Lena Fassali is one of our students at The Executive Master’s Progamme in European Studies (EMAES). She works as a Reporting Officer at the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia and she expects to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of European politics, with a focus on conflict and cooperation within the EU.
What made you interested in an executive Master’s programme?
‘I believe strongly in life-long learning: New experiences in life give new inspiration to learn more in various fields. I have always been interested in politics, history and philosophy, but it wasn’t until I had worked with Europe-related issues for a while that felt a strong desire to study Europe specifically from different perspectives. Because of my job, it felt like I knew only one small piece of a big puzzle – the EU’s relations with neighbouring areas to the east – but I wanted to understand how the entire puzzle fits together. I also wanted to gain even better tools to continue working with issues related to the EU’s relations with the rest of the world. I realised that the best strategy would be to enrol in a high-quality executive Master’s programme with a focus on European studies.’
What was it in the design of the EMAES programme that made you interested in applying?
‘It’s very important to me that the EMAES programme is designed so that the students can complete it alongside their professional careers. This is an advantage not only from a practical perspective but also for me as a student: Since Europe is a theme that permeates also my professional life, these two parts of my life benefit each other. Another thing that I saw as attractive was the fact that the Centre for European Studies at the University of Gothenburg has clear links to both the professional sector and cutting-edge international research via for example REGU (the Council for European Studies at University of Gothenburg).’
How do you think the EMAES programme will benefit you as a professional and at a personal level?
‘I expect to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of European politics, with a focus on conflict and cooperation within the EU. Within the framework of the Master’s thesis, I hope to be able to specialise in issues related to crisis management, peace and security, with a particular emphasis on gender perspectives. The goal is for this new knowledge to open doors to future work involving planning of the EU’s international contributions around the world.’
If you were to encourage somebody to apply to the EMAES programme, which attractive/strong features would you emphasise?
‘The EMAES programme benefits from incredibly knowledgeable and engaged teachers who are great at utilising the students’ various professional backgrounds. I have learned a lot from just listening to my classmates sharing their experiences! In addition, the teaching is well grounded in the instructors’ respective research domains. Another good thing is that the programme integrates the studied topics and a scientific approach in a creative way.’
At this point, a little over one semester into the programme, in what ways does the EMAES programme meet your expectations? And how has it exceeded your expectations?
‘The programme has given me an entirely new understanding of the historical context of the European cooperation. The background to many of the issues discussed today has become much clearer to me. For example, today when I listen to political statements related to EU issues, I hear entirely new things since I have become able to distinguish their ideological and historical roots in a new way. Academically, I also appreciate that we from day one were encouraged to think about our upcoming Master’s project and what issues we want to focus on. This helps us reflect and focus. Finally, I also have to mention that the great team spirit and wide span of knowledge and experiences among the course participants are great assets of the EMAES programme.’
What advice would you give somebody who is starting the EMAES programme next autumn and wants to get the most out of it?
‘The most important advice is: Plan your time well! The programme is offered on a half-time basis and it is necessary to be continuously active in for example discussions and group assignments. Get the course literature as early as possible, since it helps you use your time in the best way possible. Also think about how your job relates to European issues: Is there a certain topic you deal with at work that you would like to write about, or even do research on?’
If you were to advise somebody you know to apply to the EMAES programme because of his or her traits as a professional, what would such traits be?
‘I would recommend the EMAES programme to people who are goal oriented, strongly engaged in their work and interested in broadening their horizons. As for educational and professional background, I would happily recommend the programme to people with all kinds of backgrounds, since the great diversity in perspectives on European issues is one of the programme’s strongest assets.’
Education: Bachelor’s in Political Science and Master’s in Modern Hebrew.
Works as: Reporting Officer at the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia.
In five years: Will be planning international EU contributions