Liyousew from Ethiopia, Ph.D. student of Economics and Econometrics at CERGE-EI in Prague, shares his study experience!
Photo credit: Liyousew Borga, CERGE-EI
"After completing my MA in Economics from Addis Ababa University, I realized that I want to continue my education at an institution that would give me a basis from which I could reach for international opportunities. I decided to start a PhD in Economics and in search for that, I targeted programs that would provide me with the theoretical and empirical knowledge of modern economics based on strong mathematical background to pursue a career in applied research. My main search criteria were threefold: to get into an institution with full funding, to get the best quality general research training I could, and to graduate from a school with a good track record of student placement. CERGE-EI (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education – Economics Institute, a joint workplace of Charles University and the Economics Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences) ticks all the boxes.
I was happy to find that CERGE-EI offers US & Western Europe style graduate economics education and that the PhD program is accredited both in the Czech Republic and in the U.S. I also learned that the program is rigorous and designed for outstanding students interested in research and academic careers in economics. The alumni profile of CERGE-EI also appealed to me, as graduates have a strong history of finding high-profile, influential positions in government, business, and academia. What attracted me most, however, was the mobility program in which students conduct part of their research at top western universities.
After I was admitted, I was a bit overwhelmed because I was going to a foreign country and I knew that the culture would be vastly different from my own. I was quite wary of the culture shock I might experience. However, my anxiety was short lived and was put to rest as soon as I arrived in Prague. The city is charming and easy to get around; the orientation given by the staff and faculty is thorough, and there are many international and local students ready to help. I was not alone! The program gave me the opportunity to discover a new country at a pace that was comfortable for me.
When I first arrived, I expected to encounter excellent facilities, rich resources, an international community, world-renowned faculty and brilliant students. It didn’t take long before all of my expectations were met and surpassed. The faculty is excellent in teaching and supervising, and highly approachable. They are generous with their personal attention and insightful feedback to students. The Executive and Supervisory Committee of CERGE-EI oversees the academic quality and excellence of the program. Its members are renowned economists including Nobel Laureates Christopher Sims (Princeton University) and Joseph Stiglitz (Columbia University).
I find the overall environment and scholarly culture rewarding and truly inspiring. About 50 research seminars take place each year, where international researchers come to CERGE-EI to present their current research to faculty and students. Many activities are open to the CERGE-EI community. You can participate in project snapshots, you can attend reading groups and brown bag seminars, where students and researchers get informal feedback on their research in progress. I have had informal one-on-one chats with top economists, including Nobel Laureates Finn Kydland and Christopher Sims. As CERGE-EI is a small place, you can meet everyone in person.
The state-of-the art facilities made life easier. The Academic Skills Center offers students support to structure texts, develop and express arguments, and position our work as a contribution to ongoing research and debate in the field. The library provides a rich resource of books, journals, and databases and is considered the best economics library in Central and Eastern Europe.
During my doctoral studies, I spent one semester at the Industrial Relations Section of Princeton University as a Visiting Student Research Collaborator (sponsored by Prof. Alan Krueger). It was a rewarding experience in that the excellent facilities, rich resources, revered faculty and brilliant students all opened my eyes to the overall environment and scholarly culture that a big institution offers.
I am now close to finishing my PhD study. I am thankful that I chose to come here, and I believe that my stay here was quite fruitful. I have felt inspired by the success of most, aided by the resources availed, energized by the majesty and beauty of Prague, entertained by the countless fun events – all in the company of wonderful students, faculty, and staff whose hope, experience and support is an education by itself."