I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. I obtained my Ph.D. in social sciences in 2017. My work is in the areas of social epidemiology, demography, and medical sociology. I can recommend the EUI to those who would like to do their PhD as their own project instead of working on a project of someone else. In my experience, most of all, the EUI gives you freedom to follow your own ideas in a unique environment.
In particular, your supervisor is not your employer, but an advisor. This creates room for a less hierarchical relationship, but instead for a more collegial relationship. As a result, your supervisor is mainly supporting you to develop and structure your own research in a general way; she/he does not tell you what to do. Moreover, the EUI supports long-term visits abroad giving you an opportunity to improve your network and encounter scholars who are more specialized in your particular topic. I applied with my own subject, and gained my Ph.D. thesis without major problems. During this, I spent a lot of time at the University of Amsterdam, where there were more scholars with whom I could work directly on my topic. After my Ph.D. I received a three-year long postdoc appointment there.
Apart from professional benefits, I gained unique life time experience at the EUI. Not only did I have a chance to live in one of the most beautiful cities, but also to make friends with people from all over the world. The EUI is a very special place in this regard. About 200 new Ph.D. students from different countries arrive every year. In the beginning of the year the EUI organizes a lot of social events at which people can get to know each other. In my cohort, after a few weeks everybody had his own small social circle. Many find also their partner at the EUI. This happened to four friends of mine. Now each of these “EUI couples” have children. I am still regularly in touch with my close friends from the EUI even though we all live in different countries.
Overall, the EUI is a good place for those who have their own ideas and are able to work independently and who would enjoy an international environment in a beautiful city.
Liliya Leopold (Ph.D. 2017)