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"I was looking at a big change, but I was curious"

About

I am 30 years old and of Vojvodinian (Serbian) origin. I obtained both my law degree and my master's degree at the University of Novi Sad Faculty of Law. I first heard about the CEA International Comparative Law Program from my supervisor in November 2021 while preparing to defend my master's thesis in civil law, which I successfully accomplished in December.

How was the application process?

I gave my final decision to my supervisor in January, expressing my desire to participate in the program. Deciding wasn't easy as I was facing a significant change, but curiosity drove me. During my master's program, I specialized in pledge agreements, and for the application, I wanted to continue with a topic in the field of obligations and contract law, leading me to choose the validity of contracts. My former mentor, who became my supervisor again after my master's program, assisted me with the application process. First, we had to prepare a motivation letter and a research plan with the suggested bibliography, which we submitted along with the other required documents for review. This was followed by a series of oral interviews. These were pleasant, informal discussions with the administration and the admissions committee about our chosen topics, plans, and ideas. In June, the Academy organized an open day in Budapest, where we got a brief insight into the Academy's life and the training program. At the end of August, we celebrated our successful admission and got to know the students from the previous year during a freshman camp. The work officially began in early September.

How did the move go?

The move to Budapest was both exciting and challenging. I had to plan everything meticulously, from finding accommodation to packing up my belongings. Since I was facing a significant change, I prepared all the necessary documents and personal items well in advance. The support from my friends and family was invaluable during this period—they helped with packing, logistics, and provided moral support, which made the process smoother.

Upon arriving in Budapest, it took some time to get used to the new environment. I familiarized myself with the neighbourhood, local amenities, and university facilities. The friendly atmosphere of the Academy, along with the assistance from the administration and fellow students, greatly contributed to making the transition seamless.

Where do you see yourself in a few years' time and how will CEA help you on your way?

Where do you see yourself in a few years and how does the CEA help you on that path? In the coming years, I envision myself as a legal professional specializing in contract law and international comparative law. My goal is to work in an international law firm or organization where I can utilize the knowledge I have acquired here. Additionally, I aim to contribute to academic research. The Academy is crucial for achieving these goals. The detailed curriculum and exposure to international legal perspectives provide a deeper insight into the field of international comparative law. Furthermore, the CEA's support in research initiatives and emphasis on critical thinking and analytical skills also help me successfully achieve my goals.

Was there anything you were worried about before you came here?

Yes, of course, I had concerns and doubts before coming. Firstly, I was worried about adapting to the new environment, as this was a significant change in my life. Then there were general doubts about whether I would succeed in my studies and integrate into the new community. However, based on my previous experiences, these fears soon subsided, and the friendly atmosphere of the Academy and the supportive community helped me overcome these concerns.

How is everyday life at the academy?

Daily life at the academy is diverse and inspiring. During the academic period, my days usually revolve around lectures, conferences, and research work. These activities allow me to delve into various topics and actively participate in discussions. Additionally, there are various learning opportunities and resources available that help me develop both professionally and personally.

The social life at the academy is also extremely rich. Numerous events and workshops provide opportunities to establish professional connections and learn about different cultures. Furthermore, friendships and collaborations among students play a significant role in our lives, contributing to the creation of a positive and supportive environment.

How supportive is the CEA in professional terms?

CEA provides excellent professional support to its participants. As part of the program, I have the opportunity to attend lectures, workshops, and conferences where I can meet renowned experts and build connections. Additionally, CEA offers numerous opportunities to participate in research projects and prepare publications, which contribute to my professional development and expertise.

The mentoring and advisory services provided within the program assist me in effectively navigating the challenges that arise in my legal career. Furthermore, CEA provides a wide network that enables networking and collaboration with other legal professionals and institutions worldwide. Overall, it can be said that CEA provides a highly supportive professional environment for participants, helping them succeed in their legal careers.

How can you also do research?

