving and stimulating intellectual environment. If I could choose again where to do my Ph.D., I have no doubt I would choose the EUI.

Davide Morisi (Ph.D. 2016)

 

Pierre SchlosserWriting a Ph.D. here at the European University Institute’s Social and Political Sciences Department was a very rewarding and enriching experience in several ways. If I had however to pick up the most distinctive features of the EUI compared to other leading Ph.D.-awarding universities, I would stress two: the unprecedented access that Ph.D. researchers have to high-caliber senior professors of varying horizons and the deep embeddedness of the EUI in the EU institutional landscape. Given the largely empirical nature of my Ph.D., I was very aware of these two advantages when I applied. A few years later, I realize that these two ingredients are what makes the EUI the unique and fantastic research place that it is. Other places do not provide such opportunities.

Pierre Schlosser (Ph.D. 2016)

Chiara MilanDoing a Ph.D. at the Political and Social Sciences Department of the European University Institute represented a unique and valuable experience. The EUI is an excellent place for research and thesis writing thanks to the wide range of support that it offers to its researchers, both in terms of supporting facilities and academic courses and seminars. The institute provided me with multiple opportunities to meet and network with senior fellows, experts and leading scholars in my field, which broadened my knowledge of the topic and improved the quality of my research project. The mission funding the EUI grants allowed me to take part in several international conferences, as well as to spend a considerable amount of time researching abroad. Finally, at the EUI I had the opportunity to learn other languages, thanks to the passionate work of the teachers of the Language Centre. The Academic Writers’ groups activities and the training aimed at improving writing and teaching skills organized by the Language Centre expanded tremendously my writing and communication capacities. Last but not least, the stimulating and international working environment represented also the setting for the beginning of many long-lasting friendships. 

Chiara Milan (Ph.D. 2016)

 

Jan KarremansWriting a Ph.D. at the EUI has coincided with the best 5 years of my life and this has definitely not been a coincidence. The EUI has all the ingredients to let its researchers make the most out of their time here and every researcher has the possibility to do so in his/her own particular way. For me, this has meant combining my doctoral studies with many sports and cultural activities, which enriched my life enormously, without ever hindering the progress of my thesis. In the meantime, I had the opportunity to attend some of the best conferences and workshops in my discipline and thereby to greatly broaden my professional networks, both in Europe and outside. In sum, I will always remember this institute with great enthusiasm and I am extremely grateful for the time I have spent here.

Jan Karremans  (Ph.D. 2016)

 

GEREKE, JohannaThinking back to my time as a Ph.D. researcher at the EUI brings back many happy memories. I very much enjoyed being a member of such a diverse and nurturing scholarly community, making wonderful friends from all over Europe who experience with you the ups and downs of conducting independent research, and the support from faculty and staff that helped me complete my Ph.D. thesis in the smoothest manner possible. I could not have imagined a better environment in which to spend these past four years and I always look forward to coming back to Florence!

Johanna Gereke (Ph.D. 2016)

 

 

SchöllerI can hardly imagine a better place to write a doctoral thesis than the EUI. This unique institute offers manifold opportunities to its Ph.D. researchers. Most importantly, the EUI allowed me to take part in a multitude of academic events representing the state of the art in my discipline, and enabled me to build up an international network with many experts in my field. In this way, the EUI also serves as a door opener to the international job-market.

Magnus Gregor Schöller (Ph.D. 2016)

 

 

ComolliMy experience as a doctoral student at the Political and Social Sciences Department at the European University Institute in Florence has been undoubtedly enriching, in all respects. Joining the EUI means becoming part of an international community of researchers and scholars linked by a passion for knowledge. At the EUI our motivation to learn grows and we are professionally enhanced by the community of students, professors and visiting fellows placed at the EUI and with whom we are in close proximity through the numerous academic activities organized at the Institute. At the EUI I learned that writing a Ph.D. dissertation, as well as being a researcher, is a collective endeavour. As an alumna of the EUI, I am proud of being part of this international and vibrant community of researchers.

Chiara Comolli (Ph.D. 2016)

Benedetta CottaWriting a Ph.D. in the Political and Social Sciences Department has been a truly unforgettable experience for me. Growing up and completing part of my undergraduate studies in Florence, I already knew the European University Institute by name. Still, it wasn’t until the moment I started my Ph.D. there that I understood the real value of doing research in a highly specialised, multinational institution of such magnitude. The seminars offered by my Department, the fabulous opportunities to brainstorm with my professors and colleagues have truly broadened by academic horizons and provided me with invaluable tools and bright ideas for my research. Moreover, thanks to EUI funding, it had been made possible for me to carry out an extensive amount of fieldwork in various European research centres and universities, to present my research at international conferences and workshops, as well as to attend excellent language and methodology courses. My time at the EUI had been a truly unique period in my life: apart from the wealth of opportunities to hone my academic skills, it was an exceptional multicultural experience that had created a strong foundation for many lasting friendships.

