Interview conducted by Johanna Pieper
Stanislava Milankov (2019-2021) is from Serbia and before starting Euroculture, she graduated with a Bachelor in Sociology from the University of Novi Sad, Serbia. She applied for Euroculture because she wanted to deepen her knowledge in European affairs and gain professional experience within the EU through the professional track. Stanislava spent her first semester in Göttingen, Germany, and the second one in Udine, Italy. She is currently in Brussels, Belgium, doing an internship at the Assembly of European Regions.
EM: What were your expectations when you applied/started the Euroculture MA and does it match the reality at the moment?
Stanislava Milankov: I expected to learn more about Europe from a political, societal and cultural perspective, to find internships which would help my professional development, to gain intercultural experience and meet people from all walks of life and, last but not least, to find new friends. All expectations have been fulfilled for now.
EM: Can you tell us more about your IP paper and the overall topic of the IP 2019/2020 ? How did you manage to find a suitable topic?
SM: The overall topic of the IP 2019/2020 was “A sustainable Europe? Society, politics and culture in the Anthropocene”. I wrote a paper as part of the subtheme “democratic sustainability”. Taking into account that there is apparent dichotomy between the European liberal democratic ideals and the actual situation in some member states, like Hungary, and candidate countries, like Serbia, I compared the internal and external perceptions of the EU as an actor that can foster democratic changes.
EM: What was the most difficult thing you encountered during the preparation phase of the IP?
SM: The fact that the second semester took place in online format and that our lives were filled with uncertainty, made writing the IP paper really hard.
EM: How did your second semester university prepare you for the IP? What can your second semester university improve and what should it continue to do regarding the preparation?
SM: The IP preparation held by professor Ilaria Zamburlini in Udine was outstanding. We had a task for every class, for instance making presentations on the article from the IP reader, writing research proposals, abstracts, research designs, first drafts and final drafts.
Everything we wrote was discussed during the classes and we were given feedback by professor Zamburlini and our assigned peer reviewers. Also, as peer reviewers we had to submit weekly reviews of the material our assigned colleague wrote which really improved our reviewing skills. At the end of the semester we had a mock-IP during which we went through every stage of the IP. I think all universities should implement this strategy, since it is really fruitful and makes students feel confident about their work and skills.
EM: Can you tell us more about the evolution of your topic? When did you decide on a topic? Did
you have to switch topics? When did you start writing and when did you finish?
SM: My topic was an extension of a paper on democratic sustainability in Europe which I wrote during the first semester. Since I wanted to research the topic in more depth, I proposed it to the professor Zamburlini who helped me to shape it in a final version. I started writing in April and finished in May.
EM: How did you manage to organize yourself during the second semester? What were your main struggles and challenges?
SM: Like everyone I had a really hard time during the second semester. Even though we had regular online lessons and professors in Udine were really up to the task in that regard, I felt detached from the programme and really demotivated. So I would say that was the main struggle I encountered.
EM: What would you recommend/not recommend to the new Euroculture students?
SM: I am not familiar with the format of classes for the new Euroculture students but I would advise them to be in regular contact with their peers and professors. Also, if they feel stressed, I would advise them to try to find coping mechanisms.For instance, I started doing yoga regularly.
EM: What were your expectations of the online IP? What can the Consortium and students learn
from the online experience?
SM: I didn’t have any particular expectations, honestly. The second semester, which was mainly online, and the whole situation with the COVID-19 back then was quite overwhelming. I think the online format was the best one in the given situation and it was a nice opportunity to discuss topics of interest with the other Euroculture students.
EM: What are your expectations of the « fun » IP in Bilbao 2021?
SM: I am not planning to go since I will do my internship during the face-to-face IP. However, I hope that students who will go have a nice opportunity to network, gain valuable experiences, learn something new, enjoy the beautiful Spanish landscape and party! ☺
EM: Did you decide to extend your IP topic to use it as your master thesis topic? Why?
SM: I won’t extend my IP topic to my master thesis. It was already an extension of a paper I wrote during the first semester, so now I am ready to embark on new research.
EM: Thank you very much for answering these questions! We value your contribution and believe it will be useful for prospective and current Euroculture students!