Sarah Whitmore, CREES Master's student 1996-7, PhD student 1998-2002, ESRC postdoc 2002-3, Honorary Research Fellow 2003- . Current position: Senior Lecturer in Politics, Oxford Brookes University.

The six years I spent at CREES were decisive ones for me in terms of figuring out what I wanted to do with my life and helping me to do it. At CREES from the very outset as a Master's student, I felt included into a vibrant scholarly community, which on a day-to-day basis centred around the Baykov library (I couldn't believe Master's students each had a key to this magical place!) and 'Sheremetyevo' (the dimly-lit airport lounge style common room in the Gisbert Capp building which made one instantly feel they were in a Soviet public building), as well as the weekly Current Affairs seminars.

The academic and peer support networks at CREES were incredible and I look back at my CREES years with enormous gratitude to all those who shared their time, expertise, experience and very amusing anecdotes. Of many, my favourite CREES memory is perhaps from the 40th anniversary celebrations where late on the Saturday evening, the guitars were out, much vodka was symbolically, and later less symbolically, shared before a group of distinguished CREESniki past and present (who might prefer to remain anonymous) went swimming in the lily pond in Windsor Great Park at 4.30am, only to return to Cumberland Lodge (dripping wet) to find ourselves locked out!