Benedetta Cotta (Ph.D. 2016)

 

Joseph LaceDoing a Ph.D. at the EUI surpassed what were already my high expectations. While you are expected to start work on refining your Ph.D. topic from day one, the first two years involve course work that will not only broaden your knowledge base but also allow you to refine skills that are directly relevant to your project. At the EUI, you will not only have full access to the faculty who are generous with their time, but also the continuous stream of academics that come through the Robert Schuman Centre and the Max Weber Programme for research stays or post-doctoral work. Researching in the hills of San Domenico at the EUI’s incredibly well-stocked library, overlooking Florence city centre just a 20-minute bus ride away, is what I would describe as the ideal working environment. Take a break and you are guaranteed to meet friends, who happen to be from all over the world, talking in the corridors, reading in the garden or having a coffee on the terrace.

Joseph Lacey (Ph.D. 2015)

Milena TripkovicBy offering me a place in the Ph.D. programme, the European University Institute has provided me with an opportunity to experience a truly unique academic journey. As a lawyer in the Department of Political and Social Sciences, my initial sentiment of being out of familiar context was soon replaced by admiration for the variety of fields that one can engage with at the EUI. In no other academic institution would I have been so encouraged and supported to write a truly interdisciplinary thesis, which combines law, political science, criminology and political theory. And even if the quality of one’s research ultimately depends on individual abilities, being at the EUI provides a sense of comfort in knowing that every thought and idea can be discussed from so many different perspectives. 

Milena Tripković (Ph.D. 2014)

Alexander StummvollJoining the EUI’s doctoral research programme was one of the best decisions of my life. Becoming part a vibrant research community, engaging with fascinating people from around the world, and having the guidance of approachable professors: you cannot wish for more! Even though I did not work on Italian issues but on the Vatican and the Catholic Church, being embedded in Italian culture, language, and cuisine obviously was a major advantage too. As I also belong to the growing club of researchers who met their future spouse at the EUI’s (in)famous Bar Fiasco I can say: My time at the EUI was truly life-changing – both academically, professionally, and personally! 

Alexander Stummvoll (Ph.D. 2012)

Yves PetersDoing a Ph.D. at the European University Institute is an incredible experience. Having so many nationalities in one place, with so many different backgrounds and approaches—all working on their doctoral thesis or post-doctoral projects—makes for such a valuable academic environment. The professors are often leading scholars in their respective fields, and their training and supervision of EUI researchers is of the highest standard. The fact that you can discuss your research just like that, over lunch or over a beer, makes for an amazing situation and Ph.D. experience, both in terms of the quality of research and social interactions. The EUI library provides the researchers with a wealth of resources making it difficult to get used to the lower standard of many other places. This all is set in a fantastic location, overlooking the Tuscan hills, offering great food, coffee, wine, and ice-cream. Ironically, one only realises the academic strength of the EUI in full once the Ph.D. is concluded. While the experience is incredible at that time, a lot of its value becomes clear when you realise the scholarly network that you suddenly have, as well as the comparative academic advantage you have over those who did not go to the EUI. If I could do a second Ph.D. at the EUI, I would not hesitate in doing so.

Yvette Peters (Ph.D. 2011)

 

Julia Hermann

Writing a doctoral thesis at the EUI is no doubt a unique experience. Studying together with interesting and highly motivated people from all over Europe (and beyond), having academic discussions while enjoying delicious Italian food on the mensa-terrace with a breathtaking view over Florence, looking into the Tuscan hills, the cyprusses and olive trees, while racking one’s brain trying to solve a theoretical problem, having a picnic in the library garden, rowing on the Arno, exploring the Tuscan countryside – the combination of all this forms an unforgettable experience which culminates in the defence of a Ph.D.-thesis. At the EUI, on the hills above Florence, I grew academically, made long-lasting friendships and found the love of my life.

Julia Hermann (Ph.D. 2011)

Mi Ah SchøyenThe European University Institute is a highly inspiring place that provides you with a setting that gives you every opportunity to grow both intellectually and at the personal level. I have sometimes been asked whether I would make the same decision again, to join the EUI, if I could turn the clock back. To me that's an easy question. Moving to Florence was a decision that I never regretted. The combination of a high class faculty, a rich programme of academic seminars, workshops and lectures that give you methodological skills and substantive insights, together with outstanding supporting facilities (such as the library, administrative staff, the language centre) make an excellent offer. What is more, with so many nationalities represented, the EUI is a great place to learn about cultural differences and make lifetime friends regardless of national boundaries. In addition, Florence obviously has a lot to offer beyond the EUI and is well worth taking some time out to explore.

Mi Ah Schøyen (Ph.D. 2011)

Sergi Pardos-Prado

A Ph.D. programme at the European University Institute can become a deep intellectual and human experience. The diversity of native languages, cultural backgrounds, and past personal experiences makes the EUI a true sociological laboratory. Apart from strong academic training and opportunities, the EUI can certainly provide an inspiring and unique human setting that I will never forget.

