Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik, CREES PhD Student 2004-2008. Current position: Lecturer in Politics, Aston University, Birmingham.
I joined CREES in October 2004 to start my PhD on post-conflict Serbia. This was a very interesting time for the Western Balkan region and pursuing a research project on the topic at a place like CREES was very rewarding. PhD students received excellent supervision and research training, but above all we felt we were a part of a lively intellectual community. At that time, several of us were working on overlapping themes and ideas, and this made for some great conversations at the Green Man in Harborne. Later, when I started publishing my work as an academic, I was very proud to have been able to reference and use the works of some of my PhD colleagues. Today, some of us are even collaborating on teaching and writing projects. As many former CREESniks on these pages have commented, CREES connections are very long lasting.
CREES was a very nurturing environment for a PhD student, and it is possible to make all kinds of surprising international connections through the centre. Through several chance meetings at the famous CREES conferences, I ended up applying for post-doctoral visiting fellow at two fascinating organisations – the Aleksanteri Insitute, University of Helsinki and the European Union Institute for Security Studies – two places I never thought I’d visit, but with whom I’ve developed long term collaborations.
I will always have fond memories of CREES, especially of the third-floor PhD students’ office, the endless coffee breaks, the very lively CREES conference and, perhaps most importantly, the constant moral and administrative support PhD students received from the academic staff but also, Marea and Tricia.