Zsófia Nagy - Interview



I am Hungarian from Slovakia and I studied law in Bratislava in Slovak. I did not break away from my Hungarian roots, as I was a student in the Hungarian college for advanced studies in Bratislava. Here we had a student council, organised all kinds of performances, programmes and built an audience. I was also involved in another student club, so I stayed close to my roots.

How did you learn about the Junior Programme?

My PhD supervisor, the associate professor, recommended me for the programme. I didn't know what to expect, but I jumped at the chance because I love studying and Budapest was attractive, as I have friends here and the city itself is a metropolis.
I wanted to build the kind of community here that was important to me, and I also wanted to work with as many people as possible professionally, which meant a lot to me from the beginning.

In what area of law have you gained experience so far?

In Bratislava, I worked on European law. I wrote my master thesis on home births, on the topic of medical law, which I also carried forward. I didn't expect home birth to be such a hot topic, but I gave a presentation at the college for advanced studies, and I also held a presentation on the subject at a Hungarian student festival in the Highlands, with a doula, a health worker, and a lawyer, and I got very positive feedback.

How was the application process?

It was not difficult, on the contrary. My Hungarian mentor helped me a lot. We often talked on the phone and if I had any questions, I could write to him. He gave me advice and helped me with what to put in my motivation letter, etc. That's how I submitted my material. I was nervous about the oral interview, I tried to be professionally well prepared, and I noticed that they were especially happy that I included my personal opinion. They also asked me what I thought my professional future would be like, my life in Budapest... I only had to be myself.

Did you have any concerns or worries beforehand?

Indeed, I did. I didn't know what this academic environment would be like. As a first year PhD student, I wasn't sure if I was adequately prepared for the challenges ahead, if I could learn the required literature, and frankly I had never written articles on academic topics before... And I didn't know if I was qualified for this step. But the environment was very welcoming, and I was reassured that we were here to learn and grow (including, for example, learning to publish well), and that we would be supported every step of the way. There is no need to be afraid of making mistakes.

What is it like to live in Budapest?

It was very easy for me, because I already had acquaintances here, so I moved in with my friends from home (the Highlands) in Budapest. We searched for an apartment on the internet and found one easily. Now I'm going to move, but it won't be difficult because I'm moving in with a colleague. If you need help, even the CEA is happy to give it to you.
I really like the city. Bratislava is a small capital, while Budapest offers a wide range of opportunities. I try to make the most of the city, but honestly, just walking to the CEA and enjoying the buildings and the atmosphere is a great experience. If I want quiet, I go home, but I like the hustle and bustle.

Do you have any specific academic goals?

I'm not sure yet, because I’m quite an open-minded person, and I’m interested in a lot of things. On the one hand, being a lawyer seems very exciting, so I'm interested in that. On the other hand, now that I'm immersed in the world of CEA, I also feel that the pedagogical direction could be a good one and I would stay in this academic environment. The interaction between students and professors is also attractive, there are a lot of collaborations and interesting research. I haven't given up being a lawyer yet, but the Junior Programme has certainly given me an insight along which I could also imagine my future professional life.

How does CEA support you in achieving your goals?

We are given a lot of freedom, and individual wishes and goals are absolutely taken into account. There are always different research working groups and I can imagine being involved in the family law or health law platform. There is a lot of cross-cutting areas, so we also meet professors from different disciplines who are very willing to help.
They give us a lot of space to focus on our own area, and they also support us in connecting with universities abroad.

To whom would you recommend the CEA Junior Programme?

Anyone who is eager to learn, loves to read, research, and perform. The program can be an important step in building an academic career, with serious and useful steps for professional advancement.
If someone feels open to new things and challenges, and would like to extend their student life, I can fully recommend the programme.

Would you change anything?

I can't really think of anything I would. What might have been a bit more difficult from an administrative point of view – because the institute is still new – has also changed in the meantime.

What has been your best experience so far?

I have so much on my mind right now, it's hard to answer. I am a community person, so the working community means a lot to me. I think the recent open day was a defining experience, where we introduced the institute and our tasks to interested juniors. We received very good feedback on what a charismatic team we are, and this was of course an important confirmation. We are not only colleagues, but also friends, and this was also evident to the strangers at the Open Day.

What message would you like to send to the prospective juniors?

Don't be afraid to ask questions because you will always get an answer. It's a very cool and tolerant environment here!

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