Sergi Pardos-Prado (Ph.D. 2010)

 

AnnaSobczakHaving done my Ph.D. research at the European University Institute has been a real privilege for me. During my years at Badia Fiesolana, every day I was surrounded by great international minds in an intellectually stimulating environment on a Tuscan hill overlooking Florence. These times offered me incredibly memorable experience that not only enriched me with the necessary skills for my current position at the European Commission but also provided me with valuable personal contacts at universities and international organisations around the world that will last a lifetime.  


Anna Sobczak (Ph.D. 2010)

Kaat SMETSAfter visiting various academic institutions in  Europe and North America, I have fully come to grasp the remarkable nature of the European University Institute. It's unique international environment does not only provide one with the opportunity to get to know scholars from all over the world, subconsciously you also learn about academic and cultural differences through colleagues that practically come from all over the world. When at the EUI it is hard not to get hit by the research-vibe. There is always an interesting talk or workshop to attend. Moreover, the culture of constructive discussion makes that the EUI is a place where you can discover your best inner researcher. All of these features are topped by an excellent library, helpful and friendly staff, beautiful surroundings, and the opportunity to live in Italy the country of outstanding coffee, food, wine, and - for large parts of the year - beautiful weather. I would not hesitate at all if I had to make the choice to pursue my PhD at the EUI once more.

Kaat Smets (Ph.D. 2010)

Dorota Szelewa

Coming to the EUI was one of the best decisions of my life and I am grateful for having had this chance to join the Department of Political and  Social Science as a PhD researcher. I was amazed by the beauty of Tuscany and I never stopped appreciating it. But most importantly, I had an absolutely unique opportunity to receive training and intellectual stimulus from great academics. The scholarly exchange between researchers and professors from different policy fields builds an interdisciplinary approach to research. Thanks to that I managed not to close within one policy area, but I learned how to discuss many different aspects of studying social phenomena. The mode of academic exchange and the level of excellence have become blueprints for my further academic work. Since I left Florence and moved on with my career, I have always been asking myself this question: how would you do it if you were at the EUI?

Dorota Szelewa (Ph.D. 2009)

Igor Abdalla Medina de SouzaThe years of my Ph.D. at the EUI are simply unforgettable. The Department of Political and Social Sciences provides a unique environment on both intellectual and personal grounds. In fact, we not only have the opportunity to be in touch with leading professors in our field, but also the administrative staff and doctoral candidates are interesting people from which we can draw a very rich experience.

Igor Abdalla Medina de Souza (Ph.D 2010)

Christian ThauerThe EUI is a truly exciting place: intellectually stimulating, culturally diverse and  interdisciplinary. I can think of no better place to do a Ph.D in terms of supervision, support and academic life. As I have experienced recently, having a Ph.D from the EUI is also helpful for succeeding on the academic job market. The Institute is known to be one of the leading academic social science institutions in Europe.

Christian Thauer (Ph.D 2010)

Tim Peace

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the EUI and can't think of a better place to write a Ph.D thesis. Being part of the largest doctoral programme in Europe means that you can interact with and count on the support of many other fellow researchers, some of whom will become your lifetime friends. The institution affords the opportunity to come into contact with world class academics, whether they be permanent faculty, visiting scholars or simply passing through for the many lectures, workshops and conferences that regularly take place. The intellectual stimulation of the EUI and its beautiful setting coupled with the cultural opportunities of living in Florence make for a truly unforgettable. experience.

Timothy Peace (Ph.D 2010)

Eva AnduizaThe EUI experience certainly counts as one of the best in my life. The challenging intellectual atmosphere, its multicultural and interdisciplinary character, and above all the quality, both human and professional, of the staff and researchers, have left a lasting impression on my academic career. 

Eva Anduiza (Ph.D. 1997)

Olaf OsicaThe  EUI doctoral programme exceeded my expectations. I was prepared for just a comfortable place to write my Ph.D. in the middle of lovely Tuscan landscapes. With the passing of time, however, I discovered EUI as a unique place where the art of studying and the way of living merge into a great life experience one can profit from through the entire professional career.

Olaf Osica (Ph.D. 2007)

AmyVerdunDoing my Ph.D. in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the EUI was rewarding in every possible. I enjoyed the fact I could work with leading scholars in the field, do fieldwork for my doctoral studies, and attend courses that provided an excellent basis for my Ph.D. thesis and indeed the rest of my career. The EUI offers not just an excellent doctoral programme but also a terrific place to be a postdoctoral fellow or visiting fellow as I experienced during the times I returned after I graduated. Having the opportunity to mingle with students from all over Europe and with scholars from all over the world has been tremendously important to me. As such it offers a scholarly place for the best and the brightest and hence creates a terrific network of students and scholars that extends well beyond one’s time at the EUI. I could think of no better place to do a doctorate, or spend some time as a postdoctoral fellow or visiting professor.

Amy Verdun (Ph.D. 1995)

ThomasPoguntkeWhenever I go to a major international conference in my field it seems that about half of the people in the room have been at the EUI either as researchers, fellows or faculty. What more can you say to show that the EUI is simply one of the leading institutions in its field.

Thomas Poguntke (Ph.D. 1989)

 

Page last updated on 17 July 2017