The Academy offers a wide range of opportunities for research. CEA helps me connect with other researchers and professionals in my field. This creates opportunities for collaboration and knowledge exchange, which can further enrich my research. Additionally, it provides further opportunities in the form of shorter research trips, where we can visit abroad and conduct research in the world's best libraries. These trips provide an opportunity to delve even deeper into our research areas and access unique sources and literature. Furthermore, it allows us to build relationships and exchange experiences with other researchers and professionals worldwide, which can further enrich our research and contribute to our professional development.

What other opportunities does CEA offer?

CEA provides opportunities to participate in foreign study trips, where we can learn about the functioning of different legal systems and study cultural differences. Additionally, we have the opportunity to participate in summer universities. These programs usually offer intensive courses in various legal areas, allowing participants to delve into a specific topic and receive expert guidance on the latest developments and trends. Summer university programs provide an ideal opportunity to expand professional knowledge and build international relationships with other law students and professionals. Thus, they contribute to the professional development and international experience of participants.

How do you like living in Budapest?

The city's rich historical past, stunning architectural heritage, and vibrant cultural life create a place where we can always discover and experience new things.

The lively downtown offers numerous opportunities for entertainment, where we can taste delicious foods and drinks in restaurants and cafes, as well as shop in trendy stores and markets. Walking or cruising along the Danube River offers breath-taking views, admiring iconic buildings such as the Parliament or the Chain Bridge. Living in Budapest also means being part of the bustling nightlife, where many clubs, bars, and events await. Additionally, the city's parks and green areas are perfect for relaxation and enjoying the closeness to nature. Overall, living in Budapest is an exciting and diverse experience where history and modernity converge, and there are always new things to discover and experience.

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years time?

In five to ten years, I envision myself as a dedicated legal professional whose work has a significant impact on people's lives and society as a whole. Hopefully, I will be working in a legal position where I have the opportunity to assist clients and contribute to the pursuit of justice. Additionally, I will continue to strive for professional development and seek out new challenges to grow both professionally and personally. Overall, my goal is to create value in the legal profession and contribute to the development of my community.

To whom would you recommend the CEA programme?

I would recommend the CEA program to those who are interested in the legal field and want to gain deeper knowledge in international law and comparative law. It can be an ideal choice for those who are ambitious and open to new challenges and wish to participate in a program that offers opportunities for professional development and building international connections. Additionally, the program is suitable for those interested in legal research and looking to enhance their analytical and critical thinking skills in this field. The CEA program can be an excellent choice for law students, recent graduates, and experienced legal professionals alike, who aim to broaden their professional horizons and are committed to advancing towards a successful legal career.

Is it a disadvantage that the institution is so young?

Not necessarily. Although the institution is young, programs of this kind are generally created and led by professionals with extensive experience in the field. Additionally, young institutions are often more flexible and open to innovation and new ideas, which can provide opportunities for the development and offering of new and fresh perspective programs.

What has been the best experience for you at CEA so far?

One of my best experiences at CEA was Jeffrey Bossert Clark's lecture in the spring of 2023. Jeffrey Bossert Clark is an American lawyer who served as Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division from 2018 to 2021. In September 2020, he was also appointed acting head of the Civil Division. He spoke about the American litigation process, providing a detailed overview of the structure and functioning of the judicial system. He outlined the various stages of the proceedings, the rights and obligations of the parties, as well as the temporal and procedural characteristics of the proceedings. Additionally, he presented interesting case laws that served as examples of the application of legal principles and precedents in practice. This lecture helped me better understand the operation and application of the American legal system in real life.

What is your message to future juniors?

My message to future Juniors is to dare to dream big and step out of their comfort zone. Be open to new experiences and challenges and keep perseverance and commitment in mind when striving for their goals. It's important to learn from failures and build on successes. Stay curious and always keep learning, and don't hesitate to ask for help when needed. Be proud to be part of the Junior program and make the most of the opportunities for personal and professional growth. Stay resilient and inspire others with your achievements. I wish them all the best for the new challenges and journeys ahead!

Emma (SRB)

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