My Third Semester: Research Track at Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic (2017-2019)

Interview conducted by Ivana Putri

Maeva Chargros is a French Euroculture student who spent her first and second semesters in Olomouc, Czech Republic and Krakow, Poland, respectively. Having previously studied within programs that take on a multidisciplinary approach, Maeva decided to apply for Euroculture as it offered her the opportunity to dive back into literature, history, and languages (as she did in her BA) without losing the interdisciplinary approach. She has a background in Nordic Studies, and professional experience in digital communications as well as public relations (PR). For her third semester, she went back to Olomouc to do the research track.
Thanks Maeva for taking the time to share your experience!

1. Why did you decide to do research?

Honestly, I just wanted to keep digging into my thesis topic. I was foolish enough to pick a topic I knew barely nothing about, in a field I was not exactly familiar with, so I realised I had to work on my background knowledge as much as I could, and the research track was the best option for this. Also, since I’ve already worked, I did not feel like I would be learning anything tremendously stimulating – quite the opposite of a research track where I’d be learning a lot every day on various topics. Perhaps the comfort of going back to Olomouc – a city I really enjoy to live in – was also part of my choice, but shhh, it’s not supposed to be that important, right…?

2. Tell us what you were doing at Olomouc!

In Olomouc, the research track consists of taking elective courses up to 25 ECTS. You’re absolutely free to choose courses in all departments and faculties, which is great since the offer of English-taught courses covers all fields, here. In my case, I picked courses mainly related to history (Medieval, Early Modern and Modern periods). I also had a rather rare opportunity within Euroculture: meeting one of my supervisors during the 3rd semester already! It seems like a detail, but if the supervisor is actively involved, it turns out to be a highly valuable bonus – which is my case. However, this should not determine your choice of 3rd semester research track location, of course.

3. What were your expectations of the research track and how did it match with the reality?

I was perhaps expecting it to be more “personalised”, so that it would fit with my thesis topic a little bit more. For instance, the language course was probably the most important and relevant course I should have been able to follow throughout the whole semester, but due to the other courses, I had to make it my last priority. It is not included in the 25 ECTS, unfortunately. Also, I had very little time to focus on my research for the thesis, which I thought would be part of the perks of choosing a research track – having more time to dive into your own topic, or another researcher’s topic. The great thing was that one of the courses I took was perfectly fit for MA level students, oriented towards research. With just this one course, I had a glimpse of what it means to conduct historical research.

4. What are the major differences between studying in the first and second semesters compared to the research semester?

More workload. In the case of Olomouc, you might expect a similar workload as 1st or 2nd semester… the truth is, since you’re on average taking 5 courses, outside of the Euroculture programme, and with different teachers/students… things are completely different. Not saying I did not enjoy it, it was actually good for me to see what’s life outside the Euroculture bubble in this university!
Less social life? Of course that’s more up to yourself, but you might want to know you won’t be in a group/team atmosphere as you were in the 1st and 2nd semesters.

5. Any tips for fellow Euroculture students who might want to do research in this field and/or at this university?

If you want to dive into a specific topic covered by the courses offered at the university, that’s the right place to pick. If you want to get more research experience and see what it means to be a researcher, Olomouc might not be the best option you have within the consortium…

6. Anything else?

In the end, all options on the table are great and you’ll learn something from each of them. The question you have to ask yourself is: technically, what do I really (like really) need most, right now? Research experience? Background knowledge for your thesis research? Networking opportunities? Work experience? Discovering a new country/continent? The amazing part of Euroculture is that it provides you with everything. The challenging part is that it’s all up to you – though you’ll find precious help within the Euroculture teams.

Featured picture: ©2017, MEU Tallinn (MTÜ BETA Eesti).

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