By Gan Kyaw
Dear readers, we’re back!!! This time we are going to meet another winner of the Erasmus Mundus Schoarship for our Euroculture program. Are you ready to listen to the inspiring story and suggestions made by the scholarship winner? If so, let me welcome Mario from Egypt to our interview.
Mario Mikhail, another Euroculture Scholarship Winner
Mario Mikhail holds a double bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the British University in Egypt and London South Bank University. After graduation, he started working as a political/human rights researcher and writer at the Development, Advocacy and Media Center-(DAM)/Masr 360. Also, he has academic publications in political theory. He is currently in his second semester at the University of Groningen.
In this interview, the Euroculturer asked what motivated him to apply for the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship, what was his experience at the first and second semester universities as well as tips and tricks for future applicants.
The Euroculturer: What motivated you to apply for this scholarship?
Mario: There are many reasons that motivated me to apply to Euroculture. First, the content of the program. I’m interested in European Studies and I’m also interested in Sociology and Cultural studies. So Euroculture combined all my interests in one Master’s program. Most of the Master’s programs in European Studies take a Political Science/International relations approach but I found that Euroculture is one of the few programs that approaches European Studies from diverse interdisciplinary perspectives.
Another motivation for me was definitely the mobility aspect. The Erasmus Mundus Scholarship gives the opportunity to the recipients to experience different European cultures and universities during the studies. I believe that this unique experience does not only enrich the recipient’s knowledge about Europe but also the individual’s personal life. And I found that Euroculture in particular has even greater mobility compared to other Erasmus Mundus programs.
Finally, the Erasmus Mundus Scholarships are extremely prestigious and the universities involved in Euroculture are also very prestigious, which made Euroculture exceptionally appealing to me.
First and Second Semester Universities
Mario spent his first semester at the University of Udine (Italy); he is currently studying at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands in the second semester.
First Semester Experience: Udine
“FLEXIBLE ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT”
“What I noticed is that there is flexibility in the academic environment in Udine. Each professor had their own style of teaching and assessments which made each course different from the other, not just in terms of content but also the delivery. This academic approach allowed me to learn from the special expertise of each professor.” – Mario.
The Euroculturer: What is the focus of the courses in Udine?
Mario: Well, the courses in the first semester gave me an overview of Europe from the perspectives of various disciplines such as politics, law, history and even cinema. So the courses in Udine gave me a general multidisciplinary perspective on Europe.
“A CHANCE TO TRY ITALIAN DISHES”
The Euroculturer: What about the lifestyle? Did you enjoy Udine?
Mario: Regarding the lifestyle, Udine was an ideal place to experience Italian culture and food, particularly in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. Studying in Udine was also a great opportunity to discover and learn about other regions and cities in italy.
Second Semester Experience: Groningen
“WELL-STRUCTURED ACADEMIC CULTURE”
Mario thinks that the academic culture in Groningen is very structured and organized. According to him, the courses are extremely thought-provoking, and interdisciplinary which is very beneficial. It is the courses at RUG which provide him with an in-depth understanding about conducting research and several key concepts related to Sociology, Cultural studies and Politics.
“EASY COMMUNICATION IN GRONINGEN”
The Euroculturer: So how do you like Groningen so far?
Mario: Groningen is a vibrant international student city so there is lots of diversity. I meet people from all around the world everywhere so I’m getting the chance to learn about different cultures, not just the Dutch. It is a rare opportunity to encounter such diversity in one place. Also, almost everyone here speaks English which makes communicating with people much easier.
Preparation for the Scholarship Application
We also asked how Mario prepared his application to win the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship.
He always makes sure that he follows the required format for the CV. “Most Erasmus applications for example require a Europass CV”, said Mario.
The Euroculturer: Could you share some tips for writing the motivation letter?
Mario: I try not to simply repeat the information that I already stated in the CV. I try to complement and explain my CV. In the motivational letter, I write the details in an informative and concise way that are not mentioned in the CV.
Mario: I also try to make the motivation letter as professional as possible but also personal. I think that balancing between the two is the challenging part of writing a good motivational letter.
The Euroculturer: In your opinion, which factors secured your place for this scholarship?
Mario: It’s hard to tell which factors are the most relevant but it could be a combination of different factors. I received high grades in my Bachelor’s degree, I was one of the top students in my class and my Bachelor’s dissertation was awarded the best dissertation that year.
I think that having academic publications in political theory also helped a lot because I have a published paper in an academic journal and a book chapter coming out soon.
Also, having professional experience after graduation and writing articles on sociopolitical issues and human rights may have been another supplementary factor.
Advice and Suggestions for Future Applicants
“My advice to potential applicants is to start preparing for the scholarship as early as possible by studying, improving your skills and doing extracurricular activities or work that is relevant to the program. Because the Erasmus Mundus scholarships are very competitive so your application has to stand out. It’s also important to remember that you should not get discouraged by rejections. Because you could get rejected the first time or even a few times you apply. You should keep trying and improving your resume until you finally succeed in securing the scholarship” – Mario.
At the end of the interview, the scholarship winner talked a little bit about his plans.
“In the third semester, I am following the research track, preferably at the University of Groningen or at the Uppsala University” – Mario.
After attaining his MA Euroculture degree, he is going to study a PhD in Sociology or a related discipline. In the future, he is planning to pursue a career in academia.
The Euroculturer would like to say thanks to Mario Mikhail for his time to share his experience and advice. We wish him all the best for his ongoing academic journey.
If you have further questions concerning the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship for the Euroculture program, have a look at the official website of the program, and feel free to reach out to the Euroculturer.
Thank you so much for reading this interview. If you want to keep in touch with the Euroculture community, please kindly sign up to our newsletter. We will be coming back with another scholarship winner in the next interview.