I joined the Center for Russian and East European Studies in October 2004 to write a PhD on Albanian foreign policy in post-communism, and I left CREES in July 2009 to return to Albania and take up the position of Head of Department of International Relations and Political Science at the European University of Tirana. I am currently Vice-Rector for Research and Methodology at the European University of Tirana and I coordinate the Tempus Project on ‘Developing Human Rights at the Heart of Higher Education in the Western Balkans’, which is led by Roehampton University, United Kingdom. I lecture on and convene the undergraduate module ‘Albanian nationalism and foreign policy’, and the postgraduate modules ‘Foreign Policy Analysis’ and ‘Advanced Research Methods in Social Sciences’.
My years at CREES have been the most significant years of my life: apart from writing a successful PhD thesis, I made life-long friends and learned tremendously from various people within the University of Birmingham, and outside. More importantly, my time at CREES offered me the unique opportunity to work and live in an international environment, and benefit from the latest developments within the area of East European and Russian studies, as well as International Relations and EU Enlargement. Weekly seminars, frequent lunches at Staff House and the Annual CREES conference at Cumberland Lodge were great opportunities to exchange views with staff and other PhD colleagues, as well as policy makers and regional experts, on contemporary Russia and Eastern Europe.
CREES offers a first-rate learning and working environment as well as a great social network for post-graduate students. I am especially grateful to my supervisors, Tim Haughton Michelle Pace and Kataryna Wolczuk, as well as Derek Averre, for always finding time to talk through the progress of my work as well as share their personal insights into the life of an academic or more generally, life as such. Last, but not least, CREES administrative staff are most supportive and a great asset to the Center.
I wish CREES wholeheartedly a Happy Anniversary and a prosperous half of century ahead!