We continue the rubric with stories of our graduates. Today we are publishing a review by Lyubov Chernysheva, a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. We recently congratulated her on defending her Ph.D. thesis “Digital Transformation of Neighboring Urban Communities (St. Petersburg, Russia case study)”.
— I studied at the European University from 2014 to 2019, first in the master's program, and then in the PhD program. I wanted to enter the Faculty of Sociology (at that time it was called the Faculty of Political Sciences and Sociology) when I was in my third year of undergraduate studies. I heard from friends that it would be difficult, but worth it. Although I tend to shy away from difficulties, the desire to understand the discipline, which was just beginning to open up for me in my undergraduate studies, outweighed the fear.
Getting in was hard. There were legends about the entrance interview; people said that everyone comes out of there in tears and with a feeling of complete failure. But then they find their names on the list of accepted applicants. My interview went surprisingly well, albeit nervously. I did not feel like crying, and I took that as an omen: there was no chance I’d be accepted. Fortunately, I turned out to be wrong.
From that moment began some of the best years of my life. I was surprised at how much my classmates were like me: we all really treated our classes very seriously; nobody was interested hack work or trying to lounge around for a couple easy years to get a diploma. And how different they were from me: different backgrounds, interests, ways of seeing, noticing and thinking. We had a difficult and wonderful experience together and were very supportive of each other.
At EUSP you have the freedom to choose your courses, and it is also possible to take courses at other faculties, which I did. There were a lot of activities. Truth be told, they often took up almost all my time, leaving me with no free time at all. I had to learn how to read quickly (in English - at first it was very difficult for me), analyze and write a lot. But I got incredible pleasure from the comfortable classroom atmosphere, where you weren’t scared to say what you think, and where it was incredibly interesting to listen to others. I also derived an enormous amount from the constant exchange of ideas, the discussion of our readings, the thoughtful conversations, the constructive criticism and the advice in seminars. I fell in love with reading, and learned to read critically. I still use the skills that I developed while studying at EUSP.
When I studied for a bachelor's degree at another university, too often it seemed to me that everything that was happening was not serious and was happening for show. I wrote, as it were, "course papers", and the teachers, as it were, "checked" them. It often seemed that this work was meaningless and of no use to anyone.
At EUSP, I discovered that you can study without the quibble marks. I was surprised that teachers and my classmates could really be interested in what I wrote in my essays. And they were ready to help turn term papers into real serious texts that you wouldn’t be ashamed to publish. This was extremely valuable.
After my master's degree, I wanted to continue working with EUSP faculty on my dissertation, so I enrolled in a PhD program at EUSP. A year later I enrolled at the University of Amsterdam, where I am currently finishing my dissertation. It's a bit sad that I don't have such close connections with EUSP anymore. I’m not up on the latest news and don't go to events. But I still remain involved in the community formed around the university. And when I meet EU alumni, I seem to be automatically imbued with respect and a sense of closeness because we’ve had a common experience.
If you really want to study, if you are ready to spend a lot of time and get very tired, make mistakes and get useful feedback, and communicate with the best specialists and be part of the community, I recommend you enroll at the Faculty of Sociology at EUSP.